Congratulations to our Board Member Poonam Chowdhury who recently presented a paper titled “Gris and the Gray Dress: When Clothes Act as Traversal Tools” at the “Affecting Game Space: Theory and Practice” Conference hosted by the University of Edinburgh’s Game Worlds Cluster, Centre for Data, Culture and Society, on the 3rd of September, 2021. The conference took place online and had participation from all around the globe.
Gris is a celebrated award-winning game that deals with grief through its gameplay, art, and music. The colours of the levels deliberately echo the Kubler-Ross model’s five stages of grief: Gray/no colour (denial), Red (anger), Green (bargaining), Blue (depression), and Yellow (acceptance). In the short paper/presentation, I intend to explore the most important tool that helps the main character traverse through the game-world and her own inner world, that is, her dress. It’s a simple, unassuming, loose-fitted A-line gray coloured dress that covers most of her body. But this seemingly ordinary dress quickly catches the gamer’s eye when the protagonist starts moving. The creators of the dress and the game in general, seem to have taken inspiration from another outstandingly affective game, Journey. The dress seems to have a life of its own and has a certain slow harmonious fluidity, much like the rest of the game and the characters movements. The dress seems to be a part of the protagonist’s body and her self, and her moods are reflected by it. The dress’s real functions and forms get unlocked as we progress in the game. It is when the girl turns into a cuboidal heavy rock, soars through the air, dives in the deep waters, the dress comes to life and its function takes over its form. The dress in the game isn’t just a piece of clothing that the protagonist happens to wear. It’s the most important traversal tool in the game. It was good to (finally) see a female protagonist’s costume to be more than just a pretty looking thing. The dress is a brilliant example of useful practical fashion. Gris’s gray dress is the only thing in the game that remains constant, adapts to the young girl’s moods and needs, and helps her navigate through an ever-changing confusing topsy-turvy world.
Grief, traversal, practical fashion, navigation