Working with von Rickenbach again, after the pair turned his aforementioned short into a playable game, Frei admits he’s hoping to bridge “the gap between art, film and video games” with his interactive work.
Sporting the filmmaker’s distinctive stark aesthetic, Kids presents a series of bizarre vignettes, all featuring a crowd of faceless characters, to interact with. From pushing these ambiguous figures into holes, to guiding them through strange pulsating tunnels, the message behind Frei’s game feels purposefully loose (reviewer descriptions range from “something about peer pressure” to “a small game about people who like to throw kids into holes”), with its co-creator admitting “some see it as something dark, some find it hilarious”.
When we spoke to Frei about Plug & Play, he expressed an interest in using the internet to make audience participation in his work less passive and it’s interesting to see him pushing further down this avenue with this latest project. By allowing his audience to control his on-screen inhabitants, Frei and von Rickenbach not only inject Kids with a strange ethereal feel, but give the player a god-like power which is oddly intoxicating.
Alongside the game, Frei has also created a short film and art installation version of Kids. The film has played a host of festivals worldwide – including Annecy, Berlin, Glas, Go Short and more. The installation premiered at the Museum of Digital Arts (MuDA) in Zürich, Switzerland in February 2018 and has since travelled around the world to Japan, Denmark and the UK.
Kids the game is available to download via App Store, Google Play, Steam and more.