Observing JBlow’s Witness: A Critique

RND/ To consider game designer Jonathan Blowhard’s “Witness”:

Part of the Hypertography One Exhibit

The result is the feeling of a game that’s depressingly lacking in energy, heart, and soul. There isn’t even any music. The island may be pretty to look at in screenshots, but in motion it is utterly lifeless. The developer’s sheer dedication to spartan puzzle solving means that the clouds don’t move, no animals scamper about in the bushes, and nor are there any ambient background sounds of wind, or insects. The island is dead silent, and lethargically still. It’s a sterile purgatory of placid, barricading puzzles [..] an unsavoury undertone of bitterness and mean spirited inaccessibility.
– Super Bunnyhop

The Witness: A Dismissal (Kinda)

In which The Witness appears a simplistic, trivial story told in an overly complex way as to appear deep and important. (Even the puzzles involving the environment itself seem pseudo-revelatory.) Blow as a man so insane, he doesn’t even know it’s possible to respect a player’s time, and is clearly pushing some kind of cultish hipster ideology. The whole game is awfully, painfully slow. Generally speaking, The Witness tells you to find inner peace by giving up whatever you’re searching for (say a way off that fucking Crazy Golf island) and simply accepting the idea that ‘Jonathan Blow is a genius’; a disgustingly privileged outlook that nobody should waste more than ten seconds thinking about. (Why is he even giving such a lecture if he always, already and genuinely believes it himself?) Fawning, ass munching ‘Ludonauts’ present the fact of the genius of The Witness as so deeply simple, their (and JBlow’s) voices lulling you into submission. It’s a whole load of nothing much. Jblow comes across as a self fanatical, pedagogic ructabunde. Fuck line puzzles.

The Witness Japanese Woodblock Prints

Example artist Statement via Robert What; Where vertical screen banners from The Witness official site were placed together and tweaked in Gimp.

– The banners were first arranged horizontally in rough order of brightness one each side before being resized
– Then their relative brightness was flattened out, some of the brighter light sources in each banner inverted
– ‘Film’, anti aliasing and chromatic aberration filters were then applied
– Finally a Wikipedia reference to Japanese Woodblock prints -‘moku hanga’ – as well as page about Polyptych paintings – were retro fitted to their design to suggest a possible imaginative or aesthetic context

Ideal / Idealized price for such concepts: £450k each – contact Robert What today for details.

Example Reference Link

  1. The New Inquiry: Taming The Inexplicable
  2. Wikipedia: Woodblock Printing in Japan
  3. Lulu Blue: The Witness is fucking stupid

// how to play big science