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Wander through Doom like an endless nightmare

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Ever play a video game so often that it shows up in your dreams?

That's the idea behind Doomdream, an interactive experience created by Ian MacLarty to simulate what his own dreams look like after he's been playing the classic 1993 shooter Doom all day.

Although there are no enemies, no combat or really any plot, it generates a labyrinth of pixelated gray tunnels and bloody stalagmites for you to wander in forever, recreating the nightmare of so many players who got lost in the purgatory of Doom's looping levels, searching fruitlessly for an exit sign.

Basically, it's kind of like that Windows 95 maze screensaver, except you can control your movement, and also it's Doom. Interested? Download it now.

Play it now: Apocalypse Gardening

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I love when games make you balance two sides of your brain at once. It's not because I'm good at it -- actually, some kind of schismatic asymmetry opens up and I very quickly lose my sense of myself. But I think that space feels interesting, and Apocalypse Gardening shoots right into it.

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Lightning Bolt's bassist is making a 'rhythm violence' game

You're a space beetle careening toward a confrontation with a futuristic giant head. That's the premise of Thumper, an upcoming music game from Brian Gibson, bassist of tooth-rattling classic Lightning Bolt, and Seoul-based programmer Mark Flury.

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Tinder, reviewed as a game

Gita Jackson and Maxwell Neely-Cohen apply a traditional video game reviewer's eye to recent years' hottest downloadable sensation.

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The loveliest game manual you've seen in ages

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Game manuals are all but obsolete these days. Not only do we rarely buy games physically, but one sign of 'good game design' by modern standards is when the player intrinsically knows what to do, is invited gently into an experience by subtle training. No need to study rules and controls.

The manuals I remember were treasures, though, vividly-illustrated and explicated guides to the worlds I played in. They turned crude, chunky computer images into imaginary places and characters that felt real. The blocky sprite on my screen became a tall, luminous watercolor heroine in my manual. Maps and bestiaries made the confusing conquerable. Sometimes the manuals left space for your own maps and notes, your scrawl of distinction and ownership.

I'd sort of forgotten how much I liked that feeling til I came across the manual for Minkomora, a new game from Joni Kittaka and Merritt Kopas (working together as Kikopa Games). It's a simple exploration game you can play in your browser, but it's valuable to read the beautiful PDF manual first. You can download it for free, or pay as you like.

The game itself offers a world of high-contrast, almost naive colors and shapes inspired by Lois Ehlert's 1992 children's book Circus. But the manual presents gentle terran tones and elegant character design, evoking the imagination gaps of our youth. Characters like "Tak-Tak" "Kitagona" and "Palbatanzer", referred to by name only in the manual, remind of those almost-surreal translations of Japanese game manuals -- the tone is just right. minkomora2

Reading Minkomora's manual brings the warm comfort that also goes hand in hand with nostalgia, and offers clues to the actual purpose of the simple game. It's a guide for how to play Minkomora, mostly intransible by itself, in a way that engenders self-love and clarity, perhaps even meditation. It even has a Notes section in the back, just like the olden days.

On a marginally related note, I enjoy following the Super Mario Facts Twitter feed, which spouts Wiki excerpts about Nintendo's Super Mario universe with the broken authority of a classic, low-budget hints magazine.

Feelings machines: games that capture a moment

ceMelusine makes small, simple virtual spaces that feel as unknowable and vast as the human heartRead the rest

Five games about cats for you to try

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Being wonderfully weird, capricious and regal, cats are easy to adore (even if it's just the brain parasites). Inexplicably compelling, they're also often ideal subjects for games.

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Want to listen to Animal Crossing music all day?

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Sometimes, your workday just needs the kind of pastoral background music that makes you feel like you live in a village full of animals, right? Nintendo's popular Animal Crossing lets you make your living through labor no more complex than collecting shells, fishing, and shaking trees for surprises, which fills one with simple longing.

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Learn about game development in Africa

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Game development is on the rise in Africa. Just for example, the first-ever West African Gaming Expo was hosted in Lagos last fall, and an eagerly-anticipated roleplaying game made in Cameroon will launch later this year.

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The many inglorious deaths of my virtual fish

How an 'anti-nurturing sim' helps reveal the importance of mortality in gamesRead the rest

Play it now: Stick Shift

Do you want to have a homoerotic experience with your manual transmission? Yeah, of course you do. Come on, you saucy saucepot, don't tell me you never found it a little hot, all that ignition, the sleek, firm bulb of the gear shift trembling in your palm.

Robert Yang's latest game, Stick Shift, explores the intimate relationship between a man and his gay car, although you don't need to be a man or a vehicle to enjoy it. The game opens with all the familiar auditory foreplay that comes with driving: The click of the seatbelt, the hum and thunk of the dashboard lights. Then you give it gas and flick-tug into gear, and as the car vibrates to life, you, the driver, are washed in bug-eyed bliss and the nocturnal luminescence of the road.

It's worth trying for that moment alone, when Davey and the Chains' "Crybaby" smacks you in the face. And also for the red-faced humiliation you'll feel when you stall, rattling and screeching.

I've never felt so impotent. I wish I'd learned to drive standard. No idea. You can laugh.

Robert Yang's Stick Shift is free to download, but the developer accepts donations toward his ongoing work (you've already read about his game Hurt Me Plenty here on Offworld). Stick Shift contains no actual sex or nudity and is safe for work. stickshift2

Make a text adventure using only 300 words

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Do you have about an hour? Can you write 300 words? Then you can—and should—make your own text adventure today.

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The BBC made a 'controversial' new game about Syria

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Games aren't just playful -- they let players inhabit characters, visit unfamiliar places or practice problem-solving within complicated systems.

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There's a Steven Universe RPG you can play on your phone

Last week, the Cartoon Network released a delicious Easter treat: an RPG based on Steven Universe that you can play on your phone for only $2.99.

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How Scandinavian players 'killed' LARPing to save it

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When most people think of live-action role-playing, or LARPing, they imagine men battling each other with foam swords in the woods. But what if LARPing looked more like improv: thirteen friends sitting around a table, acting out a dinner party or a family reunion? In some places, it already does.

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Let go: this moving game about gravity will catch you

In most games, you live or die by your reflexes. In this one, you trust the universe to catch you. Read the rest

Radical sci-fi by social activists 'decolonizes the imagination'

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Can science fiction be a form of social activism? Walidah Imarisha thinks so, and she's recruited everyone from LeVar Burton to Mumia Abu-Jamal to help her prove it.

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