What if all videogames were Breakout?

Pippin Barr is a stalwart example of a videogame scientist. He’s one of only a few who fit that title—people who constantly experiment with videogames, testing their boundaries, remixing their components, taking curious lines of thought to their furthest iteration. Take his latest as an example. Called Indie Bungle 2: Breakout Indies, it imagines for us the games that a “shitty cloning company” (specializing in clones of games to turn a profit and not, say, sheep or humans) would make had it only the technology to produce variations of Atari’s 1976 arcade classic Breakout. This idea didn’t come out of nowhere.…

A Series of Gunshots

A Series of Gunshots calls out senseless gun violence in games

In the narrowest of senses, Pippin Barr’s A Series of Gunshots is a shoot ‘em up. All you do is fire a gun. The game has no other mechanics or activities. It is, however, the farthest thing possible from a traditional shoot ‘em up. A Series of Gunshots is composed of a series of gunshots. Who’d have thought it? The game consists of a series of black and white scenes. No humans can be seen. Do they even exist in this world? Press a key—any key other than spacebar. A gun goes off. The shot is heard. A window in…


Pippin Barr’s virtual art gallery contains no art, but lots of questions

When 3D spaces were popularized in videogames it led to a new kind of energy bubbling up through creative pores. Those who worked within the medium had a whole new avenue to explore—all this extra space, and what to do with it? No longer did illusions have be figured out, but actual working 3D spaces could be furnished and design bent around the new challenges they brought. Classic architecture such as Doom‘s haunting sci-fi corridors and Resident Evil‘s labyrinthine mansion were invented within this era, becoming archetypes for years to come. It’s typical of Pippin Barr, then, for his first…


Let’s Play: The Shining pays homage to the horror film’s most intense scenes

Fans of Stanley Kubrick’s cinematic adaptation of Stephen King’s horror-drama The Shining have obsessed over the finer details for years. You don’t have to search for long to find some of the wilder theories. There’s an hour-long documentary called “The Shining Code” about how people have decoded messages in the film. They believe that hidden in the mise-en-scene are signs that Kubrick is trying to tell the viewer that the original moon landing was faked. That’s only the start of it. So it stands to reason that a videogame adaptation of The Shining should at least attempt to honor the…


A videogame about being a parent is as stressful as it should be

If you’re a parent, or have been a parent, then Pippin Barr’s Jostle Parent will be a familiar experience. If you—like me—haven’t had kids of your own yet, then this will only put you off the idea completely. It’s what Barr rightly determines a more tragic riff on the concept behind Octodad: Dadliest Catch—”you’re a similarly limited person with similarly limited communication skills, but you still have to do this important job of protecting your family,” he writes. Here’s the set-up: you’re on your own, you have three kids to look after, and all you can do is jostle. Yes,…


This week’s Playlist pick: Sound System II

Sign up to receive each week’s Playlist e-mail here! Also check out our full, interactive Playlist section. SOUND SYSTEM II (BROWSER)  BY PIPPIN BARR  Music and videogames go together like peanut butter and jelly: the visceral experience of play magnified by an equally sensorial accompaniment. In Sound System II, Pippin Barr continues to explore the interconnected relationship between play and music, this time through a modified version of Atari’s Breakout. The player’s interactions with the ball and bricks cascade into a scintillating soundscape.The longer you can stay alive, the more room you give your funky tune to breath. Sound System II is the ultimate marriage between music and play, rendering your skill an instrument and the beat a personal metronome egging…


Gameplay becomes a musical instrument in Sound System II

What does a videogame sound like? That’s the question Pippin Barr has been trialing as of late. It might seem absurd at first—we know what games sound like, don’t we?—but he doesn’t refer to diegetic sounds or sound effects that go towards making a convincing world. What he is interested in is the idea of gameplay as an instrument. David “Proteus” Kanaga can be pointed to as the source of this concept, at least for Barr. Before even Proteus, Kanaga was scoring videogames in a way that gave each verb or action an auditory identity. His idea was that the…