The Supreme Courts recent decision to establish videogames as a protected form of creative expression – while generally greeted with the enthusiasm befitting such a landmark decision — was elsewhere met with ambiguity. It reopened a long standing debate on the merits of considering video games as art when so many adhere to established (and more importantly profitable) mass market templates.
In light of this, and the exponentially rapid churn of games emanating from app stores and social media plug ins, its a breath of fresh air to hear of a game like GlitchHiker.
Glitchhiker flipped the traditional structures one expects of a videogame: when a player failed in their attempts it was the system rather than their onscreen avatar that lost a life. Conversely when a player did well the game could recover lives. Unfortunatey when it’s ‘game over’ for the system the game dies, never to be played again. In a perverse twist the more lives the game loses the ‘glitchier’ it becomes, creating a near hopeless cycle where it becomes harder and harder to save the game the sicker it gets.
Inevitably the game did cease to exist, which was entirely befitting of the extinction theme of Global Game Jam 2011. The game itself was a trimuph of attractive UX, featuring perfectly realised minimal graphics and a wonderful chiptune score. Ironically the more players that were tempted to play the more the game lowered its life expectancy.
The video game lives on in video format (see below) and in a non-executable download file, capturing an ephemerality similar to much of the influential Net-art scene of the early 90′s.