This Is Not A Game



As the image above says, This is not a game. These are the words the 1998 exploration game LSD: The Dream Emulator proudly begins with, and I think there are no better words to describe such a product. Only released in Japan, LSD: The Dream Emulator is the type of game that transcends what a video game is supposed to be, becoming a form of interactive art, an experience.

I first played the Dream Emulator on a bootleg PlayStation 1 emulator when I was eight or nine, leaving me with a feeling I cannot describe in words. Weird, abstract, surreal, none of these words I feel can portray such a strange and unique form of art. This leads me into why I really wanted to write this post today.

Games are unique in being a truly interactive form of media allowing the player to imprint themselves upon the main character and experience the story from a first person point of view. A great example of this is Half-Life, one of the best video games ever created. However, other games lurch past this goal into the strange territory of interactive art, that are not aiming to be necessarily ‘fun’ but to leave you with a lasting experience like LSD: The Dream Emulator. Another game near and dear to my heart that hits this same definition is the DOOM wad My House.

My House begins with a touching story posted to the DOOM forums:

Excited to finally release this tribute map. Last August I lost a good childhood friend of mine and took it pretty hard. When I was visiting my hometown for his funeral, I connected with his parents who shared with me some of his old belongings. Among them was a copy of an old map of his backed up on a 3.5” floppy from high school. Thomas and I were into amateur Doom mapping in the early 00s but I had never seen this map of his prior to uncovering it on one of the old floppy discs. As a way of paying tribute to him and all the great memories we had together, I took the plunge and installed Doom Builder in order to polish up his map and add a few modern amenities just for convenience sake.

I haven’t touched an editor in over 15 years so it was quite a surprise to find out how easy mapping has become. I may have gotten a little carried away with these new UDMF features and, as such, the map is designed for GZDoom. From the text file:

  • Doom 2 – GZDoom, hardware renderer
  • 1 map: Not much of a challenge and roughly 10 minutes of play time. All difficulty settings implemented.
  • Jumping & crouching disabled, freelook is fine
  • Lots of Doomcute!

Making maps of your house was all the rage back-in-the-day, but I feel like this is a pretty adorable and detailed tribute to my friend and a great way to share something of him with a community we loved. Miss you, Tom.

A map created after the loss of a dear childhood friend, shared with an endearing photo:

A sweet story right? Wrong. Upon playing My House, you will quickly find that something is very wrong. I won’t spoil it for you here, but if you are interested in knowing more about LSD: The Dream Emulator (and others like it) and My House, I would highly recommend watching these two videos below:

Have fun going down the rabbit hole.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *