The creator of QWOP and GIRP talks about how we can live forever. We see game design in between the lines.


Bennett Foddy, the creator of hyper-difficult “sports” games QWOP and GIRP, also has a second life. He’s a philosopher at Oxford. (Perhaps it’s the other way around and philosophy is hobby?). Anyway, the Atlantic has a lengthy interview with Foddy about the ethics of radical aging treatments that will dramatically extend human life. The entire thing is worth a read, but, like usual, I was interested in how Foddy’s work might intersect with his work as a game designer. His thoughts on the nature of death encapsulate some of his work perfectly:

Having said that, death is, in fact, inevitable. Even if we solve every medical problem, you still have a 1 in 1,000 chance of dying every year by some sort of accident. So, on those odds you could probably expect to live to be about 1,000. I don’t think it’s ever going to be the case that we will live forever. It’s not even going to be 1,000. We’re probably talking about living to be 120 or 150 or somewhere around there, but to me the idea that we have to accept living to 80 rather than 120 is bizarre given that it’s not so long ago that we lived to 40. 

If you’ve played QWOP or GIRP, you know that the Herculean effort required to even make a passing attempt is quite high. When I interviewed Foddy at this year’s ROFLCON, he often pointed to this idea that he wanted remind people that games are inherently social. That is, as a game designer, he wants players to confront his creation — albeit a system that kills you constantly. If we extrapolate from Foddy’s comments on the nature of death in human existence, the stretch isn’t so far. QWOP and GIRP are reminders that in games as in life, perfection comes at a high cost, if it’s even attainable at all.

[via Andrew Sullivan]