Micro-Essay: Every day the same dream

What I found most interesting while playing Every day the same dream was the game’s ability to make the player feel as though there was a set path to follow and then subtly introduce elements that would lead the player to break away from the linear path. Once the player realized the boundaries in the game were to some degree self-imposed, the game really began. The player was then on a journey to break down his everyday routine until he became a jobless, wifeless, naked man who witnessed a suicide.

It is hard to say if there is a specific moral or message to take away from this game. However, it did lead me to think about how we, as members of a society, often play our own lives on auto-pilot – completing the day’s tasks but never stopping to ask if it was actually something we wanted to do or why we do them. Of course life is filled with social obligations and expectations which we sometimes struggle to meet, but for any number of reasons we get locked into routines in which we feel we cannot escape (I’m not qualified enough, I have rent to pay…etc.) Too often we are trapped in a prison of our own creation.

The idea of boundaries in games is an interesting concept to tackle. It is rarely something that is highlighted in video-games. In fact, it is something which, in some games, is painstakingly masked from the player making the world feel endless; the designers and developers searching to create the ideal immersive experience. Every day the same dream on the other hand uses the game’s ‘perceived’ boundaries to their advantage and created a small world in which the player is encouraged to break away from the linear; testing the limitations of their character within the world. The emphasis on boundaries in this game was not just integral to the game-play but to the story. Although there wasn’t much text in the game – and every play-though did not necessarily happen in the most logical order – there is clearly a story being told, and it is a story so familiar to us that no explanation besides the title and the action-prompts are necessary. It is one of a man trapped within an imaginary prison; never stopping to talk to a stranger or examine nature, and with every new morning slowly discovers a world beyond his small cell.

Having played this game it has become clear to me that the way boundaries (imagined or not) in different video-games are handled make all the difference to the game-play experience. Every day the same dream tests our expectations of what the boundaries of a video-game are supposed to be, and similarly forces us to reflect on our own preconceived ideas of who we expect ourselves to be.

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