The text adventure is a jarring experience for the average computer games enthusiast today. Spoiled by expectations of sophisticated graphics and sound, the player is denied any imagery of the imaginary spaces they must traverse, aided only by descriptions of various environments, dangers and items. In modern video game terms, this is the equivalent of wearing a blindfold.
VOID GAZE, a new multimedia text experience from computer artist and musician Jeremiah Johnson (aka Nullsleep) begins by reinforcing that figurative blindfold with another, literal blindfold — within the game world itself. In denying themselves sight, the player's imagined text simulacrum closes off the "endless plane" from which they began and opens a third eye to a series of pocket dimensions filled with surreal set pieces and unnerving apparitions.
The hazy contents of these border worlds occasionally materialize to the player as low-resolution GIF animations, shimmering and pulsing as if the light they emanate were part of an elaborate, fevered illusion. These mesmerizing renderings have become a common sight on Computers Club, a net art appreciation collective and online gallery space, of which Johnson is a member.
Whether it's from novelty or hardcore dedication, there's still something intimate and precious to be gleaned from the primal art of text adventuring (commented on at length in Jason Scott's documentary, GET LAMP). While it has yet to make as big a comeback as 90's internet aesthetic, the genre perhaps stands the potential to reemerge in corroboration with other media, as Johnson's work demonstrates.