The Missing Piece was composed in response to Olli Tapio Leino’s paper, titled “Performing and Audiencing Profound Boredom in Euro Truck Simulator 2 Multiplayer: An Existential-Ludological Perspective on Computer Games and Performance.” I identified particularly with two of the themes in the paper: firstly, the idea of nongames or boring games, that is, games without a perceivable goal, and secondly the idea of empathizing with a nonhuman avatar. Thus I created a game in which the goal of the game play is not clear, but the player is guided, or encouraged, to engage with the environment in certain ways. Large crystals are distributed throughout an endlessly generated, continuous runner environment, disappearing as soon as the player walks over them. Audio and visual results occur as the player collects these objects and become more dramatic as more objects are collected—the world changes from a colorless environment to a more and more colorful one. However, this also makes the player’s base speed much faster, which means it becomes more difficult to collect objects. When objects are not collected within a certain amount of time, the player’s base speed decreases and the visual changes disappear. A live instrumentalist—Szilárd Benes on the bass clarinet—was used in the performance of the game to explore the idea of empathy with a nonhuman avatar in performances. All of the avatar’s movements beyond the continuous base speed are the result of the performer’s audio input. Therefore, the performer needs to exert quite a bit of effort in order to turn, speed up, or jump to collect objects. This results in game play being much more difficult than it appears, producing a frustration on the part of the audience, as the player struggles to perform what should be a very simple task.
Alyssa Aska The Missing Piece
performed by Szilárd Benes (bass clarinet)
audio recording: Ulrich Gladisch
audio editing: Alyssa Aska, Marko Ciciliani
video production: ndbewegtbild
recorded on December 17, 2019 in the György Ligeti Hall/MUMUTH of the University of Music and Performing Arts Graz, Austria.
Duration of video: 14 minutes 38 seconds
GAPPP is funded by the Austrian Science Fund FWF as project PEEK AR 364-G24.