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.