No Sleep



No Sleep is a game about Insomnia, and the thoughts and feelings that run through your head when you can’t sleep. It is based on my own personal battle with Insomnia, and my own personal feelings. Each level and element in the game is based off of a thought I had while trying to fall asleep.

But before you give the game a try, I want to mention everyone that helped me with this game.

  • The music in this game is courtesy of sol.theory.
  • The basic art in the game is by a group of artists on OpenGameArt.
  • The bell sound effect in the game is from marcelofg55 on OpenGameArt.
  • The pictures used throughout the game are from some of my friends on face book. Thanks to Nicole, Ping-Pong, and the Tank.

Now onto the game itself. The game is very simple to play. You use the left and right keys to move around within the game. You can press the space bar to jump, and the up arrow to interact with objects and people.

The goal of the game is to play it.


*I would recommend playing first as some of the content is spoiled below*

Since the game is digital, there was no physical photos of the documentation. However, here are some of the notes that I gathered from watching people play.

  • In the shifted room (the room where all blocks are displaced from their physical body), player continuously tries to jump on the fake block.
  • The player keeps asking me if the shifted room is bugged. All I respond with is no.
  • Player tried to jump into pit and started to figure out shifted room.

From these notes I shifted a few of the blocks in the room to make it more likely for the player to accidentally fall onto the safe blocks after missing the real block.

  • In the suicide room (the room where you can only progress by falling), players keep trying to find a way out.
  • No one ever completed the waiting task and unlocked the achievement for it.

I thought about adding a secret escape from this room, but I felt it would detract from the meaning, so I let players keep killing themselves here. However through my own play testing I found that if you are fast enough you can use the door before you far fall enough down. I didn’t remove this because I felt it still fit with the depression theme (if you can get out before you sink deep into it, you are still safe).

  • Players really like the strobe room.
  • Every single player on their first try in the room turned the switch on and then off. No one left it on until their second time in the room. Not really sure what this tells me, but I found it interesting.

After gathering this data I tried a version where you couldn’t leave the room unless the strobe was still on. People figured it out pretty quick, but I removed this in the final version.

  • Player is having a lot of fun in the straight room (room where the floor disappears behind you). He is trying to get rid of as much floor as possible.

This was a really fun moment to watch as he really was very engaged with it, and seemed to instantly grasp how the room functioned.


Outside of the general documentation from play tests, I figured I would put some of the emotions/feelings that led to elements in the game.

  • The suicide room is (obviously) based on depression. The fact that you can wait it out in that room is based on the fact that life gets better (I didn’t want it to be all dark).
  • The different jems you unlock by completing different challenges are based on 4 different feelings, each linked to a colour. Green is life (or positivity), black is death (or negativity), blue is calm, and red is chaos. Each jems challenge to unlock it is linked to its colour.
  • All of the voice clips in the game are in Japanese, and read off by google translate. They are then distorted and pitch shifted way down. I did this to try and represent the nonsense thoughts and feelings that do have an origin, but you can’t seem to place them. Since  I know a little Japanese, I can sometimes make out a bit which helps reinforce it (at least for me).
  • The images used in the art gallery are all from my life, and represent passing memories, friends, and feelings throughout my life.

Artist Statement

This game was obviously very inspired by my insomnia, but that was far from the only influence. The largest influence outside of myself was the game LSD: Dream emulator. The game was based on the dreams of the designer and has a similar nonsense/confusing aesthetic to mine. I also was heavily inspired by the art style of the game and used a similar style myself.

Within our class I was most inspired by the Yes Men. They push their views because they believe their is a lack of understanding or complacency in the world. They try to make people understand things, that they would never understand on their own. That is what I tired to do with this game as well. Many people that I have talked to about my insomnia have responded with things like, “Oh yeah I pulled an all nighter, it was kinda cool.” I hate this remark, because people don’t understand how much not sleeping sucks. Especially when it’s all the time, not just a one off all nighter. While I’m not sure how well I portrayed that feeling through the game, it was still an outlet for some of my feelings on the topic, and it made me feel a lot better after making it.

Schrank Chart

I feel like No Sleep falls under the category of Radical Formal, or reflexive. It falls under this category as there are no (intended) underlying political motives. I wanted to play with the form of video games, and the concept of discontinuous mechanics through the lens of insomnia. There is no agenda trying to be pushed, just a love and exploration of the medium. If I was to place it on Schranks chart, I would place it  between Rom Check Fail and Cory Arcangel.


My project was to act as a doorman at an establishment that would not typically have a doorman. This concept came to me when my parents came up to Boston for Thanksgiving. They were staying in a fancy hotel, and regardless of the weather, there was a doorman standing outside. In my mind I couldn’t get over the strangeness of it. In my everyday life doormen are not a thing, and the formality of it was shocking to me.

For this assignment I stood in front of a CVS, in a full suit, for around 45 minutes holding the door open for everyone who came by, and greeting them kindly. I was unable to take pictures because I felt it would detract from the natural responses of people as they came by. I did however take notes in a small booklet. The quotes aren’t 100% accurate because I didn’t start writing until after the person had gone inside.

11:00 – I arrive and start standing in front of the CVS.

11:02 – The people working inside the CVS give me weird looks, but don’t come out to talk to me.

11:02 – First customer comes up, a man mid 30’s. He gives me an odd look, says “Thanks,” and shuffles inside.

11:05 – Man enters, ignores me.

11:14 – Man on phone walks in, gives me the stink eye.

11:16 – Women leaves the CVS, smiles at me and says “Have a nice day.”

11:22 – Older man, probably in his 70’s, comes up to me. Says I’m looking “dapper.” He asks me why I’m doing this, and I explain to him. He says it’s a wonderful idea. Asks me if I want anything from the store. I say sure. During this time 3 people left, and 2 went in.

11:31 – Man leaves, says “Thanks.”

11:33 – Women leaves, says “You too” when I say have a nice day.

11:37 – Nice older man comes out with a bag of chips. I thank him kindly, and he tells me to have a “Wonderful day.”

11:42 – Man enters, ignores me.

11:42 – Man leaves, looks at me and keeps walking.

11:46 – See cashiers talking about me again.

11:50 – Get bored and leave.


Artist statement.

I found this experience to be quite a dull one actually. I expected to get more interaction, and acknowledgment. Now that I think about it though I can’t remember really acknowledging the doorman either, at least not verbally with them. I was very happy with the interaction I had with the nice older gentleman. His conversation made the whole task worth it. He was so pleasant and warm, I wish I had asked him his name, I wouldn’t mind chatting with him again.

The inspiration for this project came from when my parents came to Boston for thanksgiving (as stated above), but I was also heavily inspired by Improv Everywhere’s No Pants Subway Ride. I was really interested in the contradictory formality. When you ride a subway in New York City (particularly during rush hour) you see lots of well dressed business men. I love the idea of having them juxtaposed with pants less people. My project was very similar in terms of the contradicting formality, only the roles were reversed.

If I was to do this Intervention again, I think I would degrade the location even further, say a gas station, and would also try to act more professional (not that I think I wasn’t professional enough, but I really want to accentuate the formality differences). I may also try it with an official doorman uniform.




In my intervention I plan to act as a doorman. I will stand by a door for X hours (haven’t really decided yet), and when someone comes by hold the door open for them. It’s a very simple concept, but I feel it will have an interesting impact in todays society (especially at places that never would have had a doorman). Many people just sneak in through doors, ignoring the people behind them, too engrossed in their phones and their own lives.

Another side of it that I would like to explore is the Social Justice/ Radical Feminist side of the situation. By this I mean the people who think holding open a door is a sign of the “disgusting patriarchy” we live in. (I am a feminist myself, but anyone who thinks holding a door open is sexist is just impolite. And if you do feel that way keep it to yourself don’t scream at someone because they tried to help you.). But I digress, I want to see if I get any outbursts if all I’m doing is opening the door, and not going in myself.

hseCs – Final Version

Materials: Chess Board, Chess Pieces

Optional: Paper and pencil to keep track of the movement sets.

Key: Basic Piece means a Pawn, Rook, Knight, or Bishop.

1. Set up the chess board as if you were going to play a standard game of Chess.
2. Black goes first.
3. Follow all the standard rules of chess unless stated otherwise.
4. If you are the first player to move a Basic Piece, then you can choose what Basic Piece rule set it follows. This holds true for both players.
5. Instead of moving a piece on your turn you way change the movement pattern of a Basic Piece to that of another Basic Piece.

NOTE: I realize now that my documentations looks like rambling. I should have used proper grid coordinates to talk about the moves.
1. Player A and B sit down. Both A and B understand Chess, but are not experts.
2. Player A opens by moving his Pawn as a Rook to the center of the board.
3. Player B captures the Pawn with his own Pawn.
4. Both players do this back and forth for a bit laughing at the novelty of it.
5. After several turns, B decides to move his Bishop as a Bishop to capture a pawn.
6. A moves a Pawn forward.
7. B says Pawns move like Knights.
8. A uses a Pawn to capture a Bishop.
9. B lowers his head in shame for not seeing the play.
10. B captures a Pawn with his Pawn.
11. A moves his Bishop to the halfway line.
12. B moves a Pawn in to range of capturing a Bishop.
13. A says Pawns move like Pawns.
14. B says Pawns move like Rooks.
15. A captures a Queen with his Pawn.
16. B realizes he is far worse at Chess then he thought.
17. A laughs and says it’s only because hseCs is so different.
18. B realizes he is in Check and says Knights move like Rooks and takes out the Pawn.
19. A takes out a Pawn with his Pawn.
20. B realizes he has had A in check since he made Pawns move like Rooks.
21. Both players realize they are idiots.
22. B wins.

Artist Statement
This was an idea I had kicking around in my brain for a while. Not this exact piece, but the core concept behind it. What I really wanted to do with this game was to create a version of a game that throws all preconceived notions on its head. A game in which a master could still find something shocking and novel. I eventually settled on Chess because it is a classical game. Everyone has played it at some point, and most understand how it works. This made it so that I didn’t have to teach the basic mechanics to players. I could strive solely for what I wanted.
During the first iteration of this game I had it so that all pieces could move like any piece. This lead to all pieces becoming Queens or Knights, and this was not the result I wanted. In my second iteration I decided to make it so that a Movement set could only be on one type of piece at a time. When I tested this, players were confused and had trouble keeping track. This was what lead me to compromise between the two and make the current rule set. While it might still need a bit of tweaking, for the most part I think it is quite engaging, and as can be seen in the documentation leads to quite some interesting games.
My biggest inspiration for this project was the concept of the fluxus movement. I liked the idea of constant change and uniqueness. Just like most of the fluxus pieces we looked at, each game of hseCs is novel. I was also inspired by Marcel Duchamp. Not by any of his pieces in particular (though I do love the idea of Portrait of Chess Players), but by his fascination with Chess. His fascination with the game was what made me think of it as a good base for my concept.


Materials: Chess Board, Chess Pieces

  1. Set up the chess board as if you were going to play a standard game of Chess.
  2. Black goes first.
  3. Follow all the standard rules of chess unless stated otherwise.
  4. If you are the first player to move a type of piece(Knight, Pawn, King, etc), then you get to choose what pieces rules it follows (Queen, Rook, Bishop, etc). These rules hold true for both players.
  5. Instead of moving a piece on your turn you way change the movement pattern of a piece.



  • Pick it up.
  • Play like a child.
  • Never grow old.


Artist Notes

So to start this off, I’ll explain why this score is so different (textually, not thematically). I went out on Sunday to go and preform my score, but I couldn’t find any snow that I wanted to touch. It was all sloshy and dirty and didn’t really fit the vision of my score. So I decided to rework my score.

The final iteration still captures the innocence of playing as a child. Growing up is scary, responsibility is hard, so never forget what it was like to be a child.

I kept the instructions intentionally vague as to what to use. I wanted everyone to have their own unique experience when preforming it since everyone’s childhood was different. I chose to play with coins, because they were something I played with a lot as a kid. I often had to travel into New York City with my Mom (she was a professor at City College) and the trains were always packed. She wouldn’t let me bring any big toys on the train because she was afraid I would lose them. So instead I had coins. The game in particular that I played with them was knocking them into each other and knocking them off of a table.

The last photo is me just balancing stuff. It’s something I loved to do as a kid (and still do).



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