A downloadable Blue One

This game is about the essence of togetherness, inspired by a dream I had whilst lounging in a field in the hills of Pennsylvania. It is very personal to me.


Never let anybody tell you that you can't make games.


This is not a real game; it's just five blank blue pages. Don't buy this game if you're looking for something with words in it, or rules.

StatusReleased
CategoryPhysical game
Rating
Rated 5.0 out of 5 stars
(5 total ratings)
AuthorEmily Dee Pennyway
Tagsreal-art

Comments

Log in with itch.io to leave a comment.

(+1)

blue

(+2)

I'm pretty sure it's gold and not blue.

(2 edits) (+4)

Nice game. Really speaks to the times.

My playthrough of The Blue One is below:

- - -

I started pondering this blue age as an accident. I stared at my screen, a proverbial window, facing an actual window as I stood at my desk. I was writing, hence easily distracted. I noticed the icons for different apps lined up in the dock, as Apple calls it. Scrolling left to right, there was the Finder’s square smiley face, a cubist rendering in two blues, the face split like Picasso’s Demoiselles, shrunk to a half-inch square. The App Store, iChat, Mail, and Safari veered close to Klein’s luminescent lapis. Microsoft Word was turquoise with shadows in the folds of the W, as if to trick me into believing it had dimensionality, and the few apps that were white or gray took on a blue cast from the LED screen. On the document I wrote in, the formatting was blue, the margins marked in blue. An hour later I started an email, and the recipients’ names came in two different blues: a pale one indicating the To line, while, as I typed the email address, Mail helpfully offered a list of names in navy to jog my memory. And online, links were blue. I returned to my writing but couldn’t escape the blues. I highlighted text to delete it and start my sentence over, and this, too, was the same aching blue of a winter’s sky in the Catskills, where I live.

I tried to work, told myself not to think of these hues, but the blues did something to me. I couldn’t shake them. It was the spring of my mother’s death, and distraction came easily. Research was the only thing that soothed me, as if getting lost in ideas was my salvation. My sister was sick and another friend was, too, both with cancers that had spread. It felt like my world was engulfed in waves of grief. Perhaps my blue was one of sadness, though I hate it when emotions are attached to the color, as if that might explain its grip. Blue held me in its sway through all the seasons from spring to summer to fall and the following spring again. Someone told me this ether of screens that could suck up attention was called the blue nowhere. I googled the phrase, and the string of search results turned up in blue. It’s the name of a thriller by Jeffery Deaver. I didn’t want to share his blues. Still, the shade I saw was foreboding, the gathering dark as the sky settled to night. In this vision, the clouds were black, and the mountains, too, at the horizon, but the sky was a deep, deep blue. Illuminated from behind, it was vivid and inky while the rest of the landscape had sunk into dusk.

Another artist, Derek Jarman, equated blue with death and loss—his own death and loss. In 1993 he made a film titled simply Blue. The movie is one uninterrupted royal blue shade for eighty minutes. He’d partially lost his vision to complications from AIDS and the vision he had left was tinged by the movie’s color: blue. In it Tibetan bells chime and voices speak; there’s ambient sound from a world he was losing: streets, cafés, doctors’ offices; the whir and click of an eye test as the machine measures his retina. The experience is intensely intimate as the screen is reduced to a single field of vision. “Blue transcends,” Jarman’s rich voice intones, “the solemn geography of human limits.” Blue. had been his final film, and I watched it on YouTube. It’d had more than 104,000 views, with 463 thumbs up and 11 down. I clicked a thumbs up, and it, too, was blue.

I was convinced something more lurked in the shades, something perhaps prophetic. Onscreen, they beckoned and also seemed to hope I might miss them entirely, which seemed to be the point of blue—to appear and disappear, as if it were the color of nothing and everything. The color might just be a bit of digital detritus or marketing. What was the difference, after all, between these virtual blues and the ones in the “real” world, where the color dominated corporate logos and those of Major League Baseball teams?

This blue, this sky, this screen-as-window, has a nearly universal reach thanks to computers. The colors, however, come largely from one small sliver of the world’s population, in one small sliver of the world on the West Coast of the United States. Those facts of place and people started to seem prophetic, too. Friendship is blue, and our language for images is watery. They come in streams, torrents, and floods. We have an image stream, video streams, and, on the iPhone, a photo stream. Even that dock, where the apps line up so they are easier to find, suggests that the programs are moored boats waiting to take out on the water. Meanwhile our data is in the sky, in the “cloud.” We have clouds and currents, streams, skies, and windows. And blue.

The internet dates to the late ’60s and the Cold War. Developed by an agency within the United States Department of Defense called the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the idea had been to link computers in case of war, but also to connect universities and knowledge and ideas. Knowledge, war, freedom, and information had been at the internet’s heart. Technology is never neutral. It always bears out the biases of its moment. This was why I wanted to examine blue, to slow down enough over something that might seem insignificant. The color would have been easy to ignore, yet it now literally underlines our maps and paths of the world with highlighting and links as the color extends our ideas, networks, and commerce. The internet is our new civic realm, and things there are invisible because we made them so. The internet has shaped our interactions, and here was a color that had become intrinsic to them.

- - -

FACEBOOK—HEX: #3B5998; RGB: 59, 89, 152

Dusty, dark, the skin of a ripe blueberry or my need for distraction. Its lowercase f sits off-center, the top curling, beckoning like a finger saying “come here.” I nearly left it on my birthday when the site exhorted my friends to “help Jennifer Kabat celebrate their birthday,” but I didn’t. Or couldn’t. Or wouldn’t.

Facebook’s thumb, sticking up in a shade of dusty indigo, nagged at me, as did the news about LED screens. They glowed blue dangerously. Meant to mimic daylight, LEDs steal sleep and interrupt circadian rhythms, stopping the production of melatonin, creating problems with memory and insomnia. Cancer is blamed on this blue light, and death and disease were inflecting my worries, though I didn’t blame blue for these hazards. Instead it was the values smuggled in with the color that disturbed me. British pollsters YouGov undertook a survey in 2015 and claimed blue is the world’s most popular color, picked nearly twice as often as the nearest competitor by respondents from Britain to Germany, Australia, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and beyond. Of course, the survey was online. The internet age, our blue era, is so short that it’s possible to see the history unfold before our eyes. Moments that seem far off happened only five years ago. Facebook is just a decade and a half old, so maybe it was also possible to untangle blue’s meaning before it congealed into accepted norms.

Yves Klein had made blue his quest, seeking something spiritual in the color. Achieving it had been a struggle since the Renaissance. The shade had required binders that diluted the intensity, and the color, ultramarine, was expensive. Lapis lazuli, from which it’s made, came from a remote region of Afghanistan. The pigment’s price had been as stable as an ounce of gold, and until a synthetic blue was created in the early nineteenth century only the richest patrons could afford it. Maybe what we were witnessing was the same migration that happened to other colors and pigments with trade across borders and markets. Ultramarine had moved west and north with the Crusades to Europe, and cochineal, a rich crimson made from crushed beetles in the Americas, became a valuable commodity in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. It had changed the tastes of Europe’s wealthy and eventually returned to the Americas in the red coats of the British army.

I remembered hearing a story on NPR about blue and global politics. Online, I found the segment and listened again as the Morning Edition host asked what the color blue meant to me. “Is it sad,” she said, “or soothing, trustworthy or cold?” The burr of her voice reverberated, and in her list were hints of how people perceived the color. Her sentence arced up at the end of her introduction to tell me that in Ethiopia blue was now the color of resistance. A reporter, a man, in Addis Ababa, explained it was the name for the opposition Blue Party, chosen because it was the color of freedom and Twitter and Facebook. Social media was still uncensored in the country. His comments were all the proof I needed that blue bore symbolic values which we were exporting.

A friend, a poet, asked what my issue was with blue. She pointed out that I was wearing a blue sweater, blue jeans, and a blue down jacket. I didn’t have a problem with the color per se, I said, but with what I thought it contained. British painter Chris Ofili has said, “Blue had a strength other than color strength.” I realized I was being driven by what he called “the blue devils.”

I listened to the NPR story over and over. The eager journalist was always bright and cheery as he reported on a woman’s blue pedicure and scarf and got around to blue being the color of social media. It took hearing the segment a half dozen times to realize the American reporter had been the only one suggesting it was the opposition party’s color because of social media. It was just him and me conflating color and cause. No one he interviewed did. The Blue Party spokesperson gave the reason as the Blue Nile and the Red Sea, which appeared turquoise.

Each time the NPR announcer asked if blue made me sad, her voice settled in my chest, and I thought of my father. He’d written to Adlai Stevenson in 1952, the day after Stevenson lost his first presidential bid. I found a blue carbon copy of the letter in my mother’s files. My dad was twenty-six and wrote that he was sad about Stevenson’s loss. He was scared of war and of returning to active duty. At the time he managed a tiny electric co-op in upstate New York, and he worried, too, that the state would privatize its big power projects in Niagara Falls and the Saint Lawrence River. He believed these resources belonged to the public. He believed in the public good, not privatizing infrastructure. This was the thing with blue—I was sure it was bound up with privatizing something that should be a public resource.

- - -

TWITTER—HEX: #55ACEE; RGB: 85, 172, 238

Bold azure, the endless sky on days of weight and ache.

I called Michael Bierut, the designer who created Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign logo, to ask about blue, and he sent me to Jessica Helfand for answers. Together, they cofounded Design Observer, a site dedicated to thinking broadly about design and culture. She teaches a class at Yale on the color blue. Yale’s color is blue, and she told me a story of the day Twitter launched. She’d been at a design conference where a Twitter spokesperson introduced this little bird, the bluebird of happiness. It was a jaunty aqua, and she thought the whole thing ridiculous. “Typing a hundred and forty–character messages?” She gave me a self-deprecating laugh.

Jessica also offered up a story of Paul Rand, as if by example. The legendary designer had created logos for IBM and ABC, and tried to turn American Express a teal nearly the color of Tiffany’s. “It wasn’t exactly Tiffany blue,” she related, “but this was before the digital age, so people couldn’t track down your hexadecimal code and say, ‘You stole my swatch.’ He was alluding to that very bright shade of robin’s-egg blue, and felt that he was psychologically importing the value proposition. It was the color of money. It said wealth, it said exclusive. He was borrowing the cumulative cultural legacy of that memory.” She also hinted that he’d stepped very close to the line between borrowing and maybe something more. Perhaps this was blue, borrowing a legacy and bordering on theft? Maybe all these logos were just built on the color’s previous uses and the myriad values we think blue has, from sadness to freedom and peace and money.

Amex now comes in two blues: one darker, a serious navy shade; the other lighter and closer to Tiffany’s. Skype and Twitter use a similar hue. Skype’s is in the shape of a cloud, Twitter’s the bird, and Jessica said, “Blue is the path of least resistance. These blue brands,” she told me, “aren’t worthy of your efforts. These visual decisions are just the result of external consensus-building.”

I could feel her telling me to give up my quest. She said I was a dog with a bone. A blue bone, I joked, or blue blood. The color might be easy to shrug off, but that’s why I wasn’t going to.

A friend at Apple, who couldn’t legally discuss with me the blues like Mail or Safari or even Finder that his company had created, sent me to another creative director, Aki Shelton, who used to work at the company. Connected by Skype’s cyan cloud, she told me about working for a design agency in Japan. One of her clients was a bank in Taiwan. “In Japan,” she said, “blue never had negative connotations, but for the bank I was making a logo mark, and it was blue, a sky blue they called ‘dead man’s face blue’ as if it were the color of death.” She explained that in China and Taiwan people take the fact that red and gold represent good luck very seriously.

She had been thinking, however, of a different meaning for the color. “In the U.S. and UK, it’s trustworthy and friendly, safe and modern—all these make it popular. Health-care companies and health insurance providers are blue.”

She leaned toward her screen and toward me and said another thing about blue: “It recedes.” This was why paintings used blue to convey distance. With atmospheric perspective, contrast decreased and everything blended into the background color—blue, most often.

“When looking at Facebook,” she said, “that blue basically disappears. Facebook is about users’ content and photos. They should stand out so the color should step back, and social media uses blue for that reason.”

The color disappears. Blue is the color you don’t see, the color of neutrality but also safety and trust. Perhaps because blue is so ubiquitous, it can represent all of them or nothing, just neutral space. Perhaps blue can represent those values because it’s so common it’s invisible. At the same time, I think its familiarity renders it trustworthy and reassuring. We see the color so often, it doesn’t jar us. Blue is comfortable.

Just before I got off my Skype call with Aki she mentioned that she’d recently created a blue identity—it was a dusty indigo and she used it for the Public Internet Registry. It’s the nonprofit responsible for all .org and .ngo domain names, most often associated with nonprofits. Their shade? “Blue,” she said, “for trust.”

- - -

SKYPE—HEX: #00AFF0; RGB: 0, 175, 240

A cyan daydream, hidden in a cloud and promising conversations with anyone anywhere, as if talk were cheap.

Anytime anyone told me blue was the color of something—of, say, trust or peace or calm—I got suspicious. I’d wanted to tell the NPR host that, yes, I was sad, but it had nothing to do with color. Color as feelings seemed too facile, like the results from an online psych quiz:

I am a:
○ Male ○ Female

My future seems hopeless:
○ Not at all
○ Just a little
○ Somewhat
○ Moderately
○ Quite a lot
○ Very much

A creative director from ABC News who had also been in charge of its digital platform told me blue was “authority.” It was why news outlets used it. She also mentioned that red couldn’t be used well on screens until recently. You couldn’t reproduce it without “bleeding.” It had been too hard to control until the new retinal displays were developed. “Social networks have built on the legacy of blue, on the trust from news organizations,” she explained.

Like Rand, they had been borrowing—or stealing—associations. So red was tricky; blue was trust and authority. And credit cards and commerce, news outlets and technology, are all using a color to represent these ideals. There’s something unnerving about the way the notion of trust (and specifically what news organizations and tech companies and financial institutions consider trust) is derived from simple consensus-building that can be summed up in a color. The feedback loop reinforces blue’s ubiquity, so we see it more and more, become more and more accustomed to it, and that repetition translates into trust. We don’t have to work to understand blue.

View rest ↓

(1 edit) (+3)

I don't give out 1* reviews very often, but this game is atrocious enough to deserve one. Here's my review, reproduced in full:

1.1: ON CHROMA

First, dear reader, please consider the colour blue: a terrible, overused, and stultifying colour that would have been much better replaced by a sharp yellow...

View rest ↓

(+1)

I’m looking forward to the inevitable game jam that this spawns 😂

(+2)

There's a lot of talk about how blue this game is, but I think that might be missing the point. The real secret is that this game is perfectly timed to the music video for Eiffel 65's hit song Blue. Don't believe me? download the pdf, then hit play on this video and read along. Crazy right? Some serious, next level, Pink Floyd stuff going on here.

(+3)

Needs more shades of blue. Can’t wait for the sequel game

The sequel is going to be even better, I can’t wait either 

(+3)

I think the controversial question that isn't being asked is "Is this Blue enough?".

(+1)

I was struck just the other day by how many of my games just... they weren't blue enough. Seriously, i flip from page to page, maybe a lil blue... sometimes? but just not enough.

The Blue Game is exactly what I needed, it revolutionized my gaming experience.

Thank you, Dee.

(+1)

I'm glad I could be part of this journey for you.

(+3)

This game is blue. No it's very blue. It is exceedingly blue in a way that not may other games are blue.

You have captured the essence of what this game is supposed to be, not many people understand this game so well.