I’m Null: The Character You Aren’t

 

“Define yourself [Integers Only]” the game says, white text displayed on a black screen. This is how I’m Null begins, and already the significance of the title is emphasized. Uploaded to Game Jolt in November of 2014, designed by Zak Ayles and coded by Devin Horsman, this browser-based Unity game is an open world, which contains many bizarre objects and scenes, often accompanied by unsettling music composed by Robin Arnott. This game is also multiplayer, although communicating with other players is reserved for the “main character”. 

 

This game borders on what some may consider to be a game. In I’m Null, you are randomly placed in some area of a looping world, and from there you are able to explore at your leisure. You are given no goals, there is almost no dialogue. You are unable to interact with anything in the world–in fact, you can walk through most of the objects created as wire-frame. There’s no map (although some people have attempted to create one), so becoming lost is part of the experience. So why is this game so interesting?

Perhaps it’s the fact that the main character of this game is not you; it’s Null.

I'mNullFeature

As stated before, you begin the game by “defining yourself” with an integer. By prescribing yourself a number, you are saying that you are not Null. Though it is possible to choose “0” as your integer, most players are likely to choose a substantial number. This means that you are not the titular character in this game.

The main character, named Null, does exist, although their presence is rare. Like other players in the game, Null can be seen roaming around the map as a line with the word “Null” over their head. However, unlike other players, Null is also able to appear as a shopping cart, a female torso, a face, and possibly a variety of other figures, all of which Null seems to prefer. This could be a way of making a distinction between Null and the players, in order to show either dominance or isolation. Likewise, the ability to change appearance on command can be a tactic for deterring or avoiding characters. The draw distance is shorter on characters’ names, so Null would be able to hide among the different objects.

Null appearing as a shopping cart

Null appearing as a shopping cart

However, it seems as though Null’s main objective is not to hide, but to attack. Null is shown to be antagonistic against other players, attacking them with a great amount of hostility. Null’s “attack” is the ability to ban players through contact. While this feature is possibly toggled, it seems as though it is usually on by default. Null does not like to be touched by other players, unless they specifically choose to be touched. Null, as the supposed protagonist, sees other players as antagonists, and is delivered the task of ridding this wire-frame world of all integers.

The reason Null does this is dependent on who Null is outside of the game. It’s theorized that Null is the developer, Zak Ayles or Mooosh, in which case this world and Null are created as a way for Ayles to find some form of solace that they are unable to find in the real world. However, this theory is not entirely proven, and it is possible that there are multiple Null, in which case they could be admins in charge of keeping the world within the game in order. Then what separates these admins from other players? Are they other creators of the game, or simply random individuals chosen to hold this power?

Two Null traveling together

Two Null traveling together

Unfortunately, little is known about this game, due to it’s rather recent release and obscurity. But what is certain is that in I’m Null, you are not Null. You are the antagonist to Null’s game, and your role in this story is to be banned, or destroy yourself by closing the window. Null’s characterization in this game is mysterious, but vastly fascinating in the world of games as literature.

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