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.
One million Americans use American Sign Language as their primary means of communication. But as you'd expect, even though ASL is the sixth-most used language in the US, it isn't just any old language like English or Spanish or French. According to Communication Service for the Deaf, 98 percent of Deaf people don't receive education […]
After a successful round of funding on Kickstarter, Fluster: The Social Card Game is now ready to help turn a party or game night into the engaging, surprising, and enlightening social affair you always hoped it would be. A deck of 100 cards, Fluster is chock full of unusual, funny, and thought-provoking questions inspired to […]
Physics may have been that class you sleepwalked your way through in high school. But while it might have just slipped under your radar throughout your academic career, you probably shouldn't have given it such shallow attention. Sure, we could focus on the immediate pluses of a career as a physicist, like the more than […]