Why Not Games




The Quiet Sleep Is Not Punk

Written: 2018-07-10

I just watched a video on what makes a game punk (link) which lists a whole set of characteristics. It’s an excellent video and one that made me think about my previous game, The Quiet Sleep (store link) in a way that I wanted to write about. The video goes over a lot of things that punk is associated with, including:

  • Pushing boundaries. Disruption. A rejection of norms.
  • Getting out of a corporate structure and the context of the creation.
  • Pure vision.
  • DIY, lo-fi aesthetic, independent of wealth and technical ability.
  • Trash culture gone avant garde or avant garde gone trash.
  • Individuality, defiance and attitude.
  • Inherently democratic. Creators and audiences are on a more level playing field.

These are all characteristics of punk as well as The Quiet Sleep and my making of the game. I built it myself and the lo-fi nature is very evident. I wrote a manifesto for it. It’s meant to challenge the idea of what games can do. It has a pure vision and came from me rejecting the corporate structure that I was in before. Finally, it’s a very individual game.

However, I feel that the label of punk just does not fit the game and I want to get to the core of what that missing distinction is. The Quiet Sleep is extremely DIY and very indie, but never felt at all punk to me and I want to get to the core of why that is.

True punk is aggressive and authentic. The Quiet Sleep is cerebral. The story is fictional. I just wrote what I felt would best show off the game. There are certainly pieces in there that come from my life, but only those that service the game. True punk is honest, The Quiet Sleep is mostly lies.

Another way to look at this is that in punk the message leads the medium. They change the form in order to better express what they want to say. The Quiet Sleep was built to expand the medium of video games. The message in the game was constructed purely to highlight the experimentation. I do largely believe in the philosophy of the game, but I would have happily built something that I felt to be untrue if it would have worked better and in places I did exactly that.

For me, punk will always be the image of the cool kid with the leather jacket and the ripped jeans. That’s not what The Quiet Sleep is about. Those people are real or at least posing at being real. Punk doesn’t think before it talks. The Quiet Sleep does.

- @murthynikhil

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