I have a lot of nostalgia for certain aspects of the VHS tape. It's not the often-broken tracking or the ability for the thing to break, nor is it the infinitely long wait time for the thing to rewind that makes me yearn for past years.
Instead, it's something about the ability to record over a tape. It was this wonderfully tactile, strange experience where you could have something that you cherished wiped over with a misplaced finger. You could end up with two movies of tv shows hopelessly smashed together, spliced with one fragmented inside the other, or simply black and white fuzz overwriting the whole thing.
These qualities of the VHS are mysterious ( Lost Highway, anyone?), and this is exactly what Gainesville, FL based UFO Video has capitalized on. Their commercial suggests that they are some kind of game based on video tapes, but the specific mechanics are unclear. How does one transform VHS tapes in a room into a real experience.
The team behind it explains on their Facebook page:
"We get a lot of questions about what the UFO VIDEO game IS, exactly. We are working on a new website but haven't decided the best way to describe the game—it's not an escape room, but has most of the same elements. It's a real life memory adventure game? A simulation of that one Dr Who episode with the DVDs? It's an immersive game environment where the game pieces themselves are fragments of your own memories. Also movies."
Recent video games like Her Story and The Infectious Madness of Dr. Dekker, not to mention the VHS games and FMV games of the past, have been poking at this space for a while. It is incredibly refreshing, though, to see a design team figuring out how to take the materiality of a VHS tape and turn it into a physical game where you are piecing together fragments in the way that one would do so in a digital environment.
It's brilliant and weird and a little creepy.