Anybody who’s still debating if video games can be art, or even sophisticated forms of storytelling, how’s 2005 treating you? We’ll wait here while you catch up. Everybody on the same page now? Great–let’s talk about what kind of art that games can actually be. We’ve seen everything from Hollywood-style blockbusters to abstract expressionism in games, so now, perhaps it’s time for some literary, post-modern, magic-realist storytelling.
That’s the goal for the ambitious folks behind Memoranda, an animated, 2-D point-and-click game (think Myst) based on the collected short stories of Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami. Right now, the project is in the Kickstarter phase, where it’s at $5,500 of its $13,000 goal, and the description is as vague and ethereal as anybody who got excited at “Murakami-inspired video game” might have hoped.
“The story happens in a little town, where there are both laptops and bamboo water clocks,” the description reads. “The town has a European-like architecture but that doesn’t mean it belongs to somewhere in Europe. The characters include anything from a WWII surviving soldier to an elephant taking shelter in a man’s house hoping to become human.”
That isn’t to say it’s plotless–the primary protagonist is a woman who’s lost her name, and the game’s agenda is fairly straightforward: Help her get it back.
The story and puzzle design on Memoranda are completed, and the animation and graphics are nearly there. The project’s creators at Bit Byters say coding and debugging are about 75% complete. Most of the Kickstarter funding will be used for voice acting, audio, and music. Those are things that they can’t base directly on the text of a Murakami short story, of course, which makes them especially vital to the project. Those who want to see video games progress outside of the art world and into the literary realm might consider ponying up–$16 gets a copy of the game, while $330 turns you into a nonplayer character, where you will presumably be a florist who hates flowers and is in love with a bee or something. Let’s see Call of Duty offer that.