Priceless Play – 9 November 2019


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

In a previous life, I thought-about myself an artwork historian (it’s because I acquired a grasp’s diploma in artwork historical past, so I assume let’s imagine that previous life is that this life, however let’s not make it bizarre) and my favorite works have been all the time those that appeared to make different folks uncomfortable or acquired 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

Walking simulators should be the highest contenders of “probably not a sport” criticism. Whether it’s the sensible Kitty Horrorshow’s Anatomy and The Haunted Cities collection, or Sacramento or Proteus, Walking Simulators rise to the highest of rivalry for “bizarre video games.” (Side notice: examine this fab convo between Alice O and Pip on what’s/shouldn’t be/may be a strolling simulator.)

2:22 solely bears the next description: “An expertise. Play alone. Play at night time.” The LearnMe provides a small preview into the expertise with its record 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 collection of vignettes which, altogether, span the size of round 15 – 20 minutes. The sport is tagged as a strolling simulator, however I’d additionally take into account 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. Occasionally, it can insert footage of some mundane job (boiling a kettle) or place (a subway platform, at night time). 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 performed any of Grant Howett’s one-shot RPGs? They’re delightfully irreverent, sometimes-serious, all the time well-designed takes on tabletop role-playing video games that you would be able to obtain and play proper now. Howett lately penned the pen-and-paper RPG, Skyfarer, with Christopher Taylor. The TTRPG accompanied the discharge of Sunless Skies from my mates over at Failbetter 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 prison bear with two stats: CRIMINAL and BEAR.” You use cube to resolve in your varied prison/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 know the type. Can you pull off the heist? You have a 50/50 probability for many encounters, so it’s actually fairly a raffle. I’m right here to cheer you on to candy, candy, victory.

(Disclosure: our personal Nate Crowley lately wrote an analogous sport with Grant, referred to 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 — often solely in a position to say how I’m feeling it: “I’m so indignant 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.”

In this Twine sport, “Just 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 mushy and virtually illegible script. “I don’t know the right way to put it into phrases,” they are saying. “I’m overreacting.” Feelings can tough, uncomfortable, sticky, and embodied issues. Sometimes our our bodies inform us what we’re feeling earlier than we will 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 would possibly one other individual assume this sits outdoors the norm? What does it say concerning the “regular” expertise of taking part in a online game, that this would possibly 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 frequently 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, almost certainly).

In No Stars, Only 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. But 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 night time to stargaze. I hear the intercourse was fairly good, too.

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