Declan Kolakowski

Way To Go

Added on by Declan Kolakowski.

Way To Go is a "thing" by Vincent Morisset. I like it...

It mostly consists of moving along a pre-determined path through a forest with the visuals composed by 360° camera footage and some 3D computer graphics environments, sometimes blended together with an animated avatar. (Although, interesting side note, if you look down, the physical camera rig is depicted in the world which raises some interesting questions as to what object the user is meant to identify with). The controls are limited to a run, a walk and a jump the last of which is pleasingly timed with some nice generative musical effects. If that was the beginning and end of the experience it would not be particularly deep, but there is in fact a depth of possibility space and whole range of little touches added to the experience that make it a much more textured and interesting experience; moving the angle of the camera can creates a whole range of different animations for your character, as you pause at different points along your walk there are lots of tiny pieces of detail that bring the wood alive, and the finale of the Way To Go is the first experience in ages I've had to give a sense of real speed. I'm trying not to spoil anything, but I'd recommend you try it and take your time to experience the possibility space as it is.

However... as you've noticed I'm taking pains not to use the words "play" or "game"... this is because Morisset calls Way To Go an "interactive film". I find this interesting as it points exactly to the compelling failure of any categorisation in New Media (particularly games) is facing at the moment.

If this had been made by a game developer they probably would have called it a game without raising many eyebrows, at least among the people who usually enjoy these sorts of experiences. Indeed, the experiential depth I mentioned before is actually greater I think than a lot of so called "game experiences", Way To Go certainly trumps some games I can think of in terms of its possibility space and attention to exposing lots of hidden levels of detail to the observer and waits and watches and looks around.

Its ironic that most small games, usually the products of game jams with little to no funding and even less time are often less game like and more prescriptive and devoid of possibility than this piece of media made by people who consider themselves film makers.

Yet at the same time Way To Go is significantly political in its regards for games. It condescendingly reminds the user when it begins that there are no points, nothing to win and that don't have to rush. This is a very loaded instruction and points to very patronising view of New Media, Morisset seems to be suggesting that most people expect all interactive experiences to have an aim, that the vast majority of New Media and Game-like objects can only be redeemed by artistic experiences through the cinematic medium, through the touch of the auteur and the dictatorial director.

Despite Way To Go's pretension to the cinematic medium, it's definitely a much better game than a movie as far as I'm concerned. If nothing else raises interesting questions about the futility of categorisation in the current media landscape.