The game I have decided to play is Thirty Flights of Loving. For my close playing analysis, I chose to focus on the orange scene. Before this scene, the player is pushing Borges after he has been shot. The player does not know their main objective, but they assume that they are trying to get him out of the terminal and to medical attention. While you are pushing Borges around, you are suddenly transported to an apartment.
The apartment is sparsely furnished with two beds, a couple of chairs, and a fan. Anita is seen on a chair peeling oranges. She methodically throws the orange peels out the window. Anita is facing a balcony, which overlooks multiple apartment complexes with clothes hanging off of them. On the balcony one can also see a sign that says “Bienjensu” and “Club Bok Choy.” The sky is orange, which reminds the player of the orange peels that Anita is throwing outside. The bright orange sky redirects the player’s attention to the box of oranges at Anita’s feet. The police cameras, which are seen later in the game, appear here floating aimlessly. We can also see the hoard of cats off to our right that we will encounter later. At the bottom of Anita’s chair is a crate of oranges marked “Naranjas.” The player then picks up an orange, peels it, and eats it. The players throw their orange peels into the apartment, which remain there for the entirety of the scene.
The scene appears strange, considering the fact that you were dropped into it seemingly at random. However, this scene is important as it gives the player a look into their relationship with Anita. This orange scene is an intimate moment for the player and Anita. The intimacy lies in the fact that it is an everyday scene for a couple in which they are together, but not talking. For me, I think that this intimacy reveals Thirty Flights of Loving meaning; doing bad things like stealing or robbing in order to be with one’s significant other.
Some interesting objects that we see in this scene help us unravel a bit of the mystery in Thirty Flights of Loving. First, the box at Anita’s feet has the word “naranjas” on it. Naranjas is the Spanish word for orange. Knowing this helps the player set the environment for the game in a Spanish city or perhaps a multicultural city. Setting the context for the players assists them in their later play. Moreover, the word “Bienjensu” appears on a sign outside of the balcony. Although it looks like a made up word, it is in fact the name of the graphics simulator used in previous Brendon Chung games. This simulator unlocks doors and allows you access to usually restricted areas. These two interesting tidbits do not really help us understand the meaning of the game, but help us understand the game code or structure of the game.
Additionally, the oranges scene in Thirty Flights of Loving has no music. I believe that this was a conscious artistic decision by Brendon Chung, the game’s creator, to focus on the intimacy of the moment. Music in this scene would have seen out of place and would have detracted from the normalcy of the scene. Instead of music, the player hears ambient noise. These noises include car noise, bus brakes, and sirens. When the player peels the orange, they hear the crunch of the peel and the mouth smacking noises of eating it. This use of ambient noise is also helpful as it gives the player a sense of place after they were dramatically whisked into another scene. Furthermore, the use of ambient noise and lack of music helps the players focus on Anita and their relationship.
The action in this scene is very minimal. In fact, for the most part in Thirty Flights of Loving, the player does not have to make too many decisions. The game guides you to the next part and essentially forces you to press a key to continue. In the orange scene specifically, you decide to pick up an orange. You also decide to peel the orange and eat it. The only other decision made in this scene is how long you stay in the space before continuing to the next part. Unlike the other parts of the game where there is a stressor to keep you moving, like a busy crowd, this scene does not have one. This plays into the idea of tension and release. In the previous scene when you are pushing Borges, there is anxiety and stress. In contrast, this scene is almost cathartic and relaxing. It is only when you turn the corner at the end of the apartment that you experience a stressor, the ticking of a clock. I think that this was again a conscious design choice that Brendon Chung, the game’s creator, made to focus on the intimacy of the scene. Once more, this focus on the player and Anita’s relationship ties back to the meaning of doing wrong to achieve a happy ending with one’s partner in life.
Thirty Flights of Loving, STEAM, 2012.
Livingston, Christopher. “The Best PCs in PC Games.” Pcgamer, PC Gamer THE GLOBAL AUTHORITY ON PC GAMES, 8 May 2017, www.pcgamer.com/the-best-pcs-in-pc-games/.