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Priceless Play – 9 November 2019

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I’ve been considering quite a bit about “bizarre video games” these days. When of us name issues bizarre it appears to be a shortcut for saying, “that is totally different from what I normally expertise, and was, subsequently, sudden.” Generally it’s dismissive, typically it’s contentious, typically ‘bizarre’ is worn as a badge of honour.

In a previous life, I thought-about myself an artwork historian (it’s because I received a grasp’s diploma in artwork historical past, so I suppose lets say that previous life is that this life, however let’s not make it bizarre) and my favorite works have been at all times those that appeared to make different individuals uncomfortable or received dismissed as “not artwork, absolutely.” I don’t say this to be smugly contrarian, revelling in how singularly distinctive and misunderstood I’m (Todd Phillips: name me), however to provide a little bit of background into my understanding of what tends to get categorised as “bizarre.” Suffice to say, my dad and mom hate going to artwork museums with me.

I promise to not speak to you about Carolee Schneemann or Sherree Rose, however I’ll advocate some video games on itch.io for you.

2:22 AM from Umbrella Isle

Strolling simulators should be the highest contenders of “not likely a sport” criticism. Whether or not it’s the sensible Kitty Horrorshow’s Anatomy and The Haunted Cities sequence, or Sacramento or Proteus, Strolling Simulators rise to the highest of rivalry for “bizarre video games.” (Facet observe: check this fab convo between Alice O and Pip on what is/is not/might be a walking simulator.)

2:22 solely bears the next description: “An expertise. Play alone. Play at evening.” The ReadMe provides a small preview into the expertise with its listing of belongings: “static” “hiss pop assortment” “music field: lullaby” and “stone dragging sound” are listed alongside “vegetable chop” and “boop”. The sport itself is a sequence of vignettes which, altogether, span the size of round 15 – 20 minutes. The sport is tagged as a strolling simulator, however I’d additionally think about it an ambient expertise sport. It doesn’t ask a lot of you however to sit down there, to stroll round, to gather baubles right into a mug. Sometimes, it is going to insert footage of some mundane process (boiling a kettle) or place (a subway platform, at evening). I get the pervasive feeling of being a baby and falling asleep in entrance of the tv, solely to be woken up by an infomercial at some unknowable hour within the morning.

Honey Heist from Grant Howett

Have you ever performed any of Grant Howett’s one-shot RPGs? They’re delightfully irreverent, sometimes-serious, at all times well-designed takes on tabletop role-playing video games you can obtain and play proper now. Howett just lately penned the pen-and-paper RPG, Skyfarer, with Christopher Taylor. The TTRPG accompanied the discharge of Sunless Skies from my pals over at Failbetter Video games — however I feel my favorite works of his have been the scrawled-on-the-back-of-a-napkin kind, like Honey Heist.

In Honey Heist, “you’re a felony bear with two stats: CRIMINAL and BEAR.” You utilize cube to resolve in your varied felony/bear traits (true to life, I rolled rookie/hacker/solar bear) and should work to execute the best heist of honey the world has ever seen. You’re not a very intelligent, speaking bear — extra of the grumbling and stumbling sort who can barely handle human speech. You realize the type. Are you able to pull off the heist? You could have a 50/50 probability for many encounters, so it’s actually fairly a bet. I’m right here to cheer you on to candy, candy, victory.

(Disclosure: our personal Nate Crowley just lately wrote an identical sport with Grant, known as Reverse Beastmaster – ed.)

Just Tell Me How You Feel from Kara Stone

I feel that emotions are a number of the weirdest issues on the planet. There are few issues so affecting, and so indescribable, as a very highly effective feeling. I usually wrestle to precisely convey to others what I’m feeling — normally solely in a position to say how I’m feeling it: “I’m so offended that I can’t even assume straight.” “I’m actually wired, I’ve such a headache.” “I’m feeling actually comfortable, like I’m strolling on air.”

On this Twine sport, “Simply inform me how you are feeling,” Kara Stone conveys these related frustrations in attempting to speak to others about what they really feel. The phrases are suspended in static, a comfortable and nearly illegible script. “I don’t know how you can put it into phrases,” they are saying. “I’m overreacting.” Emotions can troublesome, uncomfortable, sticky, and embodied issues. Generally our our bodies inform us what we’re feeling earlier than we are able to even put a reputation to it. “I can already inform,” writes Stone. “Your physique drips with it.”

No Stars, Only Constellations from Robert Yang

I feel I like bizarre video games as a result of they drive me to sit down with what makes me uncomfortable. Why do I feel that is bizarre? Why may one other particular person assume this sits outdoors the norm? What does it say concerning the “regular” expertise of taking part in a online game, that this may exist on the periphery? If a sport glitches out, can I learn it generously into an general optimistic weirdness? When sourcing video games for this piece, I used to be regularly drawn to video games with display tear, video games which presupposed to be impressed by VHS tapes and CRTVs, single-page GM-less experimental RPGs, and video games about emotions (queer emotions, most probably).

In No Stars, Solely Constellations you piece stars collectively into constellations, and doing so carries the story alongside. I feel Yang’s sport is a few breakup, or heartbreak, or remembering a previous relationship because it ends. However I by no means managed to get it that far — the sport glitched simply as I used to be piecing collectively a constellation, placing the sport and its narrative into stasis. It was nonetheless a pleasant evening to stargaze. I hear the intercourse was fairly good, too.


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