when my friend mattie brice was still planning mainichi, she described it to me as being inspired by passage. passage is a game about a single human lifetime, where you wander a hollow landscape (with a woman partner, if you choose) until you die of old age. it’s a white cisgender man’s game. what would passage look like if it described the life of someone who had more to struggle with daily than the possibility of dying in their seventies or eighties?

11 thoughts on “mainichi”

  1. I’m not really sure I see the relation to passage, as passage was a super abstract work about the nature of mortality and this is a more concrete example of life as a transwoman.

    I think in direct comparison, that game what all with the square you had to change colors in order sneak by other squares was a little more like passage.

    Nice game, though. RMVX used to good effect and nice writing.

  2. @Jake Passage probably seems more abstract if you’re a straight man, since you don’t even notice the gender/etc assumptions.

    But the journey you make is certainly pretty abstracted, though I’d disagree with the original post that it doesn’t represent any struggle in life — when I played it I found the randomly generated terrain frequently forced me quite far out of my way, which I’d assumed was supposed to represent (again in an abstract way) the obstacles life might throw at you.

  3. From what I understand the gender was less a point than creating a work that spoke to the majority of people w/r/t mortality; which is still married straight folk no matter how you slice it. One way or another I’m not a straight male, and even if I were I’m a thoroughly educated person so the apparent gender/sexual orientation is not actually lost on me.

    It’s interesting anyway how much anna does read into a minimalist game. Part of the point of minimalism is to reflect on how a person approaches a work, what concerns of theirs it shows. Anna interprets it as being a relatively easy coast through life to old age (as compared to her life or the life of her friends). I interpret it as a statement of mortality and the ultimate futility of life expressed using some pretty generic figures. A criticism from anna might be (and really probably is) that rorher should have produced a variety or generic figures that fit a wider range of humanity. It’s a fair criticism, though I personally think that kind of misses the point. It doesn’t matter who you’re playing as, only that you’re inevitably dead.

    W/r/t this game, I can see how it represents a struggle of fighting both an uncompromising society for the right to self-identity and the attendant depressive ennui that comes from being a first world citizen whose lifestyle is relatively static (that “I’m depressed” feeling would and does happen to anyone who gets up and does the same thing every single day). Anna offers a relatively short description in the form of a criticism of another game, which I guess means she thinks it’s a better expression of passage’s themes than passage? I’m not sure. Anna rarely gives particularly deep analyses on her blog (she does sometimes!), instead using it more as a promotional and polemical tool, often leveraging a game she’s promoting as an alternative to some other game she’s criticizing.

  4. I can’t play mainichi, but I think one thing that makes Passage seem blind to its white straight male cisgenderedness* is that the landscape is very abstract while the characters are specifically characterized as Rohrer and his wife. The landscape is Everylandscape rather than anything specific, which makes it seem as though the characters are meant to be Everyman and his Everywife.

    Compare the awesome Walk Or Die, where the landscape is detailed and recognizably a landscape — trees, mountains, birdsong — but the protagonist is a stick figure (maybe coded as male, and literally white). That makes it feel to me less as though Walk Or Die is trying to be about everyone’s experience and more about one journey through one landscape. Or the game with the square, where the characters are as abstract as the landscape.

    Walk or Die doesn’t deal with any of the problems that the protagonist of Passage doesn’t have to worry about (see Amanda Lange’s list); maybe that too is a reflection of the author’s not having to deal with the same problems. And the characters in Passage have to be specifically drawn for you to see them age. Maybe the problem isn’t so much the game as the hype, or maybe it’s that nothing that isn’t from a similar perspective is getting the same attention.

    *Disclosure: I’m all those things.

  5. I absolutely agree about hype. I think rorher hit a lucky combination (no doubt helped by his straight white maleness, as well as wherever he lived/s and whatever gregarious aspects of his personality he leverages) of people he knew who would promote his work that really didn’t happen to the literal hundreds of other people who may or may not have made a similar game from a different perspective. And now that he’s got ahold of the hype reins, all future games that might look similar start getting measured up to rohrer’s “original,” whether better or worse or actually totally different.

    Some people will argue convincingly that the hype for a game should be included in criticism involved, but I tend to see the two as being completely separate spheres, one being what is the actual work and the other what is said about the work. The line between the two is often blurred in criticism, largely because criticism itself is usually a more holistic expression of “how I feel about this game and why” and not a specific expression of “what does this game do?”

    I think that has to do with the way we teach criticism as being the former and the way we pretend that the latter is just dry objective description and not perfectly valid.

    One of the reasons I RSS this blog is because it grants hype to littler games and often provides some level of the latter school of criticism (you could say “analysis,” but that just has further connotations of objectivity) in it. Anna is a pretty smart woman, though she occasionally lets sloth and her vituperative approach to politics get in the way of her intelligence.

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