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Eye Contact

by Thomas McMullan

Slice of life
2019

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Number of Reviews: 5
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Look at me, June 19, 2020
by Victor Gijsbers (The Netherlands)
Eye Contact is a short, experimental choice-based game that allows you to play through a single conversation. Most of the talking is done by your conversation partner, who is worked up about something her brother said to her. It turns out that he had the audacity to criticise the filo pastry for her samosas. You can be sympathetic, non-committal, or overtly critical about her (over)reaction. Depending on your choices, some backstory may be revealed Ė there has been a death in the family Ė and you may end up helping your friend move along, or not. All this takes a few minutes at most, so itís easy to replay a few times, and the writing is snappy and to the point. An enjoyable light snack; better executed than the samosas were.

Thereís one more crucial ingredient to the game: the eyes. A large picture of your friendís eyes is always at the top of the screen, looking at you (or away from you) with different expressions as the conversation moves in different ways. The game labels itself as Ďexperimentalí, and this is clearly the experiment: to see what impact these eyes have on our experience. Will they increase the emotional impact? Will they create a sense of intimacy? Certainly, they were very present. I was sitting behind my computer late at night, in my pyjamas, slumping in my chairÖ and I felt the urge to straighten up and make sure that my dressing gown was closed; then felt the urge to resist that urge, because Iím not going to be manipulated by a picture of two eyes; and then gave in to the urge anyway. So, yes, I think it did enhance to some extent the feeling of realness. Iím not sure what we gain from the experiment, since a longer game with the same lay-out would get old very quickly, I think. But I can imagine a game in which this only happens occasionally; a re-make of Spider and Web, for instance, in which the interrogator stares at you. That could work.

IFComp 2019 contained quite a number of very short games built around a single idea. Eye Contact didnít quite have the impact on me that The Surprise and Out had, but itís nevertheless a worthy addition to this category.