Slivers of Silver is a series of 8 posts exploring various game concepts. It is based on a recent road trip through Nevada, titled Beyond the Neon, taking place in December 2015. You can read all of those currently published on QM here. This series is dedicated to the author’s road trip companions, poets Jason, Libby, and Justine.
Seventeen. This game is all about ambient interaction. A darkness looms over a small desert town in Western Nevada. You have no control over what takes place in the conflict that is to follow. You must simply watch. Fortunately, the game designers of this “non-interactive fiction” have coded over 1,000,000 possibilities into how the narrative of this “game” will play out. You control a camera and can use it to go anywhere in the game world, but you are not able to do any direct manipulation of the game world. The interface features an in-game camera that allows you to share images and video clips of what you’ve witnessed in the game. You may then share these images to an in-game community. Once every single game possibility (out of the million available) has played out, the game server will lock and this game will no longer be accessible to anyone. That bar is the true darkness.
Eighteen. Like the “color by numbers” games of yesteryear, here we have a digital game where it is the goal of the player to paint the desert. This game is fairly simple though the level of painting tools available is great. The purpose of this game, in addition to providing stress relief and an exploration of aesthetic, is to open minds to the beauty of the colors of the desert.
Nineteen. The International Car Forest of the Last Church is a real art installation in the real world in Nevada and offers visitors a look at beautifully manipulated vehicles sticking out of the desert. In this game, you go back to the car forest, but not to look at the art. An incredible paintball tournament–one of the most mysterious in all the land–is to take place here. Unlike other paintball games, this one is to the death. All players will only be using paintballs, so death is thus by internal bleeding and other physical trauma. A truly gory game, this one will show gamers the meaning of the concept of endurance.
Twenty. In this game you play as an herbalist who has visited the desert in hopes of finding herbs to use in ancient, nearly-forgotten Paiute Indian recipes. Similar to the popular game series Far Cry, this game lets players explore the vast landscape of the desert–on foot–paying attention to the minute details of life that exist within. This game is not for the gamer lacking patience!
Twenty one. You are an assassin in this game. You have only been given two pieces of information regarding your target: their automobile make and model, and the route to their destination. It is getting dark in the desert and so you need to quickly find your target. In this game you are driving. Fast. Very fast. And you have one chance to find your target and eliminate it. How are your driving skills? How is your vision? How do you perform as a hit man under such pressure?
Twenty two. Another driving game. This one is like many “endless runner” mobile games, except that it is photo-realistic and takes place in desert canyons where the walls of the desert rise above you like monsters. The game is fortunately not endless, but to complete it requires a great deal of skill navigating the truly treacherous terrain–which includes varying weather elements, live stock, other automobiles, and additional obstacles that will surely take you off the road!
Twenty three. You are a poet. Not a very good one, but persistent in your art nonetheless. In this online game, you are driving down lonely Route 50, destined for wherever. It is your goal in this game to keep your sanity and happiness meters high by writing a poem that “speaks to” the desert. The game lets you write to “the desert” (which is the greater, anonymous online community) and the desert will either respond positively or negatively to each of your lines. Should your writing prove insufficient, you will either go mad or get too sad and purposely end your life. This game is replayable.
Twenty four. A pattern memorization game. You are a county driver/deliverer. It is your high school job. When not in school you spend your time hand-delivering packages between two town offices, roughly 100 miles away from each other. It is a simple game but a game that can be “completed” by aiming for the perfect route. Of course there will be obstacles (such as traffic) to keep you from reaching 100% precision, but after a while, you should be able to know this road like the back of your hand. Then you can complete it, and move on with your life.
Greg Bem is a contributing writer and the current Gaming Editor of QM. He is a librarian, technologist, gamer, and adventurer.