The aMAZing edition
What we first come across when thinking about a maze is the multiplicity of ways to draw it, understand it and interpret it. It is present since the Greek mythology and in every domain, from scientific to art interpretation or religious reappropriations. It is a garden or hidden under the ground, it is mobile or so heavy, it might be full of obstacles or just really long, it can be made of stones or only in our minds, it can be feared or used as an escape. Its complexity and the multiplicity of its shapes makes it the subject of never ending research.
Drawing a maze is already an intellectual exercise, and it has been a great source of inspiration for game developers such as Ustwo with Monument valley, Taylor with the Bridge, Alexander Bruce with Antichamber among many others. The mind has to adapt to twisted perspectives in order to solve the different challenges. It is often the aim to recreate a path to walk further.
The maze and the labyrinth more specifically are also a symbol for the initiatory journey we have to go through to become… adult, strong, honorable; ready for…. war, love, life? Almost every game is build this way and when the walls are not literally there, the path is still clearly full of obstacles. Doom from id Software is one of the first first person shooter games and a classic in the game history. Rogue-like games are one way to illustrate this journey or passage. In these games the player has to create his character, choose for him weapons and level of strength and while exploring a space (often a dungeon), you have to fight different level monsters. In Don’t starve from Klei Entertainment, every fight you win gives you access to extra strength, new weapons, powers etc.
One of the recent tendencies in games is to open the space and the choice to gamers, giving them opportunities to wander and discover their environment. Journey from thatgamecompany is one important example. It has been a little revolution in games when pursuing an aim was not the most important anymore, but wandering and the time it implies the first aspect of it. Jenova Chen, creator of Journey but also FlOw and Cloud is a specialist of this new generation of games. Chen thinks, that it is important to the industry and medium as a whole to create games that provoked different emotional responses in the player than just excitement or fear.
One interesting level to take into consideration, is the labyrinth of our minds. And this is one we also find all over the art history, in movies since the beginning and of course in video games. Portal from Valve Corporation and The Witness from Thekla are games where labyrinths are used as puzzles to solve in order to go further. Puzzle games focus on logical and conceptual challenges. Candy Crush Saga is this one game everyone tried, or was invited to play on their phone, social media, tablets. The many games are diverse and the many mazes get you lost in different ways, but somehow it often comes back to a situation of safe prisoner, where you can’t escape but you can survive. And this where it all begins again!
Nowadays, many people feel lost, the media and the politics keep us in a constant state of fear and we believe that no place is safe anymore. This way we are doomed. In the middle of this tragic context where is a place for us to be safe? Where do we go next? In the middle of this tensions we develop powerful technologies to become superhuman, we train for the worst in simulators, we reinvent VR and AR to escape. If we often first see the maze as a place to get lost, it is also a place to hide, to stay safe, to lose the other. In Shining, the boy prefers the unknown of the maze away from the violence of his father! He chooses the peaceful death against the confrontation of the insane. Cities are not just extending, they are leveling up, internet is getting deeper and deeper, humans are getting more and more solicited, visually, intellectually, our administration itselfs became so dense we can never be sure to know our rights or what our duties are.
Organised by young adults who grew up with the first generations of video games, the festival is happening now because they keep on questioning this medium who took over our daily lives. Our generation is the one who saw the arrival of internet, the first home computers and got to play with the first game boys. It is more and more important, regarding the speed of the evolution of technologies, to take a deeper look at this medium, its capacities and its power. It is one of our aims to bring a critical eye on the world of gamification and our challenge to highlight the positive alternative effects of gaming. And about the theme, we believe that if we live in the maze, it is time to be aware of its obstacles and choose our path, take time to go through the different corners and meet our enemies, not only to fight but probably to figure out who he is, if enemy at all. Could we all live together in the maze?