Bullet Hell


Bullet Hell (2012) is a side-scrolling platform game, designed for installation, in which the user controls the movement of a bullet. As with games like Canabalt and Robot Unicorn Attack, the object of the game is to prolong gameplay by avoiding collisions with the surrounding environment, and as gameplay progresses the game stage moves faster and faster until the user inevitably "fails" or "dies". The game is driven by a core loop that revolves around a central decision point: should the user intervene and move the bullet? If the bullet is not moved, it will strike its target and then the game will rewind to the beginning and automatically begin again. This means that, in a gallery setting, the game will loop indefinitely in the absence of user interaction, allowing spectators to approach the work as they would an animation or video installation. Thus, Bullet Hell explores the artistic potential of a popular game genre by removing its familiar feedback mechanisms - such as score, lives, music, and interface - and foregrounding its eternal recurrence and limited control-set within the context of a gallery-based exhibition.

Bullet Hell is currently on display at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, as part of the juried Games and Art exhibition at the eighth annual Games, Learning, and Society Conference. It has also been presented at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, and the Transcriptions Research Slam at the University of California, Santa Barbara.