10 April 2008

Burn this

A figure walks through a dungeon. He is nothing but a pink head with stumpy limbs: his black bowler hat, symbol of the capitalist yoke under which he labours, is his one distinguishing feature. There is only one path ahead through the dungeon, so he walks it. What else is he going to do? As he walks, he is assailed by dictatorial messages from the system, which represents our contemporary porno-military-entertainment complex. These messages pretend a sort of kindness, a desire to help, but really they are telling him what he can and cannot do, what he can and cannot dream. He notices he has weapons, and throws a few, but the system assures him they are useless, brainwashing him into docility. There is an awful reckoning ahead, but the system tells him not to worry. All he has to do is to burn the rope. He walks on, as in a dream.

What rope? Why should he burn it? Why is he here at all? You may as well ask: Why is any of us here, hurrying toward a rope that must be burned, for reasons we cannot understand?

This man, in his one-way dungeon, is an avatar of all humanity. We assume we can trust instructions; we do what we’re told. There is a rope to be burned, the system tells us. What point could there possibly be in pausing to wonder why the rope should be burned; why us; why now? It’s true, we have heard vaguely of people in the past who have questioned such orders, who expressed what we half-understand as having been counter-revolutionary desires to practise diplomacy with the enemy, or conduct sterile intellectual arguments about overriding values. They, we know, are the losers, the psychos, the rejects of civilisation. We don’t want to be like them.

Only one thing is certain, and it is that thing that gives meaning to our existence. You Have To Burn The Rope.

  • Chris W

    I love the song at the end…

  • And there was I thinking it was just a pointless, brief, violent, crappy, little game. Only you could have shown how that is a metaphor for life! Thank you, Steven, for throwing the flickering torchlight of understanding on the walls of my dungeon, my own “Plato’s Cave”.

  • The pleasure, in a very real sense, was all mine.

    As Chris says, it’s all about the song! It has a lovely Zappa-ish feel to it.

  • richard

    Intriguing. Sounds like Portal, only with a rather more efficient path to the denouement, and the uncompromising bleakness of vision that you just can’t get any more in videogames with multi-million dollar budgets.

  • I played this game awhile back when it was released on Kongregate. I must say, that is quite the deep critique of the game’s grand meaning. I can’t tell if you’re joking or not.
    I found it be quite excellent. The song at the end is awesome.
    I always figured the meaning behind the game was the message the author put on it’s description “Computer games are getting so hard these days…” Which is obviously sarcastic. But even that obvious answer can be taken in stride with the context of your proposed argument.. hm…

  • The songwriter’s site is here. :)

  • Dan Giordano

    Beautiful song!

  • Yep :)

  • ropie boy

    has anybody ever tried actually killing the collosus with thier weapons

  • his bowler hat

    I tried….The damage only goes so far….I must have been the first person to complete this game in only 20 minutes!!! impressive huh?

  • RussT

    It would be good if there was a pause button in the game so you can take a break if you want.

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