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Every day the same dream January 23, 2010

Posted by Cesar in living me, thinking me, working me.
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Every day the same dream is an amazing game. If you’ve heard about it before, continue reading. Otherwise, I recommend you play first; it is very short, you’ll finish in minutes.

I found out about this deep and disturbing game at Tap-Repeatedly and was very… surprised at how the experience moved me. Every day is in all technical aspects extremely simple. That is a compliment and goes to show how games are unquestionably an art form. Even stripped from all graphical advances, realistic AI and complex controls, playing it is a touching and immersive experience (here I go talking about immersion again). I had had such feelings before watching short movies, never playing games.

Playing Every day made me think of two movies: Modern Times, by Charlie Chaplin, and Groundhog Day. There’s a tad of both in this game.

Modern times has a direct relation to Every day: Chaplin’s movie is also a critic to the massification of modern life.

In Groundhog Day, Phil Connors, played by Bill Murray, lives the same day over and over again, oblivious as to why that’s happening to him. The repetition acts as a metaphor to the stagnation caused by the main character’s life style. In a scene in the bowling alley, Phil asks two locals, “What would you do if you were stuck in one place, and every day was exactly the same and nothing that you did mattered?” One guy replies, “That about sums it up for me.” That right there explains the connection. The magic power that makes Phil live the same day every day only brings to the surface the drama both the locals in the movie and the character in Every Day the Same Dream experience by simply living their lives.

In both movie and game, the break from the repetition that plagues existence comes from self-improvement. They represent a search for enlightenment and offer a valuable lesson.

If you still haven’t played the game, do it now. And go rent Groundhog Day. You won’t regret it.

See you space cowboys…

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Comments»

1. durvalcastro - January 27, 2010

Groundhog Day contrasts cyclical time to linear, historical time. All of us live more than 90% (maybe 99%) of our lives in cyclical time. But we only grow, learn, change and achieve objectives in linear time.

2. Cesar - January 27, 2010

**** SPOILER ALERT!!! ****

I was waiting for your comment on this one, I know Groundhog Day is one of your favorites.

Both game and movie share the same principle, which you stated: we only grow when we break from cyclical time.

The game has a gloomy feeling, pretty much opposite to Groundhog Day. I think that might mislead players into thinking the game is just a sad story of how we live repetitive lives. But the ending is to me a happy one: when the character, after completing all steps to break from routine sees himself jumping from the building, that represents not only his break from cyclical time but also his awareness of the achievement.

The one subtle difference between game and movie is that the game emphasizes simply changing and not falling prisoner to routine. The movie is more audacious and teaches a moral lesson too. It is not enough to break from routine, you have to do it in a meaningful way.

3. durvalcastro - January 27, 2010

The point of the film is that we canonly move in linear time through cyclical time. Nature shows us that, as most of life´s functions aree cyclical: heartbeats, breathing, feeding and eliminating, being born and dying.
Of course, this pattern is found in many human artifacts, particularly symbolic ones, like games, literature, philosophy, music. A nice example that comes to my mind is Ravel’s Bolero, which repeats the same melody and changes the mood from intimate and hesitating to glorious.

4. Cesar - January 28, 2010

That’s interesting. I am not sure that’s what you mean but from what I understand you propose an inversion between cause and consequence.

I suggested that we need to evolve in order to break from cyclical time. But in fact, it could be that we break from cyclical time to evolve.

It does make sense even from a… simpler standpoint: if you do the same thing everyday, and experience nothing new, how are you going to evolve?

While I proposed an internal reflection that would lead to growth and then the break, isn’t the reflection already a break from the cycle? In that case, you first break the cycle, and the chain of events resulting from that lead to personal growth.

It makes perfect sense. I like it!

Durval - January 29, 2010

Change in behaviour is always a consequence of some disturbance in the cycle. Humans sometimes seem to change without disturbances, as if they wanted to escape routine, but that is an effect of our capacity for long-range planning. We are disturbed by needs that cannot be satisfied immediately and then we set up a long range planning to effect a long series of steps to reach the desired target. The urge to do the step then becomes an immediate disturbance. We also develop a degree of tolerance for actual disturbances, while we cannot get rid of them.


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