Burnt Matches is a hypertext fiction representing a nuclear waste storage facility of the sort discussed in the Deep Time design jam. The jam, held by the Speculative Play project in September 2016, focused on the documentary Into Eternity by Michael Madsen and its discussion of the Onkalo disposal facility in Finland.
Burnt Matches imagines a distant future in which the player, cast as an inhabitant of the land around this long-buried facility, discovers an entry and journeys through the rooms and passages of the building, seeking refuge or understanding as they go. The underlying idea of the game is to represent a speculative future in the form of spatial hypertext, creating architectures through both the meanings of words and their positioning and relationships in the space of a webpage. The game also leverages the key videogame value of “progress” to lure the player deeper into the facility, while specifically warning them that it is a dangerous place, playing with tensions between the human desire to explore and understand versus the very real possibility that a place we seek to explore might be fatal. In this way, players can actively experience a particular speculative future and think through these ideas about warning people about dangers they do not understand in relation to natural human drives and instincts to push past warnings to find a “truth” behind them.