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Compulsion Loops (13')

Nintendo™ GameCube Controller, Live Electronics

Premiered: February 2022 by Kyle Grimm; Free Center Hartford, Hartford, CT

Compulsion Loops interfaces with a medium that I personally love - video games. They are works of art, ways to connect with others, and an escape from reality, but there has been a growing trend of predatory practices used to create addictive gameplay, especially towards children, which can lead to social, financial, and health issues. A compulsion loop in a video game consists of three stages: anticipation, challenge, and reward. This “core gameplay” is not problematic by itself, but implementation of mechanics such as variable-rate drops, which introduce skewed probability for receiving highly coveted items, create an environment that is more akin to gambling than entertainment. This work is performed on a Nintendo GameCube™ controller to show the reality of many people’s lives, especially during the pandemic, when video games became a refuge from the challenges faced. It also features three sequencers that spout a barrage of square waves to pay homage to the history of video games and how far they have come.


A special thanks to the Connecticut Office of the Arts for awarding us an Artist's Respond grant. This concert made possible with the support of the Department of Economic and Community Development, Office of the Arts, which also receives support from the federal ARPA.

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