I suspect that everyone’s favourite part of Sophie Houlden’s Meditation will be the part where the dog kicks butt.
I, of course, am not so easily won over. But I did really like what Sophie Houlden has made. It’s a digital graphic novel, of sorts, but without any words at all, a series of still images that advance at the press of a button. The images are very pixellated, but you quickly forget that – it’s incredible how much information can be conveyed in just a few coloured squares.
The adventure depicted is not particularly inventive, apart from the dog, but perhaps that’s the point. Sophie writes in the intro:
“On this day in 1997, a game that meant a lot to me was released. It was the first game to give me a very particular feeling, one that was powerful enough to make me want to make games myself. With this little game, I’ll try to share that with you.“
Wikipedia tells me this day in 1997 was notable for the release of the landmark role-playing game Final Fantasy VII. I haven’t played any Final Fantasy games, so I don’t know whether Sophie’s game captures its essence. But I do know the feeling of looking at a beloved game and allowing one’s imagination to make the leap into “I could do that.” I’ve never made anything more complex than a Twine game, but when I was an adolescent and learned how to use hyperlinks to connect slides in a PowerPoint presentation, it prompted many an IT lesson spent making crude point-and-click adventure games.
Today’s Meditation tells a simple story, but in a way that people playing it might not have seen before, a way that suggests, “You could do this too.” I hope people do.