Sunday 4 August 2019

Pebbles in a Jar

It’s been just over a year now since I first exhibited The Book Ritual. After multiple tweaks and changes I’m happy to say that it’s reached a point where I think it’s complete. The Book Ritual, at version 1.3.1, with the custom-modified shredder living in a real-world environment and piles of paper shreds mounting over several days, is the game it always needed to be.

The Book Ritual on exhibition at A MAZE 2019 

It’s been an exciting year. It was part of the Leftfield Collection at EGX, and then was nominated for the Most Creative Game Award at PLAY18. In 2019 I took it to GDC, where it was one of the six nominees for the Alt.Ctrl.GDC award, and then to A MAZE in Berlin where it was selected as an Honourable Mention. The Shredder adopted the name Shredward, despite not being given a name the text itself. I played around in mountains of paper and I made myself a T-shirt from pictures of the old shreds.

The Book Ritual is a game that I made for myself. From its conception I knew I was not making something that could be sold, and I was not making something that would make sense to hire for parties. It was a game I needed to make because it said things I needed to say.

Creating The Book Ritual

The Book Ritual is an installation played with a real book and a real shredder. The player chooses a book and it is personified on the screen. This book asks them questions about their lives, and also has a story of its own to tell. At various points in the story the book asks the player to tear out a page and put it through the shredder. Inside the shredder are infra-red sensors that detect when paper is being fed through it. The story won’t continue until the player destroys a page.

It is a story about grief and loss, and coming to terms with the fact that loss is inevitable. It is about accepting that our memories and our connections will fade and lose their meaning over time. I like to hope it is about finding strength and new meaning in the face of sadness.