Games and Videos

Grey Polaroid pictures Photo: © Goethe-Institut Never before has a virus brought the world to a standstill yet at the same time caused rapid change. Inertia and movement, deceleration and productivity, remembering and forgetting, proximity and distance: Students from Chicago developed films and games on this theme — some of which were bustling with activity while others were rather quiet.

We’ve invited students from the Media Arts, Data, and Design Center at the University of Chicago (MADD) and the Film, Video, New Media, and Animation department (FVNMA) at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) to apply their skills to this topic in a creative and playful process, and then, enter their work in a competition. 47 films and 15 games were put forward for selection. Juries from the opposing team picked five winning projects twice each from the entries submitted.

Escape to the universe of games and films — welcome to the world of standstill. What are we waiting for? Let’s go! 

↓ Videos
↓ Games


A Couple of Minutes Is Enough for Me to Tell Your Story 

A home, a car, and a chat with mom. When the pandemic began, the author — who lived in the U.S. — mainly stayed in touch with her mother in China via telephone calls. While the pandemic kept them apart, they phoned each other regularly and talked about many things they had never discussed before. A new closeness arose from the distance, which was a particular source of inspiration for the author.

Qingqian Liu is an artist from China. She is interested in the quotidian aspects of life and their representation in visual mediums. 


From urban legends to eyewitness reports and hearsay — the façade of normality conceals more than the eye can see. “Mun[day]ne” is a lyrical visual study of the dark side of the West Lawn community area in Chicago, which is literally in a state of standstill. The director and producer becomes a silent observer of his own environment.

Rigo Gonzalez is an interdisciplinary artist born, raised, and based on the South Side of Chicago who primarily uses film, sound, and photography to magnify the unseen and the unheard. He is currently pursuing a BFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

New Year’s Eve

The Chinese New Year celebrations poke along quietly through 2020. A student from Wuhan feels abandoned by his home country and the place where he’s living during the pandemic. He receives three phone calls — after which he finds himself in a moral dilemma. New Year’s Eve is a snapshot of student life in the U.S. A film filled with alienation, unsettling emotions, and fear.

Bocheng Zhang, Mengze Shi, and Yuxuan Zhong are Chinese filmmakers from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. They work as a group under the name 1410 Production, which is dedicated to making low to no-budget independent films. By minimizing the cost deliberately, they play with the boundaries of art and explore a new form of filmmaking.


It’s Worth Asking the Dead Where and How they Want to Be Buried

An illusion, a jacket, and a coffin. The filmmaker has a dream in which he talks to his father about what kind of burial he would like. The outcome is “It’s Worth Asking the Dead Where and How they Want to Be Buried” — a visual experiment that combines this dialogue with camera and desktop screen footage taken during the first year of the pandemic.

Maurício Chades is a visual artist and filmmaker from Brazil. Decay, death rituals, speculative fiction, interspecies relationships, and tensions between the city and forest are some of the subjects that appear in his work.


Dialectics at a Standstill

A young man is brought to a standstill when his bike chain comes off, and he gets caught in a greasy loop performing the repair. The result is a vicious circle of narrative and performance, progress and standstill, reality and surrealism. 

Philipp Groth is a conceptual artist and film director. He works across multiple mediums with a focus on moving image, installation, and architectural intervention. He was born in Saarbrücken, graduated from the University of the Arts in London, and continued his studies in the MFA Film Department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.



Grey Polaroid pictures Photo: © Goethe-Institut → Play now!

Standstill in photographs — an idealized portrayal of the world. But images conceal a whole range of pivotal moments and events that can only be explored through the memories of those who experienced them. Memoria is an interactive fictional game in which players explore and identify the main character’s memories using photos. The relationships to key figures in the main character’s life are reconstructed as the player progresses through the story.

Jae Woong Lee (Timothy Lee) has always dreamed of being a writer. Throughout his childhood and adulthood, he has been fascinated by storytelling, particularly through film, TV, and video games. He hopes that the work he has contributed to the game “Memoria,” will continue to pave the way for more amazing future projects.
Pranav Pradeep is a senior at the University of Chicago, passionate about video games, movies, and comic books.
Spencer Frye is a computer science major at the University of Chicago with an interest in writing and game design.
Elle Thompson is a horror and science fiction writer, visual artist, and game developer. She has worked on STAGE Lab’s Quantum Games Lab, the short story “Swamp Witch,” and is currently writing and illustrating a graphic novel series.



Green trees on a light green background © Goethe-Institut → Play now!

Observing, waiting, and sunbathing — life as a tree? “Rooted” is a text-based narrative game in which the player takes on the identity of a tree. In the role of a stationary, non-interactive organism, players experience a new way of life rooted in a state of standstill in both time and space. The simple act of waiting gives rise to peace, immobility, and acceptance.

Hailey Qu is an aspiring new media artist who spends more time playing games than actually making them.
Caitlin Barlow is a Cinema and Media Studies undergraduate at the University of Chicago, a tree enthusiast, and a filmmaker.
Leo Alvarez is an independent filmmaker and screenwriter. His love for games led him to pursue game development and the creation of “Rooted.”
Matheu Boucher is a fourth-year student at the University of Chicago studying mathematics and English Language and Literature.


School’s Out

An animated cat figure - a teacher in an empty classroom stands  © Goethe-Institut → Play now!

A school is plunged into enduring motionlessness in the summer holidays. While life carries on, moments are preserved in the objects left behind. “School’s Out” is a short, dynamic point-and-click adventure in which the player assumes the role of a teacher. When tidying the classroom at the end of the first school year, the teacher comes face to face with the lives of the students through their abandoned property. 

Emily Cheng is a third-year student currently pursuing a joint degree in English and Media Arts and Design at the University of Chicago.
Counti McCutchen is a fourth-year student at the University of Chicago, majoring in creative writing. She specializes in concept art, comics, and character design.
Thomas Nielsen is a third-year student at the University of Chicago pursuing majors in computer science and creative writing.
Des Cardero is a fourth-year student at the University of Chicago, majoring in Russian and Eastern European Studies and minoring in music.


Time Is Solid Here

An animated colourful hallway © Goethe-Institut → Play now!

A long yellow hallway, three paintings, and a floating head that talks. If players follow its orders, they become involved in hidden stories about death, self-discovery, and living on. “Time Is Solid Here” is a surreal puzzle game full of secrets and mysteries.

Luke Knutson is a third-year student at the University of Chicago studying computer science and Mandarin Chinese. He is a longtime fan of designing games and is currently working on a serialized webcomic.
Heming Chen is a third-year student at the University of Chicago double majoring in computer science and Cinema and Media Studies. These days, you’ll find him dipping his toes into the world of computer graphics and 3D modeling or avidly admiring the moon.
Avery Kirschbaum is a third-year student majoring in psychology and music at the University of Chicago. He loves his dog Goose, impressionism in solo piano, and JRPGs.
Dylan Thompson is originally from Dallas but is studying at the University of Chicago. He loves competitive gaming and film.


Catch Up, Buttercup!

A sloth figure animated sleeping at a desk in the office © Goethe-Institut → Play now!

Working in an office is soul-destroying, especially if you are treading water in your career.  Buttercup is a sloth who is up for a promotion. However, on the day of the promotion, he falls asleep and wakes up five minutes before the planned meeting with his firm’s boss. Will he be fast enough to complete the tasks within the time limit? Buttercup is an interactive, text-based idle game about productivity and finding balance.

June Villers is an English and creative writing major at the University of Chicago. They’re a big fan of storytelling, games, and media.
Lilith Yu is an undergraduate student studying physics and Media Arts and Design at the University of Chicago.
Caitlin Lozada is a second-year in English Literature and Linguistics. She loves storytelling and video games and is so happy that she is able to share her group’s project with other people.