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Solitaries will have you dreaming of concrete

How much does concrete weigh?

This is, on the one hand, an insultingly simple question. Take some concrete. Put it on a scale. Record the weight. Multiply by some larger number if you’re using a sample. There you have it: concrete’s weight. It’s not really a mystery.

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But it’s not that easy. There’s the not insignificant matter of heft. Concrete, by dint of the way it is used, can come to feel heavy or miraculously lightweight. This is the sort of sensation that cannot adequately be calculated with a scale. You have to experience it, and that’s where Solitaries, a procedural game created by Ivan Notaros for the Screensaver Jam, comes in.

it’ll have you dreaming of concrete

There’s nothing to do in Solitaries, and that’s just fine, thank you very much. You float through a grey world filled with polygonal structures. There are tall towers made of concrete and mirrored glass. Small, blockier structures are sprinkled around the towers like a bad parsley garnish at thanksgiving. Float around for a little bit. Take in the buildings. Take in the sky. In grayscale it appears to be made of the same material as the buildings and the ground. Maybe that’s why it all feels so weightless.

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For a material associated with permanence, concrete is in need of periodic resurgences. (One might well ask where it goes between these resurgences.) So why the latest resurgence of the ancient material? In a recent essay about Christopher Beanland’s book, Concrete Concept, The Telegraph’s Liz Hoggard, herself a recent convert to brutalism notes:

“Beanland believes our concrete nostalgia is a protest against the greed of the current housing market, with cities like London being bought up by the international super-rich. ‘The 21st-century reappraisal of brutalism is partly an attempt to re-invoke pre-1979 values of social democracy – even though the ‘democracy’ wasn’t necessarily all it was cracked up to be.'”

Solitaries is democratic. All its spaces, procedural though they may be, are for you. It’s not exactly a utopian vision, but it’ll have you dreaming of concrete.

You can download Solitaries on itch.io.