Brevity

Poets have known it since hundreds of years: there’s beauty in brevity.

There’s this scene in Brooklyn 99—a TV series obsessed with quickness and not dragging out emotions—where Amy falls in love with Jake. Early on, we learn that when she’s insecure, she tucks her hair behind her ears. And at the end of the episode she does it when she has a moment with Jake. The moment is shown from a distance, with a handheld camera and only lingers for a second or so. There‘s no coverage of the scene, no repetition, no slow motion. It just plays out in real time and then a cut signals the end of the episode.

The beauty of this moment mostly comes from its brevity. That it plays out in real time just like such a moment would play out in life. It mirrors similar moments from our own lives where we also don’t have slow motion, a zoom, or multiple angles. And the distance adds to the feeling of being an observer as we often are in life as well. 

I’m pretty sure this type of brevity will fit the game very well. I want to make a short game and maybe also a small game but I don’t want to make a little game. It’s not only that there’s „beauty in brevity“ but also that a good short story or a good short film can feel like a complete meal, not just as a snack.

Meshes of the Afternoon by Maya Deren

If we look at a great short story or a great short film, we don’t have the feeling of something incomplete or restricted. Instead, it feels like a complete work of art irrespective of its volume. Many of my favorite short films are around 10-20 mins, yet feel like complete movies. Films like Meshes of the Afternoon by Maya Deren, La Rivière du Hibou by Robert Enrico, or Father & Daughter by Michael Dudok de Wit.

Games are particularly interesting in this regard since their „duration“ is not fixed and depends on many factors. A story-driven, linear game that is structurally similar to a movie is a very different thing than a puzzle game where the time to come up with the solution can vary greatly from player to player. Still I can imagine that even if the objective playtime is very different between two players, they can have similar experiences because each one was engaged in a similar way. It adds to the beauty of games that each player can choose their own pace, yet feel the same engagement.

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