Jason Rohrer (of Passage, Gravitation, and others) has put together a very different experience in his latest, Between. Hosted by US Esquire as part of their 'Best and Brightest 2008' feature, it's a two-player game with a twist. In his latest Gamasutra feature, Ian Bogost takes a look at the game and the element of disjunctive play we find — a game designed to highlight just how far apart we all are, not bring us together:
When we talk about games, we normally use the language of conjunction, whether through accompaniment ("to play with") or conflict ("to play against"). Whether for competition, collaboration, or socialisation, multiplayer games aim to connect people in the act of play itself.
Between takes on a very different charge: it aims to remind players of the abyss that forever separates them from another. In the face of this gulch, the best we can do is to attempt to trace the edges of our cohort's gestures and signals, as players of Between do when they interpret the origins of the weird, mottled coloured patterns that appear as if from nowhere on their screens.
If most multiplayer games are conjunctive, Between is disjunctive. It is a game that aims to disturb notions of cohesion rather than to create them. And if any common sympathy arises from the experience, it is a feeling of comfort in the commonality of one's inevitable isolation.
Both Between and Ian's piece are worth a look — the issue of Otherness as related to gaming and the potentials for disjunctive play are certainly interesting to contemplate, and Between is worth a play simply because it's a very different multiplayer experience than most of us are used to.
Persuasive Games: Disjunctive Play [Gamasutra]