November 9th, 2006

I like small spaces.  Closets.  Attics.  Pantry shelves.  Okay, I don’t fit in that last one anymore.  But, as the saying goes between Scott and me, I am big on holes.

Add that to my general fascination to all things spooky, and, as you can imagine, you get a major cave obsession.  There… just… so… cool… It’s a visceral thing, almost dream-like.  All those unpredictable, organic, interior spaces.  It makes me happy.

My favorite video games are those that they remind of caves (as usual, I’m thinking of Mario64)–in their contained nature, in their need to be explored, in their compartmentalized, area-to-area quality, in their surreal dimensions. 

The game idea that I was working on a while back (Yes, Patrick, I know, I’m a slacker) was actually based on recreating this sense of interior exploration.  I’m not the first one to think about the link between caves and games though.  Apparently Miyamoto’s original inspiration for The Legend of Zelda was a childhood spent exploring caves.

Who knew?  Apparently everyone but me.

Tags: Blog

6 Responses to “Games as Caves”

  1. BrainFromArous Says:

    Two cave fun-facts:

    (1) The love of tight, closed-off spaces is claustrophilia. Isaac Asimov openly admitted to having it. He once remarked that he would love to work in a subway magazine stand where he could lock himself in and read all day long.

    (2) Scuba-diving in (underwater) caves is one of the most dangerous sports in the world. Apart from being a qualified diver, the amount of training, planning and care is just ridiculous.

  2. BrainFromArous Says:

    Let us acknowledge the seminal – OMG Patriarchy! – role of the chthonic in computer gaming well before the NES or even the VCS… going back to Crowther’s Colossal Cave Adventure for mainframes & minis.

    Microcomputers, too. Wizardry: PGotMO was one long dungeon romp, as were Epyx’s Apshai games. Rogue and its manifold offspring also deserve a nod.

    And outside of computing, of course, Gygax and Arneson didn’t call it *Dungeons* & Dragons for nothing.

  3. Adam Says:

    I heard that about Miyamoto, which I found pretty interesting. It never struck me as a cave-like game but going back, almost all the goodies you get are from a cave or at least densely-crowded forest / dungeon.

  4. Patrick Says:

    I actually get a kick out of small spaces as well. When I was a kid I used to play “monster in cacoon” in which I’d hatch out of an afgan and begin my life as a monster, but it turned out I enjoyed the early-game more than the end-game so I’d always keep going back under the afgan. How oedipal is that?

    You’re no slacker Bonnie, you’ve become increasingly accomplished in game’s journalism and I can see you becoming on of our premiere critics. And this medium needs that in a major way. It just happens that about eight months ago I started driving at becoming a small-time producer and let my journalism taper off, and you kept on at it. I’d say niether of us is a slacker, and I probably smoked a lot more pot in the meantime. :)

    As far as the cave thing, thats interesting, but I’m actually incubating a casual game concept thats quite different. Its more like Nintendogs meets Calvin and Hobbes, but with a girl instead of a boy. I’m thinking the activities you can do with your pet will be different Calvin-esque escapisms, and cave delving makes a lot of sense, so that might become a minor part of the play.

  5. Bonnie Says:

    You're no slacker Bonnie.
    Huh, did you call me one? Sorry, my head must still be in Canada. By the way, Patrick, I’m surprised I didn’t see you there. Not your scene? There were lots of gaming celebs just waited to get carded ;).

    As for claustrophilia, first of all that rocks, and second of all, what does it mean when you both love small spaces and get totally freaked out by them at the same time?  The idea of wiggling through an air duct, for example… Jeezie, it just makes me want to die.  Maybe it’s the masochist in me havin’ a ball.

  6. BrainFromArous Says:

    As for claustrophilia, first of all that rocks, and second of all, what does it mean when you both love small spaces and get totally freaked out by them at the same time? The idea of wiggling through an air duct, for example"¦ Jeezie, it just makes me want to die. Maybe it's the masochist in me havin' a ball.

    Well, “small spaces” and constriction are two distinct things, Bonster. I have no fear of heights qua heights but strongly dislike being near a ledge or window in a tall building. Yet I have no problem at all with window seats on airplanes.

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