by Sophie Kim
Every Day the Same Dream is a game created by Paolo Pedercini, the founder of molleindustira. He created this game in 2009 as part of the Experimental Gameplay Project (EGP). The project consists of making a game under seven days, by one person, around a common theme. The game was made in six days by Pedercini himself with the main theme of art game along with “alienation and refusal of labor.” These themes are common in mollenindustria as the game’s website states that the games on molleindustria are “radicalization of popular culture and projects of reappropriation of video games” (Molleindustria). The games range from satirical business simulations to meditations on labor and alienation (Molleindustria).
The game consists of using the left and right arrows to move the avatar around and using the spacebar to allow the character to interact with people or the surrounding objects (E.g. TV, car, etc). The player follows the life of the avatar as he gets up, get ready for work, and go to work; this cycle endlessly repeats until the end of the game. The challenge for the player is to find alternative choices in order to escape the “same dream.” The first obvious alternative choice for the player is to not go to the cubicle and jump off the roof. The ultimate alternative route is revealed to the player through the avatar’s encounter with the lady in the elevator. The lady tells him, “five more steps and you will be a new person,” indicating that there are five interactions the avatar can have in order to escape the endless cycle. The five interactions consist of going to work, jumping off the roof, going to a graveyard, finding a cow, and going to work undressed. After completing all of these steps through the course of “five days,” the player is at the end of the game where the avatar finds himself in an empty world. The game ends with the avatar coming across a person at his work (who looks just like him) jumping off the roof.
As I was playing the game, it was frustrating to be stuck seeing the same scenery with very limited controls. I tried using other keys hoping that there were some secret cheats in the game (there wasn’t). Ultimately I gave up playing after two days passed in the game and watched YouTube streaming of the game, wanting to see how the game ends. The frustration a player feels represents how one can feel about life: feeling limited in what you can do with the direction of your life, and not being able to escape the banal cycle of life. Even the choices you make are given by the game: You can either go to work or jump off the roof unless finding an alternate path which eventually–again–you are left to go to work or jump off the roof. Perhaps even the player’s attempts to try different things allude to how people try various things in their life in order to escape their boring lives. Throughout the game, the only thing that changes in the game is the graph at the avatar’s workplace. Regardless of the avatar working or jumping off the cliff, the line on the graph continues to decrease. The reason seems to be that at the office all of your colleagues look like you, and are doing the same thing as you, in a cubicle that looks just like yours. Perhaps this refers to how the world keeps going despite a person working or dying.
Leigh Alexander from Gamasutra mentions that Every Day the Same Dream reminds the culture of video games as a platform that “offers experiences that passive media can’t possibly [offer]” (Alexander 2010) The game is kept simple through the controls and the gray color scheme. It prevents the player from being distracted by the details of the game. Through its simplicity in the game and its play, it teaches the player about the “existentialist struggles” of life. By keeping it simple and vague, it allows the player to create a personal reflection upon the obvious message the game is trying to send. It allows the player to figure out the message on their own.
Paolo Pedercini, the creator of the game, states that the game uses the “cyclic nature” of video games where players have the option to play again after their avatars’ “death.” Yet it is hard to recognize that as the players are oblivious to the end goal of the game. For example, in a game like Super Mario, the goal is to save Princess Peach and players can get endless chances to save her. Meaning, there is no “Game Over” until you “beat” the game (“Every Day the Same Dream | Experimental Gameplay Project.” 2009).
The game was created in 2009, a year during the recession: with foreclosures, bankruptcies, and rising unemployment rates. According to CNN, “the economy has lost more than 2.5million jobs in the…recession” and it was expected to rise even more (Goldman 2009). People were desperately trying to find a job, even if it meant going from a “high-paid manufacturing job…[to] working at a Wal-Mart or a Wendy’s” (Goldman 2009). During the recession, the time and work that people put into their jobs ultimately all plummeted down to bankruptcy and unemployment. The unemployment during the recession led to an increase in the rate of suicides as well. Annual rate of suicide was about 0.12 deaths per 100,000 persons until 2007 and became 0.51 deaths per 100,000 since 2008. Had it not been for the increase, the number of suicides in the US “would have been lower by 1,500” (Carey 2012). The sad reality was that nothing changed despite the suicides; the recession was still there. This reflected in the game with the results on the graph continuing to change regardless of the avatar working or jumping off the roof. The game ends with the avatar seeing himself jump off the roof, showing how all the steps the player took to “become a new person” ended in death. The game represents the mood of 2009 and our tendency to question the purpose of life.
Citations/ for more information:
Alexander, Leigh. “Analysis: Every Day ‘s Not The Same ‘Art Game’.” Gamasutra Article, 12 Jan. 2010, www.gamasutra.com/view/news/117657/Analysis_Every_Days_Not_The_Same_Art_Game.php.
“Every Day the Same Dream | Experimental Gameplay Project.” Experimental Gameplay Project , Experimental Gameplay Group, 21 Dec. 2009, experimentalgameplay.com/blog/2009/12/every-day-the-same-dream/.
Carey, Benedict. “Increase Seen in U.S. Suicide Rate Since Recession.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 5 Nov. 2012, www.nytimes.com/2012/11/05/health/us-suicide-rate-rose-during-recession-study-finds.html.
Goldman, David. “Worst Year for Jobs since ’45.” CNNMoney, Cable News Network, 9 Jan. 2009, money.cnn.com/2009/01/09/news/economy/jobs_december/.