Artist + Designer Carl Burton’s Lynchian, Text-Based Game, “The Conference”

Choose a path through this surreal web-based world

Many are likely to recall an experience of trudging through the bowels of a hotel for a conference as jet lag begins to take its toll on reality, reaction time and judgment. The Conference, explained by its maker—acclaimed artist and game designer Carl Burton—as “a performance in a hotel at night,” dips deeper into this experience. Burton’s free, text-based game (which can be played in five to 10 minutes) transforms this eerie, shared otherness into tingles, and through dreams within dreams, nocturnal performances and poetry he produces a David Lynch-like choose-your-own adventure.

“The Conference was inspired by my stays in the interchangeable, mid-level hotels you find across America. I wanted to use the sensibility of those memories as a place to stage a new work,” Burton, who has illustrated for the Serial podcast and The New York Times, shares with us. “My last game, Islands Non-Places, was about the odd sensibility that transitional places like malls and airports can have. Setting something in a hotel was a way to explore that further.”

Burton found substantial creative freedom in the text-based format. In The Conference, he shares just enough to help players imagine their surroundings and keep them transfixed to the point that they must continue to click.

Image courtesy of Carl Burton