Humble's Personal Admission of Failure
Rod Humble, the developer of The Marriage, has said several times that he considers The Marriage "a failure". A failure in the sense that the intention with any piece of artwork is that it should not be explained at all and should be left wholly up to each person's individual interpretation. However, Humble says that because video games as art is a new concept, he felt that if he did not come out and explain the symbolism behind The Marriage, that there would be many accusations that there was never any meaning behind the game at all.
It can be downloaded for free at Rod's site: http://www.rodvik.com/rodgames/marriage.html
The Marriage follows the journey of a couple through married life. The blue square represents the male (masculine), and the pink represents the female (feminine). Over time, circles will enter and leave the playing area with different effects.
Made by former Sony Online Entertainment employee Rod Humble, The Marriage is a deceptively simple game about how the power in a marriage flows over a lifetime. The game has no sound, no music and requires no buttons pushed to play. Rod himself said that sound would only dilute the game by combining it with another separate form a of media. He wanted The Marriage to exist solely in the interactive game medium.
The Game Rules
- The game is controlled entirely with the cursor.
- There are two squares on screen: one pink, and one blue.
- Circles will randomly fall from the top of the screen and rise from the bottom
- If left alone, both squares will slowly fade away.
- If either of the squares completely fades away, the game ends.
- When you mouse over one of the squares, the blue square will reduce in size and the two squares will move towards each other.
- When you mouse over a circle, it will disappear and the pink square will become slightly smaller.
- When the blue square comes in contact with a circle (that is not black), it will decrease in transparency and significantly grow in size. The circle will disappear.
- When the edge of the blue square touches, or "kisses", the edge pink square (but not when the squares overlap), the pink square grows and become less transparent, while the blue square will become slightly more transparent but maintain the same size.
- If the pink square touches any circle (that is not black) the pink square slightly grows in size.
- If either the pink or blue square touches a black circle, the square will decrease significantly in size, although the blue square will still decrease in transparency.
- When the squares collide with things a white bar at the bottom grows taller, but becomes shorter when you mouse over circles.
What it all means
It symbolizes the developer's, or anyone's, marriage. The blue and pink square represent the masculine and feminine parts of a marriage respectively, and have different conditions that must be upheld in order to sustain the marriage. As far as the circles go, they represent influences from the outside world. Work, dreams and family are all good examples, although the player can interpret them in whatever way is right to them.
The size of the squares represents the amount of space each individual is taking in the relationship. That could be in the form of ego, or personality, or anything else. In the game it sometimes means that one square is so large, the other is trapped and unable to reach the circles, or "kiss" it's partner.
The transparency is a representation of how emotionally each individual is involved or fulfilled by the marriage. When either square goes totally transparent, they have become emotionally distant and the marriage is thereby over.
Your control is limited to making the squares move towards each other or removing circles (outside elements) by sacrificing the size of the pink square. This means that not onlydoes the mechanics of attraction and sacrifice communicate love but also the physical way the game is controlled, as the gentle strokes that the game is played with feels more natural and caring.
The color in the back also has a symbolic meaning to it. In the beginning it’s blue, symbolizing a masculine world. It could mean a club scene or perhaps exploration and exuberant experimentation. Over time the color becomes more of a mix of pink and blue, as the relationship becomes more equal and permanent. Then pink takes over, representing a feminine touch, perhaps a homemade together or a gentler relationship. Following is green (revival, life), where the marriage gives something back to the world, perhaps in the form of children or caring for a fellow man. Finally black fills the screen, representing the end of life, where nothing but each other remains. There is also a white stripe at the bottom, symbolizing memories that have been building up during the course of the marriage.
The last parts of the marriage are difficult to bear witness to, as each marriage is difficult to sustain, and can easily be broken. Of this, Rod wrote "The game mechanics are designed such that the game is fragile. Its easy to break. This is deliberate as marriages are fragile and they feel fragile, I wanted to get this across."
As the game ends, for each time the two squares have “kissed”, two small squares are created and drift off the playing area. When the last one leaves, the game ends.