Casual Fridays: Every Day the Same Dream
Casual Friday started as a way to relax the buttoned-up, tucked-in culture of the white-collar office in the 1950s. It's a day when people dress down to show each other, and themselves, that they are really people. But of course Casual Friday is really just another way that companies merge work and life. It's a deceptively meager allowance, a form of reverse psychology.
In Every Day the Same Dream (playable here) you go through the depressing motions of a white-collar office worker. When you're done, you do the motions again. And again. You could, potentially, perform the same actions in the game for eternity, or until you collapse of exhaustion in real life.
It's up to you to find ways out of the cycle. You might pause to notice something interesting nearby. You might take a turn in an unexpected direction. In doing so you progress in the game.
Created for the Experimental Gameplay Project's "art game" theme, Every Day the Same Dream hits a number of art-game notches.
Lack of instructions? Check.
Minimal art style? Check.
Ponderous title? Check.
Somber instrumental music? Check.
Abstract message conveyed phenomenologically through linear pseudo-gameplay? Check.
Every Day the Same Dream is pretty blunt. You definitely get the idea, as it's hammered into you no fewer than five times as you play. You get where this is going, even if the ending still comes as a bit of a shocker. It's something to play at work -- maybe in a cramped cubicle of your own, wedged in-between a morning performance review with your boss and your 15-minute lunch break -- and ponder. It's all just very fitting.
After all, the Flash distraction, like Casual Friday, is really the corporate drone's trusty lifeline. A quick digital flight of fancy is all you need to stop yourself from jumping off the top of the tower. So here's a prime example of using the tools of the culture to damn the culture.
What interests me is thinking of ways Every Day the Same Dream might've had less "art" and more "game." Sure, it feels poignant to hold down the left or right arrow keys as your little character shuffles listlessly across the office. But that's a pretty listless way to glean a kernel of poignancy. It's hardly a call to action.
Is a twitch game, a reflex game, a game game, a better medium by which to snap out of these corporate doldrums? Or is it just a nihilistic escape, like jumping off the top of the tower?
In any case, Every Day the Same Dream doesn't take too long to finish. And it does make you feel better about yourself, even if the nonconformist conscience that you demonstrate is really the author's and not your own. Post your reactions, general skepticism, ire or total apathy below.