When Lucas Pope made Papers, Please, which I think is one of the best games of my lifetime, he showed that bureaucracy can be darkly funny, even as it inexorably squeezes the life out of a person, a system.
You don't think games about signing and stamping and shuffling and checking numbers can be engaging, and yet there's something mysteriously compelling about the simple, repetitive tasks. With the brand-new jam game Unsolicited, Pope delivers a little game about sending out form letters for timeshares, charities, sweepstakes, bill collectors and more, and again he manages to unearth the secret glee we all conceal at being an agent of performance. It's fun and you can't help it and what is wrong with the human brain?
It's the way Pope makes everything feel touchable, the rustling of colorful paper sheets, the scratch of pen on paper, that keeps me glued to Unsolicited. Against a time limit, you have to fill in the correct fields across an increasing variety of notices. Other people's names blur rudely together; their chance to win, their dream vacation, their kind donation becomes a jumble of statistics, backdropped by color-popped stationery logos and exhortations to prioritize client care from your employer.
Unsolicited was made for the recent Ludum Dare 33 weekend game jam, whose theme was "You are the Monster". We're seeing all kinds of clever stuff coming out of the jam: games about everything from the European refugee crisis to everyday misanthropy.
Pope is currently working on Return of the Obra Dinn, a sort of mystery-exploration game about a shipwreck.
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.
Twitter rants and various online ugliness aside, social media has actually grown up a bit over the past 15 years. In general, users are warier of their interactions on platforms like Facebook or Instagram — and marketers have taken note. In fact, if you felt retailers you saw on social media were only looking to […]
Virus quarantines and shuttered restaurants sent millions of Americans back to their homes, only to rediscover the joys of firing up an oven and cooking something special for themselves. Whether by desire, necessity, or both, many of us have certainly been spending more time in the kitchen these last few months. And we haven’t just […]
Now that the world is starting to re-emerge from its self-imposed COVID-19 quarantine, we’re all going to have to start making some adjustments to both short-term and long-term changes. And the questions… Should customers be hounded out of a store if they aren’t wearing a face mask? Are crocheted face masks safe or not? And […]