I haven’t covered any of the Twiny Jam submissions in this weekly article for good reason. Of the handful of games I played, the word count restriction was just that: a restriction. Rarely did any of the games incorporate the low word count into the experience. LavenderMafia’s Bildungsroman not only uses the low word count to reinforce its themes, it also focuses on a topic that games don’t touch on too often.
I don’t see much point to describing such a short experience so, if you haven’t played Bildungsroman yet, go ahead and hit the link at the bottom of this article and come back when you are done.
The first thing I did after finishing this Twine was Google search the title. Bildungsroman is a German noun, “a novel dealing with one person’s formative years or spiritual education.” This is key to understanding the truth about the dark room, that the story is actually about a fetus in the womb. It is important to note that the act of birth isn’t referenced at all. The focus is devoted to the time spent in the womb. This stands in stark contrast to what is shown in mainstream video games. Both Fallout 3 and Assassin’s Creed 2 open with the birth of the player character — Fallout 3 even utilizes a first person perspective for this — and a few Aliens games show this with the chestbursters. However, I can’t think of a single video game that explores any of the nine months before birth. In fact, media and culture as a whole have a way of neglecting it as well.
The message that Bildungsroman ends with is that despite it being a shared experience for all human beings, nobody ever talks about the time before birth. Discussions aren’t found in video games, movies, books, or even in casual banter with friends or family. The last line says it all, “And when you do [talk about the room], it’s always with a nervous laugh.” This last line probably affects me more than most as I am now writing about this and am constantly fumbling my words and rewriting sentences because I don’t have a strong vocabulary for this topic of discussion.
Bildungsroman takes a stand and focuses on a topic that is just shy of taboo in such an elegant way. Despite the lack of conversation surrounding the topic, LavenderMafia has opened up a dialogue regarding it in hopes that others with join in. This is what games can be. This is what games can do.
Created by: LavenderMafia
Can Be Found at: http://lavendermafia.itch.io/bildungsroman