The Ambivalence of Obliquity in ‘The Left Right Game‘
I just finished listening to the podcast ‘The Left Right Game’ on Spotify. I gravitated to it semi-organically, as much as such things are possible nowadays, with so many measured clicks and algorithms tracing our desires and histories. It’s ostensibly a horror story . . . a ghost story, specifically, revolving around an urban legend about a game where you get in your car, follow certain rules, and soon . . . you arrive . . . elsewhere. But it’s also a story about following a story. In many ways, it resonates with a culture seemingly looking for something . . . to chase down.
A ghost story about entering an otherworldly realm via road trip may not have obvious cyberpunk genre footholds. But perhaps there is this idea packaged along with the story that what was once seen as spirit, as otherworldly, has gone from a realm that is both everywhere and nowhere, to something that has some kind of terminal access. Have we, through the very themes of cyberspace and the input in the back of the jacked-in user’s neck taking one elsewhere, cracked open the shell? Set fire to the veil? In any sense truly allowed ourselves able to venture into such realms through technology? In the dance of pixels and binary, now quantum, computation, is there anything left of play with our own soul? The birth of the personal computer had roots deep in counterculture. These visions eventually bringing humanity face to face with its potentialities. Has any of that survived? Or has the humanity’s indwelling spiritualism been usurped by something new? Something coming down the road?
If you want to know what I thought of it, watch the accompanying video, which I made spontaneously a day and a half after finishing the podcast, after considering my reaction and gathering some thoughts.
Examining The Podcast’s Origin and Criticism
After recording my initial reactions, I read more about the podcast and learned that the story was taken from a reddit thread on r/nosleep — where people post horror stories framed as if they are true, narrated as reporting. And so, there is more than a direct transcript available now, inasmuch as the script of the podcast was faithful, and more story to explore. The Left Right Game was produced by QCODE, some kind of “big money” name in the burgeoning podcasting game, which some have mixed feelings about.
One of the most powerful scenes involves someone who believes (perhaps they have been possessed by the belief?) that if they walk towards what to others seems to be their death, then they will finally arrive and be saved.
This depiction of faith and its inherent reasoning divorced from any cushion of cultural acceptance, is testimony.
Of what? That’s for you to decide.
The Left Right Game has been optioned by Amazon, who also optioned at least one other of QCODE’s productions, and some people feel that this is a precarious time for the podcast format. Many faithful listeners enjoy the format’s sincere and lovingly crafted shows, and they worry that, like so many things, attention and profiteers are posed to ruin it.
While I personally enjoyed this podcast, and I definitely recommend it, I must point out that some issues mentioned by the Bello Collective are true, although a little harsh.
Mostly, The Left Right Game has a very cool premise, and it delivers on most of its promise. The ending is a bit daring, and in my video, before I had read up on it, I defended the ending. One could choose to be snarky and look at the negatives, say “it’s not this or that,” but I think, having come to it with some naïveté and now digging deeper into the reddit thread, I think it is a story well told. It definitely made me think.