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Independent Games Summit: Adrift at the Threshold: Liminality in 'Paratopic'

Jessica Harvey (Designer, Arbitrary Metric)

Chris I. Brown (Sound Designer & Composer, Arbitrary Metric)

Pass Type: All Access Pass, Core+Summits Pass, Summits Pass, Independent Games Summit Pass - Get your pass now!

Topic: Independent Games

Format: Session

Vault Recording: TBD

Audience Level: All

Liminality: a threshold point suspended between what was and what will be.

The 2019 IGF award-winning Paratopic was a journey through a downtrodden American landscape applauded by press and audience for how it drew upon the relationship between progress and stillness to create an unsettling tone. With Paratopic, we explored the concept of these unsettling half-places, and we think we have brought back some valuable lessons.

Conventional gameplay design often focuses in on the goal-oriented moments of action and tight, satisfying loops. What happens in the space between those events? In this lecture, we discuss the value of emptiness, the applicability of liminality to other game formats in the medium and what we learned exploring this with Paratopic. The talk will be part exploration on the concept of liminality and part post mortem with a view to our goals, rationale and techniques in applying liminality writ large on our project.


Designers will gain an understanding of how reflective, and even unsettling moments hold great value, and provide crucial contrast and contextualization. Through technical and conceptual insights from our own game, other media and creative philosophy, attendees will be inspired to leverage necessary transitory spaces to benefit their project's experiential impact.

Intended Audience

Our lecture is aimed at those with an interest in developing immersive first person games, and who are passionate about leveraging space and mood to achieve their creative goals.
Designers, environment designers, and generalists, especially in experimental or emotional storytelling, will benefit.