BlueSuburbia was a Flash website comprised of a collection of interactive poetry.
Each poem was animated in a surrealist, often metaphoric, way to bring the writing to life. The poetry would live in these dreamy worlds, one transitioning to the next.
It was presented as a dark neighborhood that you came across in a dream… and there you found a large abandoned home. The home was a living world where you could discover books that were like doorways into poetic realms.
The animation style was like Disney’s Fantasia meets late 90’s goth.
The poems were often about war, refugees, poverty, and the American School System, because the project was my way of dealing with the culture shock of being in America, having moved there during the war.
The first version was published in 1999. It had a cult following that steadily grew over a decade, with people regularly returning to it until the end of the Flash Player.
It meant a lot to many people.
I often got emails about it from people telling me that it helped them through an abusive childhood, or it was the reason that they decided to get into art.
I was just a teenager when I made this, especially when I wrote many of the poems. I’m not the same person anymore. When I showed it at my first E3 in 2013 one player commented that it was like having a stack of goth poetry dumped on them. Maybe that’s true, either way… I’m proud of it and its underground legacy.
Teenager me pulled together every resource that I could to bring it to a level of quality that I thought it needed to be.
I remember planning on how to build it during classes, hiding in the library, making my designs…
The attention it got in professional circles was a lot for a teenager. I love the anonymity that it afforded me as this mysterious artist responsible for it.
I’d often get professional adults emailing me their resumes.
None of my teachers knew that I was doing this, and my friends had no clue. It was my secret identity.
With the death of the Flash Player, and emulators not really being completely up to par yet (someday hopefully!), there is no real way of experiencing BlueSuburbia in the browser, AS IT WAS INTENDED.
The Ruffle emulator still has major features missing, an there are serious issues with the sound.
The only way to view the Flash version of BlueSuburbia (as it was intended) without any of these issues… Is to run it with the Flash Player Debugger.
Follow these steps…
Download the Flash Player 32 Debugger from the Internet Archive:
Thankfully there are a number of these on the Internet Archive. This is a standalone player that was used for development.
It’s a critical piece of the preservation puzzle because it’s really often the only way to run SWF file where emulators might fail. For example, it’s the only way to run ActionScript 2 projects.
Once you have it, and have the debugger executable ready to go…
Download the “BlueSuburbia_1999FlashVersion.zip” that’s available on the BlueSuburbia itch page:
Unzip that and find the file called:
Right click over it and select “open with” the Flash Player Debugger… Navigate to wherever you may have put that executable.
And now you can run the Flash version of BlueSuburbia (just as it was intended to be seen)!
These are the same files that are still hosted on the BlueSuburbia website under Volume 2.
The Ruffle emulated version of BlueSuburbia is also playable here: http://bluesuburbia.com/BlueSuburbia_em/
Recommended reading: How to play that one Flash game you used to play back in the days