Songlines, a thesis project by MFA Interactive Media graduate student Samantha Vick is a “playable musical creation myth” dictated by a player’s gestural movement that sculpts the landscape surrounding them via the Kinect platform.
Songlines is similar to Flower in some aspects, but different in many ways. Similar to Flower, Songlines is a game that thematically embraces nature and provides the player with a vibrant visual landscape that responds to physical movement by the player not only visually but more importantly through sound. However, unlike Flower, Songlines is a sandbox game enabling a player to sculpt and mould the world around them without setting goals or linear paths for a player to follow. Furthermore there is no lose state in the game. Thus a player is empowered with the ability to create and shape the world around them as they see fit.
The mechanics of the game involve the ability to erect, deform, and texture terrain within a 3D environment by means of arm movements involving simple gestures. The different types of terrain a player can create are mountains, deserts, grasslands, forests, and water. Each terrain depending on their physical characteristics has a distinct sound culminating into a musical soundscape created by the player “via a custom recombinant music system, based on a hierarchy of rules”. Thus a player is giving the power of creation through visual landscapes, but also by means of sound. By doing so, increases the sense of immersion by providing the player with a rich and vibrant soundscape that intuitively reacts to their gestural movements as they create the world around them.
Songlines thematically is about the harmony between music, dance, and creation. The cumulative effect of gestural movements during gameplay mimics the dance ritual of tribesman. This is where Songlines excels by conveying a parallel between the act of creating landscapes via gestural movements (dance) and musical feedback a player receives from creating a variety of terrains that produce a soundscape unique to that particular player. Interestingly enough as a player shapes the world around them. The player becomes subconsciously immersed in the musical soundscape driven by the vast landscapes they create. Consequently a player’s rhythm of gestural movements is influenced by their innate instinct to stay in harmony with the ritualistic chants and beats of the drums that comprise the musical soundscape that is dictated by the terrain the player creates. As a result, a player feels a sense of primordial aurora eliciting emotions of empowerment, freedom of expression, and joy.
Songlines is a game about expression and becoming in tune with one’s inner self.