Brian Gibson Lead designer
How would you describe the experience of playing Thumper?
A lot of people have expectations for rhythm games, that they’ll get you into a groove and have this synaesthetic experience. I didn’t want this game to be typical. I wanted it to have an element of reaction time and unpredictability. I’ve seen feedback where people have said, ‘This isn’t music,’ or, ‘This isn’t a rhythm,’ and I don’t care. I want it to be a singular experience, not what people expected.
How is Thumper informed by your time playing music with Lightning Bolt?
It‘s a commentary on the experience of being a musician. And it’s a reaction to the Guitar Hero, Rock Band stuff. I think those are examples of an unsavoury way our society thinks about music and being a rock star, like it’s a path to gratifying your ego. Music should be something you use to lose your ego, to have an experience outside yourself. This idea of rock stars being on stage and the most important people in the world, it’s not what musicians were originally. It’s a weird perversion born out of capitalism. I feel like this game was against the way music has come to be thought of.
How is writing music for a game different from writing music for a live audience?
It’s fundamentally different. It’s like the difference between speaking to someone in person and writing them an email. In live music, you’re communicating with an audience in real time. When you’re doing music on a computer, you can almost be dishonest about your intentions. You can craft it. You can say something that you might never have said in person. It’s much more dangerous than playing live.