• The introspective night driving of Glitchhikers
03.27.14

The introspective night driving of Glitchhikers

I've been there.

Driving along an empty stretch of road lined with purple pine trees, it's 2AM, the radio punches a muffled rehash of an old Portishead classic into the car. Foot hovering in place over the gas pedal, arms full-stretched and locked to the steering wheel as if melded to the metal chassis. Stare onwards into the darkness, ignoring all distractions, blinking to stay awake.

A dramatic suicide, or maybe just a desire for destruction. 

Glitchhikers is a simulation of this liminal journey. Your drive towards Sublime (sometimes Spirit Town)—a most excellent destination—sees you nonchalantly switching lanes, chasing the taillights of cars you'll never catch up with. The radio host discusses how scientists say the sky is beige and how you're made of millions of cells so are never truly alone. Between this he plays a song by David Lynch and another called "Turtles All The Way Down".

There are three hitchhikers that you pick up in a literal blink of an eye. They sit next to you, each one more alien than the last; they could be real, or more than likely, they're illusions conjured by your tired mind.

Talk of how whales swim ashore and die leads to me revealing to one hiker that I've thought about driving the car off the side of the road, tumbling into a river, or stacks of trees. A dramatic suicide, or maybe just a desire for destruction. We've all thought that, haven't we?

Another hiker discusses how Hindi can be traced back to the roots of civilization, yet another discusses the nature of a god, and how we could all be gods, at least to flowers, and how mighty mountains could be gods to us. The first hiker, a young woman, always smokes a joint and asks what the purpose of my driving is. Each prompt gives you between two to four choices to pick from.

"It's a spiritual thing," I say the first time.

On replay, I claim that I'm looking for something, which results in a new set of strangers with conversations that challenge my previous answers. Linking them all is my shared musing on life, the universe, and our place and purpose within it. There are no right or wrong answers. Just thoughts whirring like the constant spin of the tyres along the tarmac.

"Thanks for the lift," one hiker closes with, disappearing from the car as sudden as they arrived. Glitchhiker's guided introspection has taught me more about the universe and myself in 15 minutes than most other games manage across a number of hours.

Glitchhikers is currently in alpha, but you can sign up to be part of the beta on its website.