the artistry and psychology of gaming


Monochrome World (Yume Nikki)

Monochrome World (Yume Nikki)

There are many places I’ve been in my life, but none have been more fascinating – perhaps even addicting – as the mind of a young woman.  Her name is Madotsuki, and she lived as a shut-in in a small, one-room apartment with a balcony.  She owned very few possessions, but two were especially precious to her: a bed and a diary.  The diary was where she recorded her dreams, and what wonderful dreams they were.  The more time I spent in her mind, the harder it was for me to leave.

One particular area of her mind that caught my attention was a monochromatic desert.  It was a barren wasteland, completely devoid of color.  Its appearance resembled an old sketchbook brought to life.  I felt it had a somewhat nostalgic appearance to it, though many have described it as disturbing.  Do you remember times in your youth when you used to doodle strange things on notebook paper out of boredom?  Think of those drawings as a real world of its own; that’s the best way I can think to describe this place.

As is true with most areas within Madotsuki’s dreams, it is a spatial paradox.  The axes wrap around to each other, so reaching the end of the area brings you right back to the beginning, even without your knowledge, if you’re not paying attention.  Because of this, it’s really difficult to describe the area, since it has no straight paths from one area to another.  It is truly the explorer’s paradise, since there is very little to disturb you, and in this particular area, there is nothing to stand in your way.

Most of the area is filled with white, empty space.  There are a few common features, such as spires, cacti of all shapes and sizes, puddles of an unidentifiable sludge, and strange chest-high walls.  They are all arranged in unique ways.  There is a stretch of what looks like a typical desert with many different cacti.  You’ll also find several labyrinths formed by spiraling walls.  The mouth of a strange half-head with googly eyes and a set of clawed hands with bleeding palms will take you to another dream area filled with geometrical objects.  What I find most fascinating about this area, however, is what I found in the two tunnels therein.

The first tunnel I found was out in the middle of nowhere.  One could easily see both sides of it from the outside.  In fact, it looked rather small.  There was a circular path that left one opening, curved around to the south, then back into the other opening of the tunnel, making a never-ending path.  There was a strange man, who looked like a sketch himself, wandering the area.  He simply stood still, watching as I strode through the tunnel over and over again, unable to truly enter it.  This world of dreams has strange powers over the minds of its wayfarers, at least those not acclimated to its climate.  I’m not proud to say it, but this world got the best of me.  Without emotion, I walked up to the strange man, drew my blade, and ran him through.  He let out a death shriek, spraying blood before he disappeared.  I swung my blade to clean it of his innards, then entered the tunnel, now able to reach the inside.

Inside, it looked almost identical, except that the terrain was completely black and featureless.  I wandered around in this endless vortex, seemingly for hours, until I met a pretty young woman, also devoid of color.  She wandered aimlessly, her ceaseless smile a seeming beacon of her being oblivious to my presence.  To get her attention, I approached her, and touched her softly on the shoulder.  My vision was pulled into my mind, thus all I could see was my thoughts: a still image of the young woman from the bust up.  When the image faded and my vision returned to the world in front of me, she was gone.  I made my way back to the tunnel, and entered it, leading me outside.

The second tunnel I found was along the only road in this area.  I entered it to find that the area was much smaller than that of the other tunnel’s interior.  There was only a road from one end to the other, and I was unable to step off of it.  Inside, I found another young woman with two ponytails, just as colorless as her surroundings.  She walked back and forth, also seemingly oblivious to my presence.  Likely possessed by this world’s influence yet again, I pulled an object from my bag, which emitted a red light.  Upon seeing this light, she transformed right before my eyes.  The young girl sprouted a new arm from each forearm and another hand from the crown of her head, making a total of 5 hands.  There was now a bloody stoma in the middle of her belly, and her left eye oozed unendingly, giving the appearance that she was crying.  I approached this beautiful mutant and embraced her, but as with the other girl, my vision was pulled inward, and all I could see was her image spiraling around in my sight.  With that, I was ejected from the dream, feeling lost because of what I’d left behind, much like a drug addict must feel upon sobering up.

I often think about that 5-handed young woman and the young woman who brought her to life, if only as she slept.  It took me a long time to come to terms with her ephemeral nature.  You see, a dream is a world that exists within your own mind, and takes place at a time when the barriers of logic and consistency that form the existence you call “normal” are down.  That is why dreams seem so strange to us: they have no rules governing their structure or laws of nature.  There is no actual reality to back up our perceptions in dreams, thus they are like incomplete manifestations of what we know to be reality.  It is for this reason that I disagree with those who refer to outer space as the final frontier.  Sure, it’s good enough for those interested only in material gains, but for the rest of us, the true final frontier is the mind, for it is always changing, and contains infinite possibilities, limited not even by the scope of our own experiences.

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