Mandala (arrogant.gamer)


This is a text adventure game that deletes itself the more people play it. Eventually all the text will be gone and the game will be blank, with no choices left to be made.

In my mind the game is about the effect of tourism on the beautiful place of the world. Mandala is a curious, tiny world that begs to be explored… but the more people enjoy and explore it, the more damage they do. Authenticity, life, and utility slip away. What is left is a husk, filled with high-school children on field trips, and tourists flashing their cameras. [Author’s description]

[Play Online]


  1. I really like this idea.

  2. I guess I’m going to celebrate the concept of this game by not playing it. 🙄

  3. This is lovely. I was wondering how long it would take for someone to use Twine to riff on William Gibson’s “Agrippa.”

    • Wow. Just wow. On the bus on my way home from deciding to participate in LD48 I thought, “maybe I should make a game like that book my dad once told me about on a spring day. The one that disapears.”

      You totally nailed it! Also, that word!

  4. Wow, so much of it is already rubbed bare (as far as I can tell, spot-checking the html-source for zero-opacity passages).

    But I haven’t looked through the actual javascript source. Does each and every click etch that passage away some (If so, I’m guilty of so much damage!) or is it just keeping a counter of the number of overall players?

    (If the former, the earliest passages must be marked as more resilient? Or were the now-missing passages so clearly more tantalizing that they were necessarily the first to be clicked threadbare?)

  5. Bryce McQuern

    The real version of this wouldn’t erase anything; it would replace. “Authenticity” – whatever that’s supposed to be in the context of place – and life certainly don’t slip away because people visit a place, and use is usually replaced with or obsolesced by different use. I guess desertification is an exception? Like, if you measured use in terms of density. But I’m not so sure about that, and I don’t know if I should place more importance on use than non-use. This game is an example of beautiful soul syndrome.

    • I hear you, but I think you’re giving too much credence to the artist statement. This seems like a pretty strong example of a work outshining its creator’s stated intentions. (And I have a feeling its author might have described it differently…maybe more elliptically…had s/he more than a couple days to think such a statement through?) I might be with you on your judgment if the piece actually were about authenticity (though now I can imagine ways that could be handled with more elegance than your read of the artist statement suggests). But as-is it’s a fuzzy sort of allegory here, which is why it feels so rich. If anything, the game-mechanism itself just tells us it’s about Loss, right?

      • (Oh, shoot. An added irony that should have tempered my comment above: of course I played this an hour or two earlier. As time goes on, all that’s left will be the artist statement, so of course that’s a natural thing to latch onto. Hope I wasn’t too harsh there in my reply, Bryce.)

    • It’s true — in order to preserve the world’s beautiful places it’s usually necessary to attract visitors and charge an entry fee. There’s a delicate balance between conservation and tourism (ever visited Pompeii?).

      That could lead to some interesting variations on this idea.

    • I’m not nearly clever enough for this many layers of reflection. I just think the thought once or twice, but don’t usually think about thinking it, or think about that. Definitely beautiful soul syndrome.

      Goals that I didn’t attain during the jam include: ways of ‘healing’ the rooms; ways for players to leave a mark. I later thought it would be cool to have some things fade in while other fade out.

      Ultimately, though, I’m just happy to have done it. 😛

    • I think I’m ready to respond to this:

      Bryce’s comment is an example of how succesfully “authenticity” has been discredited as a philosophical object. Appreciable moments in time and culture do vanish, and are replaced by gradual appropriation. To claim that “the real version wouldn’t erase anything” is to claim that disneyfication is not a real and dangerous phenomenon. The desertification of culture is happening everyday, and Mandala was a game about the effect of tourism on the beautiful place of the world.


  6. Nothing there at all now. Just a wasteland of non-breaking space characters.

  7. Anyone happen to save the source early on?

  8. Nothing left here, so I guess I’ll just say that I like the idea of this at least : )