As usual, Corvus hits a lot of points that had struck me after playing The Marriage by Rod Humble.
I like the way that sounds, Title then Author. More games should do that, instead of American McGee's Re-tooled Gothed-up Children's Story X. Maybe we'll see Spore by Will Wright on a box cover.
But I digress. A lot.
So I present a bulleted list of minor judgments:
1. The Marriage does what it sets out to do.
2. It sucks. That is, it's no fun to "play." Maybe if this were 14,000 BC and you showed it to a local artist who just finished daubing charcoal on a cave wall it would be impressive and elicit grunts/clicks/howls/intonations of approval and worship.
3. Number 2 doesn't matter very much.
4. Who cares about Rod's wife? That doesn't matter, either. It's not called Interactive Metaphor For Rod Humble's Marriage.
5. On the other hand, I think that Mr. Humble's intent is very important to the piece:
"The game is my expression of how a marriage feels. The blue and pink squares represent the masculine and feminine of a marriage. They have differing rules which must be balanced to keep the marriage going.
"The circles represent outside elements entering the marriage. This can be anything. Work, family, ideas, each marriage is unique and the players response should be individual..
"The size of each square represents the amount of space that person is taking up within the marriage. So for example we often say that one person’s ego is dominating a marriage or perhaps a large personality. In the game this would be one square being so large that the other one simply is trapped within the space of it unable to get to circles and more importantly unable to 'kiss' edge to edge.
"The transparency of the squares represents how engaged that person is in the marriage. When one person fades out of the marriage and becomes emotionally distant then the marriage is over."
This seems straightforward enough.
6. Despite Mr. Humble's generalizations, the game isn't about The Marriage. But it can be about A Marriage. Maybe he should change the name.
7. Perhaps you had a different interpretation of the game; This is okay. Just don't pretend that it says anything about Mr. Humble. It sure as hell says a lot about you, though.
8. Without the context - which Mr. Humble was reluctant to provide - there's just not much there, but this hardly means it is a "failure." So much of art requires divorcing the content from the intent. Consider the paintings of Jackson Pollock - what makes his paintings matter is that he means them. Mr. Humble means it, too.
9. Elaborating on number 8, try giving the piece a different title - "Grief" or "Explorations of Parliamentary Procedure." Change the colors of the pieces. Make some go slower or faster. Does the metaphor remain unchanged?