January 19 Meditation (John Vanderhoef)

January 19 Meditation (John Vanderhoef)

January 19 Meditation (John Vanderhoef)

Yesterday I had coffee with a producer whom I have continually failed to convince of the merits of video games. Of course, I’m used to the usual criticisms of video games as isolating indoor activities – the usual cries for children to go and climb trees instead (as though you can’t, as I did, do both) – but this producer represents an additional challenge: he doesn’t like fiction.

So I suppose I ought to show him a documentary game, like today’s Meditation by John Vanderhoef about the 1995 crash of a helicopter called Cullen.

(Was John Vanderhoef given a date and then searched the historical record for any anniversary of note (in which case this helicopter crash survived by all is preferable to, for example, the various bombings and military victories)? Or had John been waiting for a chance to make a game about Cullen, and Meditations provided the perfect excuse?)

Unfortunately, I don’t think this example would quite convince my producer to try games for himself. The graphics are very simple, but I hope that he would be able to figure out that the H on the ground means the pixellated avatar is a helicopter, and that the shifting blue is the sea, the little black figures survivors. Besides, the intro text provides context, although (on my machine at least) the launcher cut it off so I didn’t get the whole story.

I was disappointed, however, by the moment that I assume represents the moment the helicopter was struck by lightning, here represented as a sudden change from a scene with black clouds to one without. It lacked drama. I did like that after the crash the controls seemed to shift from simply using the arrows to direct the helicopter to alternating the left and right arrows to progress the scene (the arrival of another helicopter, a boat, the rescue), as if to represent a swimming survivors arms. But I thought it was a bit strange that the helicopter still moved in response.

At least everyone survived.