Hello everyone. I recently played a game called “The Static Speaks My Name”, and it has left such a mark on me that I thought I would talk about it a bit. You see, I played the game once, horribly, and I’ve really wanted to go back and replay it. But I can’t.
Warning: This is an in-depth look at the game. There will be SPOILERS. Stop now and go play it, or read on and accept your fate.
The thing is I can’t even think about the game without being unsettled. I haven’t even watched my playthrough of it because it’s just so uncomfortable. I know I made a bunch of mistakes because I knew I was making them at the time and I didn’t care, I just wanted the game to end. I did make the game end, to my relief, in under 10 minutes. I was taken aback at how quick it was, to the point of regret. I knew I should’ve looked around, I knew I should’ve really checked everything. I never found the man in the cage, and that bothers me.
That night, after playing the game, I laid awake thinking about it. I knew that the idea of the “Man in the Cage” worried me, I knew I was given the impression of having a choice, and in my haste to escape, I flipped the circuits and probably killed the man. But I wanted to believe that the man had never existed, I wanted to think that it was all in the characters head–the character that I was playing. I couldn’t sleep, so I googled it. There he was, a man on all fours in a cage, and before I read anything, I knew where he had been, because I had known he was there the whole time; I just couldn’t take the thought of finding him.
It was after I looked in an empty fridge, after the horrifying notion that this person was eating his living pets, after passing the barrier of fuzzy television sets for the second time, I saw the bookcase peeking out from behind the door. In any other game, I would’ve done what all good gamer’s do: click on everything. However, I saw that bookcase and I kept walking, because whatever it was, I didn’t want to know.
I didn’t want to know what was in the microwave, I didn’t want to know why a noose was on the washing machine, I didn’t want to know what the deal with the palm tree pictures was, and I certainly wasn’t going to make a connection with all of this and the article about the missing painter. I didn’t want to know, and more importantly, I didn’t want this person to keep telling me to do things that only made sense to them.
To be plunged into the body of someone whose mind is disturbed, a mind that doesn’t see the twisted nature of their actions, and a mind who is so utterly and hopelessly alone; this, more than anything, unsettled me the most. This person has spiraled down into a dark place, a place where they grasp to things with little reasoning, and commit actions too dark to mention, and there is no one there for them. Even the words they type on the internet are blasted off into oblivion without a single eye to read them, which was fine, because this person could’ve never told them just how scared they were, or how much they needed help.
The truth is that other minds are scary, and lonely minds are scarier still.
“It wasn’t this creature’s poverty-stricken look that frightened us, nor the tumour he had on his neck that rubbed against the edge of his collar: but we felt that he was shaping thoughts of crab or lobster in his head. And that terrified us, the fact that one could conjure thoughts of lobsters on the sentry-boxes, on our hoops, on the bushes. Is that what awaits me then? For the first time I am disturbed at being alone. I would like to tell someone what is happening to me before it is too late and before I start frightening little boys” (Sartre, Nausea, 1938, p. 9)
I’ve thought about this game every night since I’ve played it, and it keeps me awake. Not just the eeriness of a life unchecked, but something worse. When I was told to let my body rest, I was afraid of what I might be asked to do, but when I saw the chair and the noose in the closet my heart began to slow it’s anxious pounding: I was relieved.
Needless to say, I did an awful job of keeping the mood light in the video, and an awful job of doing the game justice. So once again, play it for yourself, it won’t take long, and you’ll be thankful for that.