and i made sure to hold your head sideways
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A new videogame about piecing together drunken memories

Is it a coincidence that autobiographical games are the ones that seem to experiment with new storytelling ideas the most? Look at the infinite scrolling world of life and death in Passage (2007), the collage of frustrations in Dys4ia (2012), the awkward online conversations of Cibele (2015), and the interweaving of emotionally-charged 3D spaces in That Dragon, Cancer (2016). We can now add to this list the latest game by Jenny Jiao Hsia, which recalls a night out drinking with friends, or at least the part where she had to look after one of them and get them to hospital. It’s called and i…

Spherical Constitution
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A videogame about the physical pain of having a body

There really aren’t enough videogames about the physical constraints of the body. We have so many games about wonderful bodies: those that can jump high and run fast, that are shot at with bullets and cannonballs yet miraculously heal of all injury seconds later, bodies that move frictionless throughout the length of their virtual existence. Where are the aches and pains of aging? Where are the stretch marks and permanent pressures of contortion? It’s the inconsequential freedom of bodies in videogames that is often the greatest source of their fantasy. We would probably all act recklessly in reality if we…

Forgotten
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In Forgotten, you’re the horror inside the computer

“It’s now safe to turn off your computer.” Anyone who owned a PC in the ’90s should be familiar with this strange statement. It only appeared once you’d instructed the computer to shut down. But now it also serves as the ending to Sophia Park‘s new Twine game, Forgotten. It’s a fitting closure given that you spend your time inside an old computer with a nearly exhausted hard drive. When you leave you have destroyed the last remnants of a virtual world and the inhabitants that had spent years dwelling within. That final statement suggests that, after your cleansing (or destructive) act,…

Broken Breakout
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Here’s a tip: Break games to find new ones

Sign up to receive each week’s Playlist e-mail here! Also check out our full, interactive Playlist section. Broken Breakout? (Browser, Windows, Mac) By Tim Garbos One person’s trash is another person’s treasure. That’s how the old adage goes. But can it be applied to videogames? Tim Garbos seems to have set out on a solo mission to prove that it can with his Ludum Dare 37 entry Broken Breakout? The game follows the same rules as the Atari arcade classic but takes away some of the mechanics. For starters, the bat is immovable and the ball isn’t perpetually bouncing around. But…

The Employee
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The salaryman’s tragic tale turned into an efficient videogame theater

Videogames about the drudgery of working in a dead-end job, pushing piles of paper off a desk, are as old as, well … almost as old as videogames. One of the first was probably Takeshi no Chōsenjō, the 1986 game directed by Takeshi Kitano (known for the game show Takeshi’s Castle as well as starring in and directing his own films), which began by having you roam a Japanese city working as a salaryman. You stuck to the dull daily routine of a salaryman until you quit the job and worked out what else you could do. But Takeshi no Chōsenjō wasn’t meant as a…

Acre 6
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Brendon Chung’s latest game makes a mockery of RPGs

I missed the latest game by Brendon Chung (creator of Thirty Flights of Loving, Quadrilateral Cowboy) when he released it last month, but it’s certainly worth highlighting. Called Acre 6, it’s a deconstruction of the classic RPG, full of jest, made for the Procedural Generation Jam. It starts you out with a map marked only with icons for areas of forest and landmarks like temples, ruins, and villages. The only interaction available is to move the mouse to guide a circle, representing you as the player character, who journeys across this map leaving a dashed line behind them. open-world games rarely…

Burnt Matches
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Pippin Barr’s new game brings concrete poetry to life

Concrete poetry is the method of using a poem’s shape or visual arrangement to convey meaning or, at least, to form an image relevant to the poem’s themes. A famous example is Silencio (1954) by Eugen Gomringer, which repeats the world “silencio” (silence) 14 times to form a square block with a void at its center—the block evoking ideas of silence as an oppressive tool, but the emptiness in the middle also read by some as a form of peace. Pippin Barr uses the technique in his new Twine game Burnt Matches but expands on its utility through the use of…

Exit 19
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Ambient Mixtape 16 is a superb collection of eerie games

Ah, it’s so good when this happens. What am I on about? Oh, you know, nine independent game makers decided to get together and make a game each, then package them all under the title Ambient Mixtape 16. The idea was for all of them to use the same tools and format—a First Person Camera controller made by Alex Harvey for Unity3D—and to see how their individual styles interpreted the theme “After Hours.” For the most part these are mood pieces, focusing on broadcasting a sense of unease, often using a choppy or distorted visual effect with killer sound effects…

This is Fine
News

“This is Fine,” a game for post-election results America

Just over a week has passed since Donald Trump became the United States’ president-elect in a historic upset that rattled the hearts and minds of progressive America. Like so many others, I watched the final hours of the election in tears as the inconceivable became our new reality. Since last Tuesday, a significant spike in hate crimes has been reported, the hateful now emboldened by the election of a man who shares their values. Protests against Trump have erupted all over the country. Hundreds of thousands of people are taking to the streets to let the nation know that he is “not…