A recent game jam held in Melbourne, Australia saw four games created from scratch over eight hours, played for five, and deleted by midnight.
DELETE was a celebration of transience in games, something that Louis Roots, organiser and owner of the host venue Bar SK, believes is being lost as we improve our archival abilities. “Contemporary videogames are primarily distributed online, in a digital space where data can be copied ad infinitum,” he said via press release. “At the same time, games that took years to create can be lost forever in a single server wipe.”
The idea for DELETE came to Roots after he experimented with it at Games Are For Everyone in Edinburgh in 2015. He’d created a skull out of clay, and embedded metal washers in its teeth. He ran wires through the skull, and another into the bristles of a toothbrush, creating a rudimentary sensor that could identify when a tooth had been brushed. “As [event attendees] were brushing the teeth, it degraded the clay and the wire in the toothbrush kept getting pushed in. So people had to brush harder which would degrade it further,” Roots said to David Rayfield in an interview during the event.
After Games Are For Everyone, Roots went out to the parking lot and stomped on the skull, destroying it. He then went home and deleted the entire source code for the game, meaning that his skull tooth-brushing game was something that only the attendees of the event got to experience.
Four games were created during DELETE, designed around the titular theme. Some took it literally, such as the entry from Andy Smith and Matt Horton, which saw words falling into a pile and being violently deleted by multiple players connected via their phones.
Marigold Bartlett, Dom Willmott, and Barnaby RW made a music game controlled with clay statues of musicians, which were smashed with hammers and knives at midnight.
Harrison Smith made his dream Desert Golfing clone, Moon Golfing, which deleted itself upon sinking the last shot.
Shang Lun Lee made Body of Play, in which he was the controller, lying in a coffin-like box, blindfolded, with a funnel in his mouth and his bare feet and torso exposed. Players could tickle him, pinch him with clamps, pour melted candle wax on his skin, deprive him of oxygen, feed him food and drink, and more. Shang Lun recorded the effect of the interactions using a keyboard. Once sliders mapped to seven sensations had been filled, the game would be over, never to be played again.
DELETE was an event that celebrated the transience of experience, and produced some of the most unique gameplay experiences ever created. But only for the people in the room that night.