A Love Letter to Your Favorite Fake PS1 Game
Sophia Park and Penelope Evans’ ‘Arc Symphony’ is a faithful recreation of the most earnest RPG-loving community you ever made fanfic for.
All images courtesy of Sophia Park and Penelope Evans
Arc Symphony is a celebration of young love, in a way. The sort of love a young person might have for a game that offers them an exciting, high-fantasy escape from the pain and boredom of everyday life, and a fledgling internet community to celebrate that love with. To argue with, to befriend, and, of course, to make fanfiction with.
It's a desktop simulator, with an old green/black monitor and gnarly scanlines, where you click from email to email on a primitive message board, sniff around your fictional character's personal files, and even try to get IRC up and running for real time chats. The subject matter is Arc Symphony, a fictional PS1 RPG with memorable (and mostly lovable) trope-y characters, and oh boy, do your fellow forum friends (folks from all walks of life, united by early internet access) have strong opinions about them.
Sophia Park and Penelope Evans' creation is bursting with little touches that make it feel "real"—there are rivalries, threads about trolls, even .txt files and badly digitized pictures on your computer. There are subjects and snippets that speak to young people finding their identities: a personality quiz (with plenty of arguments about its worth), and even a bit of fledgling fan fiction about two lady characters getting together (with the requisite "wouldn't it be funny!")
That the "PS1" Arc Symphony is entirely beside the point in the game is perfect. This is a game about community, sharing, and growing up, with all the pain and joy associated with those tasks.