Today I’m going to write about The Bloop, from Nikki Pugh. In a way, it’s quite a difficult game to write about, because even Nikki isn’t quite sure yet how it will work—she’s testing it out at tomorrow’s Warwick Arts Centre Sandpit, and who knows how radically the design may change once real live people have given it a go?
But in another way it’s very easy to write about, because I can just say: come on, it’s a game about whales that uses beeping blacked-out proximity-detecting goggles, surely you want to play?
The game is modelled on the migration of whales, and the movement of krill; Nikki writes about it in more detail on her blog, discussing the story of the game and the construction of the goggles. Players take the role of krill, with their own krilly aims, or whales, who navigate by sound (provided by the goggles) through the ocean around them.
If you’ve been paying attention, you might be thinking: hmm, a game where people navigate by sound alone; wasn’t that Sangre y Patatas? And yep, it is – there are two navigate-by-sound games at the Weekender this year. I’ve played them both in the last fortnight; Sangre y Patatas at the ICA, and an early version of The Bloop at a workshop at the Midlands Arts Centre. And if you get the chance at the Weekender, I strongly recommend that you do try to play both. They’re both great fun in their own right, but the contrast between them is just fascinating: where Sangre is funny and visceral, The Bloop—at least for anyone playing the role of the whale—is a much more detached and alien experience. The outlandish nature of the gear you’re wearing, the slow movement of the krill as they drift around you, and above all the fact that your own sense of hearing has been replaced with the beeep beeep beep of the goggles; it’s a strange and very different way of navigating the world.
Picture by nikki pugh: sonar goggles