Games about games are usually terrible. They’re usually a collection of memetic in-jokes and corny parodies designed to cover up the inadequacies of uninspired third-person shooters and platformers, existing more as quick gags to punch up trailers and marketing materials rather than real tributes to the medium of games. Martin Scorsese’s 2011 film Hugo was a tribute to movies, but it wasn’t a collection of jokes about cinematography and editing, or barely subtle references to characters of great movies past. It was about people. It was about the relationship between people who love movies and the people who make them. The wonder and joy in how Hugo portrayed that relationship reminded me of my passion for games, and made me wish there were a game that so artfully explored its own medium.
The Magic Circle is a game about the relationship between the people who love games and the people who make them. But where Hugo was joy and wonder, the Magic Circle is fear and paranoia. It’s about the love of a medium turned to dangerous possession. It’s about the digital identities we create out of our own insecurities. It’s about the void that the act of creation fills in us. It’s about the control that we have inside digital worlds and the vertigo of having that control taken away.