Border control simulation Papers, Please may have launched a whole mini-genre of games where emotional conflict and narrative emerges from your repetition of detail-intensive bureaucratic tasks. S.O.R.S (it stands for "Spatially Offset Raman Spectography") takes this inspiration and creates a weird but unique sci-fi world around diagnostic equipment.
If you love medical simulation games (and I have since I was a kid!) you'll find some of the basics appealing: Learn to watch for symptoms, interact with patients, and access a toolset of diagnostic tools that gets ever more elaborate as you succeed as a doctor. But the narrative wrapper around the game is interesting: "the earth's population has grown to the point where mankind has expanded upwards, living in ever-growing skyscrapers, and criminals are sent to live on floating solar-powered ships in the sky." Each work day you get new and sometimes puzzling instructions, and occasionally, mysterious emails from people who warn that things are not all that they seem at your job.
S.O.R.S. has been Greenlit on Steam, but you can still play a free demo for Windows or Mac here.
Games excel at teaching systems and at getting people to perform repetitive labor—like when you 'grind' for points and money, or when you repeat a puzzle in Alphabear so you can level up your bears. That's why these subversive storytelling techniques can be lots of fun, prompting us to question all the things we do just because we're told, and to think about what kinds of authorities we trust in (Portal became an instant classic because of this, obviously, and The Stanley Parable is another popular example).
The Offworld Collection, presenting the very best features and essays from Offworld, is finally available to buy directly from Campo Santo for $40. I had the pleasure of designing and illustrating this splendid 250-page hardcover volume, but it’s the excellent writing, edited by Leigh Alexander and Laura Hudson, that makes it an essential buy. You […]
Zoya Street, curator of Critical Distance, offers slow reflections on the fast-paced world of digital play…
This week, our partnership with Critical Distance brings us reading on parenting via Tomb Raider, the utility of the word ‘gameplay’, and experiences from Nintendo ‘play counselors’ from the 1980s and 90s.
If you’re into tech at all, you should definitely consider unleashing your inner tinkerer on a Raspberry Pi board. If you’re intimidated, don’t be. It’s a statistical probability that people half your age have created cooler things than you can imagine with the versatile kit. Not sure where to start? The Complete Raspberry Pi 3B+ […]
Are you super organized? You’re going to love the Genius Pack G4 and its seemingly limitless, well-placed compartments. Not that organized? You’re still going to love this piece of luggage because it’s so well thought out that it practically does the packing for you. We’ve all tried to stuff a piece of carry-on so full […]
Despite government legislation and improving caller ID technology, robocalls and scam artists are rampant on the phone lines – up to 35 billion a year in the US alone. They can be annoying at best and a financial threat at worst, but there’s a way to take security into your own hands. One good example […]