CHALLEnging the wilfulness of destiny
The concept of Destiny is indeed intriguing. Some contend that there is no escaping one’s fate, what’s written in the Heavens cannot be erased. It is commonly perceived within some traditionally religious cultures that God has devised a story for each and every one of us, and we have to go through this plot without having the power to change anything… from the most important decision to the minutest detail.
Playing God is a work which challenges this concept of the inevitability (or otherwise) of Destiny; not the destiny of the grand récit – that which decides history or alters the world’s future, but the small loops of the everyday, those insignificant, often fleeting and unnoticeable moments that add up to the hours, days and years of lifetimes. Interaction with these micro-narratives in such a manner as to make a considerable impact on their turnout can have two consequences – it can either create a snowball reaction that will have bearing of varying dimension on all the events that follow or, on the other hand, have absolutely little or no precedence on subsequent proceedings.
It is the story of a girl named Amy, who one summer’s morning wakes up to find that her cat Tini has gone astray in this huge mansion. The user is invited by Amy to help her look for Tini by choosing the right routes to take and aid her to look in the right nooks and crannies. The game engine does not follow conventional game structure involving different levels of achievement in fact, every time Amy finds herself in a dead end with no luck finding Tini, the engine takes the user to the original ‘Amy wakes up’ loop in order to be able to try one’s luck all over again. To further complicate matters, even though the user has made a choice, the hardware randomly takes over as ‘destiny’ and takes the user to whichever part of the story it decides to.
PLAYING GOD was presented for the first time at the Preston Minster in March-April, 2007 as part of the ‘Digital Aesthetic 2’ Conference and Exhibition. The work was curated by Lindsay Taylor and Richard Smith, curators, Harris Museum, Preston. It has also since been installed in different configurations for the two 6collabor8 exhibitions; at the Palais Liechtenstein in Feldkirch, Austria, in September 2007, and at the Cittadella, Gozo, Malta in October-November 2007. The work has also been developed to run on a multi-user mobile platform.