Brandon Boyer

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Of all the games that came out of this year’s Nordic Game Jam — the inspiration for and held concurrently with the Global Game Jam — “4 Minutes and 33 Seconds of Uniqueness” seems to have captivated the indie set the most, a surprise, because while fantastically high concept, it’s probably the least traditionally game like.

4m33s comes from Crayon Physics creator Petri Purho (with the assistance of Kokoromi’s Heather Kelley and Jonatan ‘Cactus’ Söderström), and admittedly probably did the best job of interpreting the game jam’s theme, ‘As long as we have each other, we’ll never run out of problems.’

The premise is simple: all you have to do to win is run the game for that 4:33, represented by what is essentially a game-screen loading bar. The obstacle: if anyone else in the world tries to play at the same time, your game is instantly cut off and shut down.

At the get-go, it was almost impossible to tell a shutdown from any given crash, but Jonathan Basseri has created what might be the most essential mod for the least essential game with this Google Maps visualization of exactly who’s stolen your crown.

Seen above: my glorious 45 or seconds of uniqueness before some bastard Finn took it all away from me. The surprise? For a game that isn’t a game (is it actually an abstract ARG?), it is actually surprisingly compelling.

UPDATE: Commenter oboy puts me deeply, deeply, to shame with his observation below: “It sounds like it was created specifically as an existential examination of what exactly a game is. In 1952, John Cage composed 4’33”, a three-movement piece where no notes are played. Is it music? I think the same question is being asked here–the player is asked to do nothing for 4’33”. Is that a game? Well played. Well played indeed.”

Proof that this week has got the best of me: I couldn’t even see the Cage connection when the numbers were staring me straight in the face. Well played right back at you.

4 Minutes and 33 Seconds of Uniqueness: Current Leader [Jonathan Basseri, game home]

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