Game Jam Winner Spotlight: Remembering Grußau

from the gaming-like-it's-1925 dept

So far, we’ve featured ~THE GREAT GATSBY~, The Great Gatsby Tabletop Roleplaying Game, Art Apart and There Are No Eyes Here in this series of posts about the winners of our public domain game jam, Gaming Like It’s 1925. Today, we’re taking a look at the winner of the Best Deep Cut category: Remembering Grußau by Max Fefer (HydroForge Games).

Of all the entries this year, this game was the one that had the biggest emotional impact on our judges, with words like “moving” and “powerful” popping up repeatedly in their comments. The best description of Remembering Grußau is perhaps to call it a guided reflection on a piece of artwork — specifically, the 1925 painting of the same name by the Jewish surrealist painter Felix Nussbaum — and its meaning within the greater context of history, and the artist’s life and eventual murder in the Holocaust. The game is simple, focused, and highly effective in prompting the player to meaningfully engage with the subject matter in a deeply personal way.

A big part of how it accomplishes this is by inventively bridging the gap between digital and physical engagement. The game itself is built in Twine with very basic interactive fiction mechanics, but the player’s most important action is taken offline: they are instructed to step away, write a letter to Nussbaum, fold it into an envelope, and keep it nearby for a day before returning to complete the game. When they do, they are asked to indicate the theme of the letter they wrote, and then given a response — but to see what that response is, you’ll have to experience it for yourself.

Remembering Grußau is somber and impactful, and it demonstrates that there are many different reasons that a growing public domain is important. We talk a lot about the radical, transformative ways new creators can make use of old material, but there’s also great value on using new media to examine and explore old works in their pure, original form, introducing them to new people and uncovering new meaning within them. By focusing so closely and intensely on a single 1925 painting that isn’t especially well known, and actively giving the player historical context and emotional prompts followed by a reflective task to complete, Remembering Grußau succeeds in doing this to an impressive degree, and is a worthy winner of the Best Deep Cut award.

Play Remembering Grußau in your browser on Itch, and check out the other jam entries too. Congratulations to Max Fefer/HydroForge Games for the win! We’ll be back next week with another game jam winner spotlight.

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