In response to this weeks theme of ‘Discussions of Place’, I created a tiny game using the Mōsi game engine about exploring a forest that doesn’t want to be explored. The game can be played here
The game plays like a typical adventure game, requiring the player to navigate a labyrinthian forest, and find ways to overcome barriers that block their progress. Upon reaching the centre of the forest, the player discovers the Heart of the Woods, a gigantic tree that acts as the mouthpiece for the forest, which is sentient. The Heart of the Woods then admonishes the player for their actions, telling them that they don’t belong in the woods, that there’s nothing there for them, and that they need to leave. By subverting the typical climax of such a scenario (instead of discovering treasure or being rewarded for finding the centre of the woods), I’ve shown that the player is an intruder; and that the forest is a location that exists on its own terms, and doesn’t want to be trespassed upon like it has been.
Similar work about a sentient location that has its own desires / actions has been made by American author Shirley Jackson, in her novel ‘The Haunting of Hill House’. In the book, Hill House has an overwhelming presence, and a huge impact on the characters of the novel, who come as a group of strangers to live in the house for a month to conduct ‘scientific’ experiments. The House is able to exert its influence on the characters, making them see and hear things that aren’t there, and eventually is able to influence their behaviours and actions. This culminates in the character Nell driving her car into a tree on the grounds, rather than be forced by the others to leave Hill House. In the last moments before her death, the House withdraws its influence from Nell, leaving her wondering why she’s doing what she’s doing, showing that much of her actions has been due to this influence (and showing us that because of this Nell has been an unreliable narrator for the bulk of the novel).
By Eamonn Harte
Email Eamonn Harte
Published On: 24/03/2022