Unfinished Swan

“Unfinished Swan” is an interactive project from Ian Dallas. The player exists in an all white world, which is slowly revealed as the player shoots black paint over the walls.

Ian insists on calling this a “game”, but I don’t think that’s really a good word for something like this. Games have goals and rewards. This doesn’t. There’s no story, no goals, no explicit reward. It’s an experience, an interesting experience to be sure, but it’s a paradoxically a passive one.

During his talk at TGS 2008 he says he’s surprised that “players” universally became bored within 20 seconds. The reason seems obvious, the lack of goals. I enjoyed watching the demo, but at the same time, I can’t imagine actually playing this for very long.

It seems like he’s going for sublime enjoyment, sort of like Katamari Damacy, but he’s forgotten that Katamari had goals and rewards. Yes, Katamari was a very stylish and simple game, but it was fun because of the challenges. Without challenges there’s nothing to motivate the player, and so he/she quickly becomes bored. Since Unfinished Swan doesn’t have goals, it’s much more of an interactive video rather than a “game”. Not that that’s a bad thing per se, but they should not be confused. If Swan had a story, not even really challenges, I could see it working more as a game. Judging from the demo above, there’s potentially one there, but from his all too brief talk, I wonder if he’s trying to make it too open ended and free form.

Thanks Paul.