Even before the possibility of fatal respiratory illnesses, I was never good with crowds. But I’ll make an exception for the vibrant sea of jittery bodies walking, buying, and strutting their way through this stunning hand-painted field.
We Dwell in Possibility is a free gardening sandbox from Robert Yang, a gay game developer best known for Hard Boys, a pixel-perfect reproduction of the classic viral film of British lads hitting each other with chairs. His most recent collaboration with cartoonist Eleanor Davis is a little gentler, but no less concerned in the politics of nude people. several nude festivalgoers.
We Dwell is a hands-off experience that presents an open field in front of you. Planting flowers by clicking and dragging, as a procession of naked strangers begins to stream in—slowly at first, then in floods. They’ll occasionally arrive with decorations that, once popped down, will alter their behavior. Stereos may make them dance, trees may give them hats, and huge cop hats will transform them into “Tories” that pursue people around.
Unwanted items can be removed simply by dragging them to the side of the screen. However, whether you like it or not, one of your guests will occasionally take something from you. Maintaining your perfect garden needs continual attention.
It’s a delight to watch these “peeps,” as Yang refers to them, interact and flow about the area in a way that reminds me of Michael Frei’s crowd sim Kids. However, in an accompanying explanation, Yang mentions how he attempted to imbue We Dwell with a more political slant.
“As the player, you must negotiate all of these decisions indirectly with the Peeps, who bring their own politics and ambitions into the garden as well,” Yang writes. “In this game, for example, there are cops. They’re decked out in adorable rainbow flags. Should there be cops in this garden? Liberal players may strive to ‘balance’ a police presence with ‘limited gayness,’ while queer players may completely remove all police, and Tory players may design a mock garden comprised only of police and high street shopping, etc.”
We Dwell in Possibility was produced as part of the Virtual Factory exhibit at the Manchester International Festival, which was preceded by a museum tour within Fortnite Creative by LaTurbo Avedon.