A short post in response to a short work: Andrew Plotkin’s Shade. This work begins in an apartment on the eve of a trip. As the player completes tasks in preparation for the trip, the apartment slowly (and then not so slowly) transforms. Without giving too much away, sand — first in bits, then drips, then drafts, then dunes — fills the apartment, along with some other disquieting changes to the environ. With no real puzzles and a brief narrative arc, the work can be completed relatively quickly. Like a well-crafted short story, Shade presents the reader with a beautiful, compressed image that can be contemplated beyond the bounds of the text itself.
Though I played through the work one evening several weeks ago, I find myself thinking about it a lot. I rock my three-month-old son to sleep, softly shushing to a staggered rhythm. I think about the sound of sand filling up crevices of a house. Though my son sleeps, I sleep, my wife sleeps, my daughter sleeps — and we wake up with light streaming through the windows. I turn off the sound machine in my daughter’s room, playing a short loop of ocean waves and wind lapping the sandy beach. We enter the day.