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Life, Love, and Death... in five minutes.

The below entry first appeared at

I think I understand. The screen is everything. It's your entire life. You can only see what's right in front of you. The future stretches out in a haze that dimly comes into focus as you move forward. The past also recedes back into a haze. It's everywhere you've been. Everything you've done, all sliding back into a blurry mess. But it's still on the screen. It's just squished beyond recognition.

So the screen is your entire life. And as you travel across it, you meet someone, a companion, who stays with you, for a really really long time. She's with you forever it seems, until you can't remember what it was like without her. You pass with her through many places. There are always new colors, new things to see. As you go, the two of you slowly change. It takes a long time, like watching a clock. She gets gray, and you lose your hair. But you both still keep walking, keeping perfect step with each other. You make all the wrong turns together, turn around, and find a way through. As you go, it creeps on you. You remember that there was a time before she was there. It is a dim flicker in your memory, but you realize she won't be there forever.

Eventually there is a long stretch of green. A nice time, it seems. Everything is lush, calling to mind rolling hills. After a long while you emerge from this landscape into a corridor of white. The whiteness is smooth, like tile. A hospital? Is this where you die? Is this where she dies?

You keep moving, because that's all you've ever done. You keep going, wondering when it will happen. Suddenly, in the white place, she goes. She's there one moment, gone the next. You leave her behind. You watch her recede into the blur behind you, into the mess of time. She's been with you for so long, and you feel paralyzed as you watch yourself forget her. She hovers above the horizon of your memory. And then there's nothing.

In that moment, you become old.

You are an old man, waiting for the end. Without her you can scarcely move. You wonder why you are even bothering. You creep, slowly, through the white place. Ahead of you there is no more haze, just white. There is nothing more to come. Behind you the blurry mess stretches, a soup containing your life, all unintelligible, all meaningless now. You can't even remember what's back there. You squint, trying to recognize a collection of pixels that you think may have once been something important to you, may have been something you achieved, may have been something you loved, may have been her. But you can't. You are alone, sandwiched between two ends of oblivion, unable to remember whatever happiness you had long ago. You realize, not suddenly, that she's been gone for a long time. Was she ever there? The normalcy of her absence is defeating. You are just waiting now.

Your end comes in the white halls. At the end, the game says its title: Passage. It took five minutes.

I wonder if I'll remember this game when I'm waiting in the white place at the end.



I remember playing Passage some time ago when I was looking into Games as Art. It was an interesting game, though I suppose I was spoiled because I read the artist's statement and players' comments before I even played the game.

Perhaps it's because I'm unattached at the moment, but I didn't find Passage as emotionally-engaging as another game that I encountered around the same time: The Marriage, by Rod Humble. Even though The Marriage was a lot more abstract than Passage, I found it far more engaging, meaningful and thought-provoking than Passage. Perhaps the abstraction actually helps - the difference lies in how the metaphors of life and marriage are expressed... one as a visual representation, the other as a series of game rules.

If I ever get to the white place at the end, I feel that I'll remember the game about the blue and pink squares more than the game about the blurry past and future.


I literally had no idea what Passage was about. I haven't read a single thing that explained what Passage was about before or since playing it, so my experience and interpretation of Passage was entirely my own.

Obviously I found Passage compelling, but a big part of it came from the realization of what the game was about, which was not at all obvious at the outset. The emotional impact of Passage was for me intertwined with the process of "solving the mystery" of what I was even playing. That moment of understanding was quite striking for me, and I can't speak to how knowing what the game was about beforehand would have affected my experience.

Also, as with anything emotional, personal world view has a lot to do with it. I'm an atheist, and I in general harbor a deep sense of melancholy regarding concepts of mortality and oblivion. So Passage spoke to my own personal sense of existential anxiety pretty directly.

I have yet to play The Marriage, which I've heard is also very good.

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