In the waning months of 2008, I learned that an upcoming patch to PixelJunk Eden would make significant changes to the game’s rules. While it wasn’t exactly a problem of biblical proportions, I did feel a sense of anxiety about how the changes would affect my little digital paradise. I was faced with the options of either forfeiting online features in perpetuity or racing through the gardens before the patch was deployed. Partly out of stubbornness and partly out of principle, I vowed to finish the game in its original form. With only days to spare, I managed to swing, grip, and jump my way to victory.
In addition to giving me an unexpectedly enjoyable meta game to play, the experience awakened me to increasingly common problems that arise when studying games. How do we analyze games that change over time and games that are re-made? Games are subject to ports, re-releases, updates, and patches. What kinds of artistic and interpretive issues are raised by this plasticity?