Tuesday, October 9, 2007

A Mind Game

I started thinking about depictions of telepathy in other mediums and I quickly came to the conclusion that no one comes even close to Bester's work in The Demolished Man. The vast majority of depictions of telepathy are effectively just voice overs; just overheard lines of dialog.

There was one recent example of taking telepathy to a more visual form in the video game Psychonauts. The player is a child at a summer camp for psychics who has to unravel a plot to steal the brains of his fellow campers by wandering the inner landscapes of people's minds. Each level is built around a visual style that reflects its owner's thoughts and chalk drawings of aspects of their psyche clutter the landscape to be collected. It's not the first time that this technique has been used but it works really well in this game.

Here's a shot of the inside of a paranoid mind used in the game:

It's fractured, running in every direction. Small pieces look like a normal suburbia but there's sinister undertones behind it. Other minds may feature a wargame between two sides of a split personality or a rampaging giant monster. The art direction really brings the concept to life and every mind is distinctive.

The game was not popular but it has gained a bit of a cult following. You can still find copies around for your XBox or Playstation 2 and it's well worth playing.