Few things are as seemingly pointless in games as waiting. Be it a loading screen, cut scene or other ghastly obstacle denying a player their chance to directly affect a gameworld, start buttons will be hammered, keys mashed and mouse buttons clicked within inches of their lifespan as the fragility of a captive audience’s attention span is tested.
Maybe in such cases, the game and player are reversed, and the game actually plays its audience?
This is one theory that can be leveled at the intentions of Devi Ever’s experimental A Game of Cat and Mouse. The player is instructed that it is a game of patience, and they can escape at any point if bored. Interaction is a simple case of moving a macintosh-wearing mouse left or right, using an umbrella to ‘protect’ a nigh-indistinguishable pixel corpse from erosion due to rainfall. The sound design aids this perfectly, and establishes a sombre air of futility before the game ends of its own accord.
There is no ‘lose’ or ‘win’ condition in this game, as noted with Dys4ia before it, and so the intention is unclear. However, this projects pure nihilism on the part of the player. What does it really matter if the rain washes away part of the corpse? Was the corpse a friend or foe, and why should we even care? What are we waiting for?
Ultimately there is no point. The player simply watches the game end, or becomes impatient and reaches for the ‘escape’ key to prevent further protraction of this procrastination.
As a game, this is ultimately lacking in almost every kind of stipulation that could qualify for gamification. However, this is beside the point; the very same point this game lacks, but has in spades — that there is no point.
Sample this interactive expression for yourself on Devi’s website.