Michael Koloch's The Old Man Club is a good example of what games can do well: create a complex space for feeling in just a few gestures. It's a game about arm-wrestling eloquent, impossibly-brawny anthromorphs, often with fish heads, and it's a truly-clever adapation of Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea.
Imagine Hemingway's book about the complicated, stubborn heart of a certain type of masculinity as a game—a game about testing your might versus fish-men. You arm-wrestle by clicking your mouse furiously, a particular sort of frustrating and desperate act. You can easily beat your first opponent, a gentle, gawping trout-head, lurking in the doorway of the Old Man Club, a charmingly-scribbled wood shack pinned with quaint reminders of the sea (and, grimly, fishing gear), but the next one won't be so easy, and the one after that?
You start to hunger for advancement. You are loath to back down. How much stamina have you got? I mean, psychologically?
I'd love to see more games capture literary conceits in such creative ways. The attention to quality in this very simple work really adds something extra—the smooth transitions when you click to look around the Old Man Club, the splendid, absurd character art.
Download The Old Man Club for free or pay-what-you-want.
“Coca-Cola: Blade Roller,” directed by David Fincher in 1993. (via ObscureMedia)
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Zoya Street, curator of Critical Distance, offers slow reflections on the fast-paced world of digital play…
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