Ludum Dare 41: Definition of a Ghuest

“Definition of a Ghuest” by Sand Gardeners (Sam Machell & Colin Le Duc).

“[A] game about a film about an art piece about a hotel. […] What is gained and what is lost when two incompatible mediums collide?”

Hotels are interesting places, something in-between. Not quite a home, but more than a shelter. A building with dozens of identical rooms, which always get reset to their default state, after they have been used. A hotel room is nearly always a room without a remarkable past, because they get cleaned and re-arranged. Hundreds of strangers stayed in them before your arrival, and another hundred will follow after you. All of you will have a very similar experience in them. What a weird thought. But what exactly is your role as a hotel guest in relation to this rooms? You become a ghuest. Ghuest is a portmanteau word, created as a combination of ‘ghost’ and ‘guest’. “What distinguishes a ghuest from a ghost or a guest?”, you might ask – and the developers of “Definition of a Ghuest” provide the answer in an extra file on the game page as well as in a blog entry:

Blog definition of "Ghuest"

This definition alone raised up many questions and thoughts in me. I find the term overly fascinating and fitting, I tried to recall my few hotel experiences and I must admit, that this definition feels pretty accurate to me.

“But wait… So you are recommending a jam game just because of a clever term?”, you might ask now. No, of course not. It’s because of the intriguing medial ‘double structure’ of it. In “Definition of a Ghuest” you will be put in two roles at the same time: On the one side, you are part of the audience of a shown movie and need to talk with your partner about it, on the other side you are the ‘protagonist’ of the same movie, which tells the story about being a ghuest in a hotel, one night at a time. You’ll be confronted with several decisions, that might alter your stay a bit. Want to eat in the restaurant or do you want to call the hotel service? Do you want a wake-up call or not? Do you want to brush your teeth or do you prefer another drink from the mini bar? It’s up to you.

In the middle of the time, the movie seems to loop. The old ghuest left the room, but a new one just comes in. Again you will be asked what you want to do and then you have to make the decisions. Regardless if you will run after your old route or if you choose other paths, you will feel an unplesant sense of unity, like you step into the traces of an entity, which is somehow present, but somehow not. This effect doubles thanks to the conversation of the audience, because it works like a mirror for your own thoughts.

In a sense, “Definition of a Ghuest” isn’t doing story-telling in the traditional meaning, but maybe something more like term-telling? Instead of just handing you a 2000 words long essay, the game developers came up with a new idea, term or concept, and let you face it in a virtual environment. You will get it when you try it out. >>PLAY