Behind my television is a snake nest of electronic cables. I put it there. These coiling black and gray wires feeding the sockets in my wall, powering the appliances deemed necessary in my life; an unkempt pile of synergized technology. Likewise, the innards of my PC that I precariously clasped and inserted is a tiny metropolis of circuitry and overlapping leads. I have to maintain all of these cables, remember what goes where, all in order to keep it functioning.
This is not unusual. I am not an engineer with years of training operating a space station. We’re all used to this by now. As the snail that transports its shell around with it, we bag and bundle our electronics and all their interstitial media every time we move home. Intrinsic to this is going through that hellish, fiddly process of plugging everything back in. How many times have you had to rewire your possessions? Ugh.
It’s this that Christian Schnellmann’s iOS and Android puzzle game AUX B emulates. He drew from the challenges that face the audio engineers at the B-Sides Music Festival, held every June in Lucerne, Switzerland. As with most music festivals, they have tons of equipment to set-up, all of it connected by cables. If any one of these isn’t plugged in correctly then the loudspeakers remain silent. The festival would be as good as dead—its ignition relies upon all the laborious untangling and solving the puzzle of wires that follows it.
In AUX B, Schnellmann pares this down to a single speaker. You have to use audio jacks to connect the socket at the top of the screen to the one at the bottom. In between is a grid of holes, all of them a possibility as you try to configure a path downwards, transferring power from one section to the next. “It’s a labyrinth,” Schnellmann says. “Not of walls, but of cables.” Sometimes, after minutes of head-scratching, you get close to completion, perhaps one connection out, then you realize you’ve ran into a dead end and have to unplug everything to start over.
(B-Sides Music Festival 2014, photos from Instagram)
It’s not as dejecting as it may sound. When you draw the wires with your finger, from one socket to the next, it appears as if by magic like a thick rubber snake. And if you take one end out its home the body flops around with a delightful droop. Then there’s the satisfaction of figuring out the correct arrangement of interlaced wires, triggering the speaker to belt out the music you’ve facilitated.
If the promise of an energetic tune isn’t enough to pull you through all 80 of AUX B‘s levels, then there is another incentive. Schnellmann is actually working with the organizers of the B-Sides Music Festival to give away three 3-day tickets to any one who completes the game before May 15th 2015. So if you’re free from June 11-13, and call yourself a music lover, consider giving this smartphone puzzle game a shot.
You can download AUX B for free on the iOS App Store and Google Play. You can find out more about the B-Sides Music Festival on its website.