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Interactive video lesson plan for: Understanding the Witness - Mechanical Transference and You - Extra Credits

Activity overview:

Tucked away in a secret theater inside the Witness is a film clip from the indie movie Nostalghia, where we watch a man agonizingly - and for no rational reason - try to carry a flickering candle flame across a watery courtyard. This little clip brilliantly captures the feeling of playing The Witness and presents a metaphor for the player's struggle to solve its difficult puzzles. (---More below)

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In the theater beneath the windmill, Jonathan Blow hides a clip from an indie film called Nostalghia. It's directed by Andrei Tarkovsky, the same man who directed the Stalker movie that birthed its own series of games. In the clip, we watch a man agonizingly make his way across a watery courtyard, carrying a flame that keeps blowing out in the wind. He tries, he fails, he thinks about cheating - he goes back to the beginning and starts all over again. The film is a perfect metaphor for the player's experience, trying again and again at a task that seems meaningless to any outside observer yet remaining fanatically dedicated to carrying it out the right way. In the film, the main character's been instructed by a mad man that carrying this candle will save the world, and what begins as a casual agreement for him becomes an obsession that he shares. In the same way, the Witness may begin as a simple challenge for players, but soon draws them in to a world of patterns and puzzles that they can't help but see everywhere in the real world, in the objects that surround them in day-to-day life. The end of the Witness shows us a live action film clip of a person (perhaps Jon Blow) stumbling through the game development studio, finding these patterns in everything he sees, and showing us how our exploration of the game and immersion into its puzzles mirrors the inescapable obsession of the developer, who after years of crafting over 600 of these puzzles, can't help but see them everywhere and who has now passed that obsession along to us through the very game that created it.

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Tagged under: witness,secret,truth, witness,mystery,discovery,game,gameplay,playthrough,puzzle,extra credits,james portnow,daniel floyd,game development,game design,theather,film,Nostalghia,Nostalgia,metaphor,clip,indie,independent,Jon Blow,Jonathan Blow,Jonathon Blow,Tarkovsky,Stalker,Andrei Tarkovsky,spoiler,analysis,discussion,meaning,intent,authorial,interpretation,insight,windmill

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