Plink by DinahMoe – The anonymous jam session

I recently found the web app/game ‘Plink’, and I’ve been completely addicted to it. Plink is an experimental app built for chrome by creative audio company DinahMoe which allows people to create music to a continuous beat. It is fairly simple, you mouse click (or tap if using a touch screen) to create a note and you can change your ‘instrument’. While it is possible to set up sessions with friends, you can also play with a small group of random people.

A screenshot of Plink. Each player has a trail of bubbles – solid ones show where notes have been played. The lines and gaps indicate the notes of the scale.

The best thing I found about Plink was that while the game doesn’t force co-operation between players in any way, that co-operation happened anyway. It would be totally possible to disrupt the musical flow by tapping completely out of time to the beat, or dominate the session by constantly tapping, this didn’t happen at any point whilst I was playing, even though I felt that I almost expected someone to ruin the game (I think there’s another blog topic in there – do we always expect the worst in anything anonymous on the internet?) The music would soon fall into a pattern where one or two people would be creating the tune whilst the other players would be adding accompaniment and waiting their ‘turn’ just as you would in a standard Jazz session.

I suppose it’s possible that most of the people who would be interested in something like Plink would already be musical in some way, but whether or not that’s true I was quite touched by the level of co-operation between users who were only nicknames on a screen. I’ve sometimes found that with many different online games, the less interaction the players can actually have with each other the more they do co operate, and can even find ways to communicate using the tools available – I had several ‘duets’ with other players where we copied each others musical phrases or tried to respond to a phrase with something appropriate.

I found literally as I was writing this blog that DinahMoe have made a number of other sound-based games which sound amazing and I’ll be checking them out right after this.

  • ToneCraft – A game where adding blocks in different places and of different colours in a 3D environment creates a musical composition (Google Chrome)
  • Traffic Jam – A racing game where the music indicates changes of events (so I guess kind of the reverse of the game AudioSurf, in which events change in time to the chosen musical track)

(I have to apologise for the briefness of this article as I haven’t written much in a while and need to get back into the swing of things. I’ll hopefully be starting my Masters Degree Dissertation on Mobile Film making soon and I’ll be writing more frequently. I just felt that Plink was too awesome not to talk about!)

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