Don’t Let Them Die
’Don’t Let Them Die’ is a digital artwork created using game technology and exhibiting an element of emergent gameplay / narrative. It was first created and exhibited at the Skövde Kulturhus in Sweden as part of a group show. It was again exhibited as part of another group show at the ICIDS 2015 conference (International Conference on Interactive Digital Storytelling) in Copenhagen. The piece has a melancholic feel to it and is intended to evoke a sense of beauty and impermanence.
In ’Don’t Let Them Die’, observers are presented with a melancholic scene set high up in a nameless mountainscape where a flock of birds meander through the air. The birds are controlled using Craig Reynold’s ‘Boid’ flocking algorithm. Treating it as a heuristic model,the piece encourages viewers to also interpret the algorithm as a metaphor for how people relate to one another as agents within society.
The aim of the game is to try to keep the birds from dying. There is however no immediate threat to the bird’s well being and without any obvious control interface the viewer is left to wonder how this is supposed to work.
As the birds are supposed to be a reflection of people as agents within society, the birds will die with the sudden and catastrophic collapse of society. The piece is Internet enabled and has been designed to pull in live stock data once per minute. If there is a strong indication that there has been a global economic meltdown, the birds will die and fall out of the sky.
The interaction occurs outside of the game with the stock price acting as a conduit for judging society’s faith and stability in the current economic state and model of the world. A subtle narrative emerges from the viewer’s later reflection on this interaction.