Issue 28 11.20.13

Issue 28

I find that there’s an aspect of games that is frequently missing: honesty. Many games seem to have been created purely for novelty, leaving the idea behind the game forgotten. Some of these games have artist’s statements, and they open with lines like “most games are about this, but my game is about this other thing.” The games don’t feel like an honest expression of an artist’s ideas. The games seem to be an attempt to be the first game to do something. I think it’s important for artists to take their medium for granted, or else they’ll be tempted by novelty. Here are some examples of games that seem to be made with honesty.

The Relationship Saga is a game by captaincabinets, which  tells the story of a brief relationship in a series of short games. The game is unpolished and buggy and at times sarcastic, but it is very honest. Some of the games have dopey, self-conscious mechanics, like the game wherein you wait for your love interest to contact you by staying near your computer, but have to maintain your morale by walking away from the computer to drink beer. The game does not put the player in his partner’s shoes even though that is something that games can do and is oh-so-often demanded of games about relationships. The game does not tell the story from the other perspective because it is autobiographical. At any moment during any of the games you can press “c” to smoke a cigarette. I don’t think I’ve ever played a game that lets you smoke cigarettes that I didn’t enjoy.

In A Sad Tale, by Lurk, you play as a young boy who lives in a cabin in a blizzard. You have a doting mother and an abusive father. There is a gun, a confrontational neighbor, and a lake with thin ice, along with a few other props. One of the buttons will make your character cry. The game  is very open-ended and every time you play it you will create a new narrative, but all of them are very sad. One time you might steal your neighbor’s daughter and fall into the lake. Another time you might wander out into the forest and freeze to death. The game is excessively morose in a way that isn’t overly sentimental or sarcastic. Lurk doesn’t think it’s an art game.

Metro Rules of Conduct from Kian Bashiri on Vimeo.

In Metro Rules of Conduct, by Kian Bashiri, you try to stare at people’s possessions on the metro without having them look at you. If someone looks at you while you’re looking at their stuff, the screen flashes red and the game makes a horrible noise. It is a much worse punishment than the fact that you don’t get any points. The game is piercingly insightful about a completely mundane action, and addresses the power of the gaze and the unspoken rules of social interaction and anomie—it doesn’t need an artist’s statement to tell you this. Kian Bashiri also made You Have To Burn the Rope and when he didn’t win any IGF awards for it he took down his website for a while and I was worried that Metro Rules of Conduct would be lost forever.

So, in conclusion, play those games, make more games, and stay honest y’all.