As in Eric Kripke’s Revolution, The Long Dark imagines a world in which a “geomagnetic event” turns out the lights forever, ending humanity’s reign and repositioning nature for a comeback tour. But instead of the collapse happening while you’re traipsing through a balmy, subtropical clime replete with fruit trees, fishable waters and swinging hammocks, you’re somewhere in the vicinity of the Arctic Circle. And winter isn’t coming, it’s a bone-cracking fact.
The game wraps a biometric data cube around that nihilistic narrative, monitoring, in real-time, things like thirst, hunger, body temperature, fatigue, calories consumed, injuries (sprains, broken bones) and illness. It’s also keeping tabs on environmental metrics like ambient air temperature (inside or out) relative to variables like wind and weather, the time of day, and whether you’re in shadow or sunlight. If you find better clothes, you stay a little warmer. If you find water-purification tablets, you can render polluted water potable. If you find wood, matches and a sheaf of newspapers, you can build a fire.
That sounds an awful lot like a graphical version of A Dark Room, the strange game that Ellis called the “Extinction Aesthetic equiv of Minecraft.”
From the New Yorker‘s profile of the game:
The game’s ever-expanding scope and regular demands for micro-managing resources create an enthralling parallax effect that can keep devoted players dosed, for hours, on the pleasurable sense of immersion that the psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi calls “flow.” The longer you play, the more complicated the game’s gathering and building tools become, with each incremental addition widening the game’s scope, while introducing unsettling hints about what it all could mean. Why do you sometimes find cloth caught in your traps? And why does the game suddenly start calling the few workers who’ve come to help you slaves?
Is this the beginning of a trend? Are there other examples I don’t know about?