Creative Director and Programmer – Matthew Martin
Graphic Designer and Animator – Sam Reddington
I RECOMMEND WATCHING THE VIDEO BEFORE READING THE ENDING OF THE GAME.
Control begins by an email or social media message, sent to the player from a friend. In the message there is an invitation for the player to try beat a challenging rotating puzzle game and win big rewards. The player plays the game by taking control of a floating hand capable of pushing, prodding and intimidating a mysterious non-player character. Every time the player moves the NPC the area it stands on – a large, cryptic and unsolved world – rotates around. The player can never interact with the world, only the NPC. Moving the NPC and the world is the main focus, with the goal on putting the world back together.
This was a game created in my second year of university in Auckland, New Zealand in 2012. It has been one of my favourite projects for its themes, inclusion of puzzles and autonomous nature. One day I hope to take this project further into a fully fleshed out game.
Through the game the player will encounter progressively difficult puzzles to help “fix” the world. These puzzles create mental barriers for the player and physical barriers for the NPC. Once all the puzzles are solved and the worldly illustrations have lined up, the player discovers the true nature of the puzzles.
Control is a simulation of a digital parasite that benefits at the expense of the player (unbeknownst to them). When the player solves the last puzzle and the illustrations all line up the NPC becomes strong enough to complete its own objective without the help of the player. The NPC reaches the center of the world where a giant button with the word ‘SEND’ is placed. Once the NPC presses the button the game flips back to the terminal screen which now shows emails being sent to all the players contacts. The puzzles of the game are actually barriers into hacking the players email account with which the digital parasite (NPC) requires the players help to get pass. By playing the game the player guides the NPC into collecting the player’s password, contacts and passageway into sending out more game invitations. Once the parasite has full access into the player’s email account it proceeds to further spread the invitation email, keeping the cycle (and itself) alive.
Control brings on ideas about a user’s own control with digital technologies. When a person wants to use a computer, television or other electronic device, they have to give in to the digital. They bring the technology to life, allowing it to spend their time and energy and trying to keep the person absorbed with the digital so the technology can stay alive. There is a large autonomous nature forming around technology to be designed at keeping users hooked. To design the technology as an inclusive part of everyday life.
The objectives of digital technology seen in this way first came from reading about the Cordyceps Unilaterus. The parasite can take over an insect into moving and acting the way the fungus wants. The insect has no choice in how it moves or acts and it is hard to know if the ant is alive. The digital parasite from Control acts in the same way but with a human host. It sucks a person into playing the game, keeping the “parasite” alive.