Dream logic is a distinct entity from the rational thinking we encounter in everyday life. For our most recent project, the prototyping team has begun exploring the prototypical dream experience in order to exploit this unique thinking for a dream-based game.
A brainstorm session revealed some key highlights about dream thinking:
- Concepts can be at once more clear and more obscure• Certain ideas can only be fully realized in dreams, like the structure of benzene ring represented to Kekulé as a snake eating its own tail. The metaphor of the snake is an obfuscation of an idea, yet is also a clearly defined message to the dreamer.- Commonplace actions become extraordinarily difficult, while extraordinary actions become trivial• Riding a horse may be intuitive to the dreamer, though they have never seen one in real life. Brushing one's teeth, however, may become impossible.- Space and time are easily obscured in dreams• This was compared to the forest maze found in many RPG's, or the cave maze in Monkey Island, where only one pattern will correspond to a feasible mapping of space
From here, we began to construct individuals who may generate interesting scapes for our dream logic to be applied. A stressed student might dream about a code that comes alive, where literal bugs crawl out of the screen. A shy child might dream about a forest of legs, where the only escape lies in tapping each knee with a lollipop to see through the thicket. A pizza delivery boy/ quarterback might dream of a row of angry houses, each one attempting to gobble him up. Only by throwing the toppings into the house's mouths can the boy hope to survive.
We settled initially on the idea of the supermarket clerk who dreads every day of work. Everyday tasks become impossible for the boy as he moves his way though the aisles. While restocking, the items move around behind his back. Customers speak gibberish and run into each other, scattering their items across the floor. Without a common language, he must decipher the commonalities between the items in the customer's bag and the items on the floor in order to return the items to the proper owners. But in the bags, he finds absurd objects-- 2-day old shrimp, tires, sticks, and turtles. The aisles all whine about their problems. One is lonely, another is on fire. How can he help them? The greeting cards begin to shout at him as he rushes down the aisles. Only if he puts them in order will they cease to chatter. Finally, outside, he believes he's reached an escape. Alas, the shopping carts gather and stare at him, as if a pack of ravenous crows. He must return inside in order to survive.
Stay tuned for part II, where I'll talk about the implementation of some of these ideas into early paper prototypes.