Screenshots is a regular feature by Simon Groth, highlighting a project, app, or other resource of interest.
by Casssie McQuater
Described by its creator as ‘a game about falling asleep on the internet’, Black Room comes across as a mashup of game styles and characters with a meditative bent. What begins as a 2D platform featuring an all-female cast of video game sprites from the past metamorphoses into an exploration of the ‘black room’, a visualisation exercise for an addled and over-tired imagination.
Its pixelated aesthetic draws heavily on nostalgia for early console gaming. But the game’s text is tight and evocative and its recontextualising of female game characters— lounging with flamingos, riding fantastic beasts through dayglo fantasy lands—gives it a bite it might have otherwise lacked. This is not just a longing for the past, but a recasting of it through a contemporary lens.
For a reader unfamiliar with old console and arcade games, Black Room’s gif-based visual assault and use of the web browser itself as a game mechanic brought to mind a Geocities web site. Nostalgia, after all, is highly personal thing.