A Museum of Self & Space Asks About Identity and Retrospection

What is the measure of a person's life through their lamentations?

A Museum of Self & Space Asks About Identity and Retrospection
Source: Press Kit.

When I was looking through my Steam list to see what queer games I hadn't yet covered or played for Pride Month, this one popped out at me. The title and description intrigued me, and I was looking for indie games that hadn't received a lot of love. Now it's a year later, and I have played about an hour through this interactive museum.

I love museums. As a kid, I'd go to a science museum summer camp and would try out all the different activities. As an adult, I like visiting art galleries and museums to study different paintings and sometimes meditate in front of particular pieces. Naturally, I was going to try out A Museum of Self & Space for all these reasons.

This game reminded me of a date I went on. In fact, it was the most recent date I had. We went to a museum that skewed perspective with mirrors, covered us in foam, and made it rain in holograms. There was melancholy and optimism to the exhibits, because part of me knew this wasn't going to last. Yet, I enjoyed myself during the moment. That's the same perspective I had for A Museum of Self & Space, to enjoy the moment and think about it later.

One Admission Please

Source: Steam.

Jules Morris is a nonbinary architect. They were not the best in their field or particularly unique, but they were well-known enough to fund a museum all about their life. Two stories of exhibits - I was able to explore those two before the game glitched – reveal moments of Jules's life that they regret. A lonely childhood on the ground floor, an empty house in their forties, and locker room horror stories as well as failed romantic and career aspirations in between.

The game reminded me of social media posts I had seen. Someone asked if there are stories with toxic queer characters. Not every person who identifies as queer can be a role model. They must have been the generation that never saw Rent or the Rocky Horror Picture Show, but then not every person is going to enjoy musical theater.

We see toxicity front and center, as well as queerness. Jules is not a hero. They admit freely that they sabotaged their own chances of becoming a well-known architect with constant drunkenness and workaholic tendencies. In fact, the museum seems like the reflection of a narcissist who was too afraid to take the leap and trust that someone they loved would return. You can see their toxicity as they beg for romantic partners not to leave them, and constantly get into fights about silly things.

Yet, these exhibits humanize Jules. They let fear from high school students and bullies govern their whole life, long after they've received the diploma and architectural degree. When they have a chance to choose something different, they fall into familiar cycles and habits. I related to the moments of anxiety and being unable to sleep. As a result, we may judge, but we also understand them.

Life Is A Glitch

Source: Steam.

I admit I wasn't able to finish the game in my first go. Why? Because it glitched on me. I made it to the second story of the museum, when there were no more stairs. The only way to go was down, but I wasn't sure if I should redo the first floor.

Redoing an exhibit, which involved taking photographs, caused the game to freeze. I wasn't sure if I had finished, since I had seen all the available exhibits. As a result, I quit, and that erased all the progress I had made. Why? Because there were no save points. If the creator Jack Hart does make any updates, I recommend that they provide an easy means of returning to the main menu, or save points so that I can see if I finish.

Nevertheless, I've been thinking about A Museum of Self & Space long after I shut down the gaming laptop. Do our negative and positive experiences exclusively define us? How much control do we have over our futures? And is happiness always possible, even if it seems impossible in our limited worldviews?

Kudos to a game that brought up these questions. It is a perfect way to round out Pride Month, as the end of June comes closer.


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