"Frames within frames."

Found this one via @microtrailers, which makes a 6 second cut of every game that gets released on steam. I've never heard of the author before.

Here's my pitch: it's a digital art installation that visualizes your acts of watching and trying to understand, letting them become the source of the artwork.


From a technical point of view, AENTITY leans mainly on buffer feedback effects, which lends it a style that is retro... but really only retro amongst A/V art, not among videogames. In fact, it frames itself as a museum for the experiences you have within it, allowing you to capture what you see as screenshots and place them on the walls. This puts me in the mood I recall from appreciating A/V installations in art galleries: I'm watching, letting myself feel confused and then gradually allowing my mind to impose order on the visual chaos.

Through the pixellated fog you discern echoes of familiar shapes: human bodies and horses, in a way that is suggestive of the Chauvet cave paintings. You move toward them, letting them structure your interpretation of the scene, until the scene dissolves and starts to build into something else. This rhythm of recognition and dissolution builds on the minimalist Catacombs of Solaris by giving just enough structure for your mammalian visual cortex to latch on to.


AENTITY provides an orthodox first-person control scheme: the mouse and WASD keys, even using space for jumping. But the other verbs are unusual and deliberately opaque: Hypnotize, neutralize, memorize. It doesn't totally resist goal-directed play like some work in this vein does... it has numbered Steam achievements for discovering different entities in its space, and it promises to capture your experiences on a 'companion website', where the most beautiful images can be upvoted and immortalized (although, this doesn't seem to be functional yet). Leaning in this way on videogame incentives and control literacy, I wonder who it is for... I have watched art collectors try to handle standard videogame controls so I can say with confidence that it is not for them. I think it is trying to introduce a formal art experience to the videogame context: a context of experiencing without expectations. That is actually pretty radical for videogames in 2018.


It's just one big buffer feedback effect, but that's also a metaphor for what's going on when you play it. Your effort to control and see through the distorted wash of color is captured and fed back to you. Your mind is trying to find order in chaos, but in the end you find yourself fixated on order which emerged from your own exploration... a solipsistic self-portrait built up out of feedback.

Warehouse Panic
Przemyslaw 'Rezoner' Sikorski

"It's a tiny multiplayer puzzle game that you can play in the browser"

I discovered this one via Rezoner's twitter, which I came to when someone retweeted a gif of one of his other, more technically ambitious games. I loved his Amiga-inspired visual style and soon discovered this, his most recent and smallest game. I think it's his best game, not because it's the smallest but because it's the most recent.

Here's my pitch: it's Cathedral, which is to say, it's multiplayer Tetris, but simpler, and you don't need to set up a board and you don't need to beg a friend to play it.


Almost all the complexity of Cathedral and related space-packing strategy games is stripped away here - there's no rotating pieces, no choosing which piece to use, no additional mechanics. You're just trying to pack your pieces as tight as possible, getting bonus points for making contiguous rectangles, and you're trying two hinder two other anonymous randos who are attempting to do the same thing.

It's as simple and minimal as that, but human opponents are smart and interesting, and it'll take you longer than you think before you're done with it. It's not an e-sport, y'know? It's an .io game. It's humble.

And is there anything more exciting right now than .io games? The unnecessary murder of flash by Google and Apple, long before HTML5 was a viable game platform, created a fallow period for browser games, when it was not economically feasible to launch flash games nor technically feasible to use alternatives. But we're out of the woods, I think, and there has been an explosion of these casually-massive multiplayer games - starting with and later and now many others. It's more than a genre, it's also a 'folk brand' where unrelated games by unrelated developers cross-promote each other. All they have in common is what is given by the affordances of current web technology: they are as dynamic and social as traditional massively multiplayer games but as easy to drop into (and out of) as solitaire. They don't mind if you walk away. They don't have that thirst that downloadable games are so stricken with.

the designers in this space are making cool things. And they're doing it without the help of publishers or portals. I love it.