Something - Linus Lekander

An evocative piece about a character suffering from a cleanliness compulsion: hand washing, showering, etc. It’s a slice of OCD life; nobody grows or changes over the course of the minutes of in-game time this game covers. But it does go into some detail exploring the logistics of OCD management.

The game is written in the second person, and the player character’s gender isn’t specified, but apparently you just had a one-night stand with an NPC man; something about the way the game talks about washing your “nethers” gives me the impression that the author wanted me to infer that the PC is a woman.

At one point, when talking about the character’s mother, the game links off to a YouTube video of poet Hal Sirowitz performing “Chopped Off Arm.”

It’s an odd video. The poem is funny, in its way, and Sirowitz delivers it with a Steven Wright deadpan. “Mother” is the butt of the joke, giving outrageous and self-centered explanations for why “you” shouldn’t stick your arm out of a car window or swing an umbrella in the grocery store. (“Your father and I won’t be able to eat spaghetti any more, because the marinara sauce will remind us of you.”) The audience is in the mood to laugh, and they do, even at irrelevant points in the poem.

After watching that video and returning to the game, I felt like the game was trying to evoke some of the same feeling of that poem, or at least the feeling of poetry in the face of what the player character knows is an absurd/irrational attitude toward cleanliness.

But the more I think about Hal’s poem, the less funny it gets. If, on the one hand, your mother were really saying that sort of stuff on a regular basis, that’s not really funny; it’s sad. And if, more likely, she weren’t quite so ridiculous, then the whole poem is childishly misogynistic. Ha ha, moms, so stupid, amirite guys??

And the more I think about Something, the more I worry that it’s not really being empathetic to the player character. It’s odd, because the whole thing is told from the OCD PC’s perspective; the whole thing is about how “you” feel. But this is a character with a lot of unquestioned self-loathing; I’m not sure there’s anything redeeming about the character in the text.

The more I think about Something, the more I feel like I need to go take a shower, myself.

I have posted a short review here:

  • Jack