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Where Mouse Meets Forest

By Rhizome

No longer solely for time-wasters, Massively Multiplayer Online Games (or MMOGs) are fast becoming the preferred method of conducting activities ranging from business meetings to weddings, to funerals. Trying to free these games from their often-violent plotlines are artists-designers Auriea Harvey and Michael Samyn, of Tale of Tales, a game design studio based in Gent, Belgium. Initial founders of the groundbreaking websites Entropy8 and Zuper!, the duo aim to challenge the fundamentals of game play by creating a 'plot free' experience of exploration and contemplation. 'Endless Forest' is their answer to this call. It's a third-person perspective 3D MMOG where each player assumes the likeness of a young deer running through a magical forest landscape. Harvey explains, 'We want to make paintings with game technology. Interactive, immersive, operatic paintings.' They conceived of 'Endless Forest' as 'a performance space and a screensaver, as an interactive environment masquerading as a game.' After releasing their first game, '8,' about a young girl-turned princess, the duo are attempting to use the medium as a storytelling device that replaces video gaming's traditional goal-based narratives with those of discovery and community involvement. The game is now in public beta-mode and freely downloadable at their website. - Jonah Brucker-Cohen

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