And you’re just in reach.
Hello, and welcome to our new series which picks out interesting things that we’d love someone to make a game about.
This isn’t a chance for us to pretend we’re game designers, more an opportunity to celebrate the range of subjects games can tackle and the sorts of things that seem filled with glorious gamey promise.
Check out our ‘Someone should make a game about’ archive for all our pieces so far.
On a train, that big window next to the double seat can become a cinema, and the film is always the same: clouds. Clouds! Huge, towering clumps, or frail, fretful twists and twills. The train is the only place I seem to notice clouds with any regularity. My phone photo folders are full of the things, always shaping the sky, always snapped from the window of a train.
We take them for granted. “If a glorious sunset of Altocumulus clouds were to spread across the heavens only once in a generation, it would surely be amongst the principal legends of our time,” writes Gavin Pretor-Pinney in the introduction to The Cloudspotter’s Guide. “Yet most people seem to barely notice the clouds.” They are wonderfully dramatic and Romantic – in the Beethoven sense of the word. But they are a constant. A constant drama! The clouds have the same problems that the Transformers movies have, I guess. One truck turning into a giant robot is pretty special. But when they’re doing it pretty much ceaselessly you get a bit numb to it all. You can tune out spectacle.
Pretor-Pinney is the founder of the Cloud Appreciation Society, and his book – which is wonderful – is a sustained argument in favour of really seeing something that so many of us have ceased to see. He talks about clouds with that unmistakable glow of fervour. And he breaks them down into their types. Altocumulus, of the glorious sunset fame, are those slightly threadbare sky-filling numbers, a sheet with the odd hole poked in it. Cumulus are the classics that turn up on nursery wallpaper.
God, there are so many kinds of cloud. The rare ones are as cherished as rare Pokmon. And get a load of the names: Undulatus, Lenticular, Cirrocumulus!
It’s not just this variety that makes clouds gamelike, I would argue. Not just the spotting possibilities, the checking-them-off possibilities, the sheer taxonomic richness of them. It’s that very thing that Pretor-Pinney is so wistful about. A game about clouds might work like a train window: it might make us see them again, appreciate them again, want to learn all about them, how they form, how they scatter, what they do up in the sky and what their appearance can mean for us down here underneath them. A game that gave us back the world above us, and allowed us to carry that out into the world again, somehow renewed.