the artistry and psychology of gaming


The Tender Cut

The Tender Cut

Welcome to Gaming on the House; don’t look down and and mind your step! In this feature, we’ll be climbing the rooftops of the gaming industry to seek out worthwhile experiences that everyone can track down and play, and the best part is they’ll all be free! That’s right; FREE! Gratis. Comp’d. Unbound. Unrestricted. Zero-down. On the House!… we talk about free games here, is my point.

Many may be surprised at the breadth of ideation and innovation found in games when there’s no monetary commitment attached, offering a unique learning experience for players and developers alike. Taking together all the flash and browser games, freeware downloads from the independent scene, speed programming archives, free-to-play business modules, and even promotional re-releases from big name publishers, there’s a never ending supply of great games new and old waiting to be played, and it’s our goal to play them all!

The Tender Cut


Genre: First-Person Adventure
Link to Game:
Game Info: An interactive inspirational tribute to the 1928 Dali/Buñuel short film Un Chien Andalou, released in April 2015 by developer No, thanks.

When Un Chien Andalou originally premiered to the Parisian elite it was met with praise and applause; something unanticipated by its creators Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí as they had actually intended to insult their audience. Not only had the film’s imagery been loaded up with all manner of grotesqueries (an eyeball being sliced open, a hand covered with ants, rotting livestock, etc), but their creative process was entirely dismissive of the status quo; pulling contents from their own psyche with reckless abandon while peers would assign meaning and applied symbolisms to every aesthetic action and object on screen. The film, by way of how it was constructed, is effectively meaningless.

In the leaflet provided at the premiere, Buñuel himself wrote: “NOTHING, in the film, SYMBOLIZES ANYTHING. The only method of investigation of the symbols would be, perhaps, psychoanalysis.” With that all said… there’s a lot of penises in this game.


Surrealist innuendo aside, the game provides a fun interactive toybox featuring several objects from the short film; some appearing as before, and some re-purposed into light point and click puzzles. The game is on par with the film itself for length (about 15 minutes), and tracks progress of how you interact with the world with an ending screen hinting at the interactivity you didn’t discover, not dissimilar to the points scoring and alternate endings of graphic adventures past.

It also makes really great use of something not everyone’s a fan of, and that’s temporarily removing the player’s control to  force the camera to turn in a certain direction. This is a frustrating concept used by many games in the first-person as they tend to be a)reminders that we’re in a virtual world and b) usually they’re a cheap fail-safe mechanism for developers to ensure the player sees whatever visual spectacle they’ve cooked up in a particular direction. I tend to see these camera tricks as a breach in player trust with minimal exceptions, but it’s used effectively here as the reason for moving the camera in the first place has been reversed; instead of pointing the camera toward what the player should see, the camera shies away from it – teasing the player with tantalizing glimpses without the ability to study further. The movement itself fits very well into the surrealist dreamscape of the film and game, and it helps to keep the intrigue of certain events high when full camera control would have satiated the player’s fascination to the point of boredom. It’s always great to see that even some of the most objectionable design choices in modern games can be implemented well when in the right development hands.


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