Axel Shokk has his own unique formula for the perfect video game: colorful graphics, surreal artwork, exciting music, and no gameplay. No enemies, no quests, no rewards… just the TRIP. The US-based artist and game developer’s avant-garde “game” is all about enjoying the artwork and learning to be one with the abstract world. All he asks of the player is to explore, observe, and relax.
Shokk’s major influences include contemplative escapist games such as Journey and LSD: Dream Emulator, where the enjoyment of play comes from simply exploring the game’s world and witnessing the dream experience. Games such as these transform our concept of “game” from something competitive and goal-orientated to something more like a meditative journey. The goal becomes less clear. Instead of concentrating on the defeat of our enemies, these games encourage introspection and reflection, guided by an unfamiliar, but not unfriendly, hypnotic world.
TRIP was built in Unity, funded through a successful Kickstarter campaign in March, and is currently available for Mac OS X and PC, though Shokk is also thinking about releasing an iPhone and Android version. It’s also worth mentioning that some pretty sweet bonuses come with purchase of the game, including a selection of Shokk’s of artwork, two extra Flash games, and a preview of a visual novel that the artist has been working on.
Though it’s not for everyone, there’s no doubt TRIP is an interesting take on the video game. What do you think? Can a game without gameplay still be a video game? Or is it closer to interactive art?