Sleep is Death: A Storytelling Game for Two Players

Every once in a while something comes along that catches my imagination so completely that it monopolizes my thoughts and time. Sleep is Death is one of those things. The name may be strange but if you give it a chance I promise you are in for a fascinating new way to experience collaborative storytelling.

Sleep is Death (SiD) is a new game from Jason Rorher. Jason creates video game art. His work is part of the current ground swell of independent game design that is pushing the envelope of what it means to call something a video game. While most people may think of Halo or Grand Theft Auto when you mention video games, Jason’s work is more delicate in nature and tends to have a subtle touch and open the door for player interpretation. I like to think of his work as the poetry of the video game industry. My particular favorites are Passage and Gravitation. Without saying too much as I don’t want to ruin the experience, Passage is a short 5 minute game that exemplifies how simple approaches to traditionally difficult themes can work. Gravitation is the only game I have played that has brought tears to my eyes.

Released today, Sleep is Death is a two player only game that creates an interactive storytelling environment with limitless opportunities. I have tried to explain the concept many times, re-written this paragraph many times, and have decided I am not capable of describing it effectively in words. Luckily Jason has posted a story (created in the game) that does a great job illustrating what this game is. To post it here I took the story and put it in a Google presentation; the original can be found here.

As you can see it is truly a two-player only game. It is something that needs to be experienced to completely understand the potential for learning. After the players have created the original work, the story can be uploaded to the community SiD story site for the world to experience. There are already a bunch of stories available (of varying quality) to show what people are doing with the game.

I am excited to use SiD to create experiential stories and learning environments. I will certainly be posting my experiences here as I gain more experience. If there are any K-12 teachers that want to create stories together, let me know. There is great potential here and I cant wait to see what people create.

Sleep is Death is available for purchase for $14 here and available for Mac, Linux, and Windows.

Extra Note: Leigh Alexander, from Kotaku, has a great article/interview on the game that you should certainly read if your interest is piqued.

Extra Note 2: Jason has also made a few screencasts to get people started with the game.

Jane McGonigal at TED: Can Gaming Save the World?

This has to be one of my favorite TedTalks in a while. Great points and new ideas. Dr. McGonigal is behind a number of the most notable alternate reality games and works as director of game research & development for the Institute for the Future. Her current project, EVOKE, embodies the theory behind her talk by engaging participants in a “10-week crash course in changing the world.”