Class tomorrow: Gris

Tomorrow we’ll discuss Gris when we meet via Zoom (same link we used on Tuesday should remain consistent the rest of the semester). You should expect it to take a little more than three hours to complete the game. If you don’t finish it completely before class tomorrow that’s okay, but please make sure you’ve played for a couple hours so you have a pretty good sense of how the game functions.

The game itself has a pretty simple set of mechanics. It’s classified as a “platform game,” so it derives ultimately from such games as Donkey Kong, Super Mario Brothers, and Sonic the Hedgehog. However, Gris takes the basic mechanical structure of the platformer and turns it into a comment on not only surviving but healing. The protagonist is a heartbroken woman who has literally lost her voice and wanders through a desolate world. As such there is no dialog. As you move through the game, you more or less explicitly move through the stages of grief and slowly bring more and more color into the world around you.

Here are some basic question that I’d like you to think a bit about before we meet:

  • Some reviewers have complained that the virtuosic visuals and soundtrack become a problem of “form over function” because it causes the platformer structure to become confusing or difficult to navigate. Did you find this to be true? In a game about trauma and healing, why might the game developers have included elements that make is such that the world is “confusing to move through and the way forward isn’t always clear”?
  • How do you feel as you play this game? Especially now, when we are all in the midst of a global trauma, what does it feel like to play this game?
  • Is it important that the protagonist is a woman? How does it impact your experience to play through this world as a female protagonist?

Note that you should be thinking about your side quest 8/#hometasking no. 1 where you will throw a paper into a bin … spectacularly. You should post those videos to your sites by Friday and then we’ll vote on a class winner over the weekend. Please comment on each others’ posts and as you do think about not just what this activity means as your own solo work but what it means to be part of a community engaging in this ridiculous activity together, while also apart. I’m going to ask you to write about that question some time soon.

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