Interactive

A Collection of Magical Realist Games for Your Smartphone

Scene from 'The Worm Room' by Katie Rose Pipkin (GIF by the author for Hyperallergic)
Scene from ‘The Worm Room’ by Katie Rose Pipkin (GIF by the author for Hyperallergic)

Returning after a 20 year break, the Triennale International Exhibition, which is centered at the Triennale Museum in Milan, has a new media update. The Triennale Game Collection is a mobile exhibition accessible on smart phone or tablet, featuring five different interactive experiences by independent developers.

The Collection was released on July 14 as a free app for iOS or Android. You can stroll through generative greenhouses in “The Worm Room” by the Pittsburgh-based Katie Rose Pipkin, whose previous collaboration with Loren Schmidt on the @mothgenerator Twitter bot was covered on Hyperallergic. Pixelated blooms and exotic plants sway in front of your endless path through the bright environment. Similarly meditative, “A Glass Room” by Pol Clarissou from France has a slide show of photographs that you can scroll through in your own sequence, scenery, objects, and blue skies flickering on the walls of a digital room in a distorted narrative. And in “LOCK” by Auriea Harvey and Michaël Samyn of Tale of Tales in Belgium, you can zoom in and out of a riondala-like machine universe based on the cosmological belief of the Earth being at the center.

Scene from 'Neighbor' by Jake Elliott, Tamas Kemenczy and Ben Babbitt (courtesy Santa Ragione)
Scene from ‘Neighbor’ by Jake Elliott, Tamas Kemenczy and Ben Babbitt (courtesy Santa Ragione)

There’s no single theme for the games, with curator Pietro Righi Riva of game studio Santa Ragione focusing on creators with distinct perspectives on the medium from around the world. Each is reflective, and experimental (i.e., you cannot win them). The playful “Il Filo Conduttore” by Mario von Rickenbach and Christian Etter of Switzerland involves manipulating a cord, one action seeming to control an out-of-view music box, another a light, as various rendered objects like a walnut and peach roll by. I had the hardest time figuring out what to do with this one, but it has a satisfying and surprisingly fiery ending if you are patient.

For me, the most enjoyable game by far, and the one that kept my attention the longest, is “Neighbor” by Jake Elliott, Tamas Kemenczy, and Ben Babbitt of the American Cardboard Computer. You’re a sombrero-sporting wanderer seemingly on a retreat at a desert compound with the sun-washed colors and modernist shapes of a Ricardo Legorreta building. Like Cardboard Computer’s Kentucky Route Zero, which had its fourth act released last month, there are tones of magical realism in your exploration. Interacting with the sandy environment reveals pleasing tasks like harvesting aloe leaves, making salves at a cauldron, reflecting at a pool, and stowing cherished objects for “the far side.” Offerings left at a monolith might be taken with a can of spinach left in return. And then there’s your cowboy neighbor, whose friendship is gradually developed without words in this serene place.

Below is a preview with quick snippets from each of the five games:

The Triennale Game Collection
“Il Filo Conduttore” by Mario von Rickenbach and Christian Etter (courtesy the Triennale Game Collection)
The Triennale Game Collection
“The Worm Room” by Katie Rose Pipkin (courtesy the Triennale Game Collection)
The Triennale Game Collection
“LOCK” by Auriea Harvey and Michaël Samyn (courtesy the Triennale Game Collection)
The Triennale Game Collection
“Neighbor” by Jake Elliott, Tamas Kemenczy and Ben Babbitt (courtesy the Triennale Game Collection)
The Triennale Game Collection
“A Glass Room” by Pol Clarissou (courtesy the Triennale Game Collection)

The Triennale Game Collection is available on iTunes for iOS and for Android. The Triennale International Exhibition is in Milan through September 12.

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