Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Brief Look at Intertextual Commodity in Slender: the 8 Pages

Slender is a first person survival horror game by Parsec Productions that follows the Interactive Game of the Cult Film form titled Slender: The Eight Pages. I chose Slender because it offers an opportunity to incorporate text from Murray and Marshall and because it's development is unique; it's a indie-free-game based on forum posts.

Slender is a free game that sets the player in a dark forest in the middle of the night. The player can sprint for a brief amount of time and has a flash light to illuminate the surroundings that they can turn on and off. There are no more controls than this which makes the game easily accessible The flash light has a battery that cannot be recharged or replaced and the player does not know this until the first time the flashlight goes out. At this point they are stuck in the dark. The puzzle aspect of Slender is to find the eight pages that are placed on the games forest map. This is difficult because the pages could be in one of many spots and are randomly placed in one of many set locations each time a new game is started. This adds to fear in the game as the player is never sure where the pages are.

In a comical/parodic way Slender plays with the contest element that Murray talks about. In this way it's quite progressive; when you collect all pages you gain nothing. There are some extra options unlocked from the main menu but the narrative is linked with this presentation; the player dies no matter what. Therein lies some of the collaborative improvisation between the player and the creator of the game; there is no escape from the Slender. But what is the Slender?

Slender is a creature who hides in the woods. He can stretch his arms out to a length of about fifty feet and eats small children. He is afraid of the light and when struck with the players flashlight Slender will sit still. However if the player looks at Slender the screen will begin to fill with static, blinding the player. At this point they must run away or they will be stunned from viewing Slender and then killed by him. This creates a strong feeling of fear and a desire to win the contest: don't die by Slender. In the end, the contest cannot be won, as the player dies no matter what, an interesting commentary between creator and player/user.

Intertexual commodity is here in a unique way; Slender is based off of a forum post on the online website Something Awful. The post gained popularity when the idea of a "Slender Man" surfaced. Soon the story line and characters became based off of aggregated posts. In a way it was created much like a wiki which shows another element of intertextual commodity. Slender itself references it's roots through its design/imagery but it also references it directly in it's ReadMe (manual for PC games), letting the user/player know that this is based off posts from Something Awful. The game/story/mythos has become so popular there is now another version in the works unrelated to The 8 Pages called Slender: Source based off the Source engine (Half-Life series). These elements make the game procedural and participatory, as it is updated regularly based on player/user input. Slender's biggest success is it's ability to show a narrative rather than tell it with the various landmarks that the player visits which visually tell an abstract story with no limitations or boundaries beyond the confines of the game's one map.

Game Links:

No comments:

Post a Comment