“Utopias: Navigating Without Coordinates” by AAA collective (Chloê Langford, Fedya Balashov, Gabriel Helfenstein, Jack Perkins, Jessica Palmer, Jira Duguid, Matias Brunacci, Merle Leufgen, Nick Morrison & Tristan Neu).
“[A] videogame network of nine worlds – each one a personal utopia developed by a member of AAA collective. Is a collective utopia possible? […] Free a bird[.] Use a telescope[.] Manipulate cloth[.] Party with an alien[.] Perform some rituals[.] Shoot bio-bullets to spawn life[.] Die[.]”
“Utopias: Navigating Without Coordinates”, in its most literal sense, is a collection of nine mini-dimensions by just as many authors. The shared goal of this collective was to realize their own individual versions of paradise, each none more imporant than the others, demolishing any sense of hierarchy. The structure reinforces what seems to be AAA’s vision: working together to boost, not compete, with each other.
Superficially, this game is ‘weird’, but what does that mean? On their website, AAA asserts this as an “acid game”, a widening of reality. Video games do not operate in the same dimension as us, so why wouldn’t we take advantage of worlds that are impossible in real life? Although many gamers accept the unreality of fantasy worlds and superhuman protagonists, they often require a grounded entry point into their universe. “Utopias: Navigating Without Coordinates” does not grant such a platform, asking the player to suspend any expecations of familiarity and dive headfirst into their visions. After all, wouldn’t we have to destroy and rewrite our current existence to arrive at a place of true happiness?
What each artist presents structurally are wildly disparate, from an abstract third-person walking sim to an anti-violence rail-shooter. Each experience, residing on different planets accessed from a warped hub, feels like a short dive into the mind of the artist. Though they are heterogenous, they share the commonality of transcending past our current reality into a more collective and natural lifestyle.
A couple sections of “Utopias: Navigating Without Coordinates” really illuminates the humanity behind this all. This is not a bunch of weirdo art students trying to make some nonsense, it’s a collective of thoughtful humans attempting to manifest their ideals into a virtual tangibility. There is no pretense here. AAA does their best to share their dreams with us, an impossible task in itself. Yet, it’s not a waste because searching for what can be certainly nudges us closer to making that actually happen.