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misery structure

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Press X to kiss your boyfriend. Post-apocalyptic Loom. Multi-gender drifting…

A Russian Valentine by empty_fortress

Retro stealth game about Russian homophobia. Hold down X to kiss your boyfriend (best instructions ever) and gain a point. If the cops see, they’ll chase you, so you want to use the location of houses to minimize cop interference and have an escape route (they stop chasing if their line of sight gets interrupted). Creepy homing cops, ack.

Eventually I found a place behind a house where no cops could see me and I kissed my boyfriend forever. This was a peaceful cute feeling. I may live in a black void of identical houses and giant robot cops but goddamnit I’ve found the one xy coordinate in this whole reality where I can kiss my boyfriend.

Sinkh’s Lair by rimturs

Well what’s not to like about this?! It’s got your relentless monstrous laughter, it’s got your hideous zombie gurgling, it’s got your dying in helpless confusion as you fight the controls and enemies spawn into your body. It’s the whole package.

I like how the dungeon is small and static, a racetrack with crude idiosyncrasies to memorize, brutal acquisition balanced against escaping before the toxic air kills you.

The way your HP depletes is truly sensual…standing close to enemies silently drains your heart…an insidious slimy feel to damage, like if a dungeon crawler was designed as a somber treatise on the dangers of lead poisoning…love how your dying animation almost looks like you’re just really tired and you want to take a nap…this is what we in the vidgame biz call a “misery structure”…enter the maze…die…enter the maze…die…get stuck on something…die…get the blood…get the coins…truly this game brings us face to face with our deepest fears…on an unrelated note my right hand’s ring finger’s nail has gotten too long to easily play many games…any game where that finger has to touch the keyboard…but I keep it long because there was a time when my anxiety kept me biting my nails short and bloody…so my nails are kind of this visual indicator of wellness for me now…anyways game developers if you want me to review your games please send me one of those special theramine-style keyboards powered by the slightest touch of long beautiful nails…I think Logitech makes it…just drop it in the sewer…it will reach me…

Flippy Bord by OneMrBean

The Most Beautiful Flappy Bird Game In The World aka Flappy Bird made out of cardboard, with a wonderfully physical feel.

Olav & the Lute by Shelly Alon

Olaf & the Lute is like Loom set in the post-apocalypse, a short point and click adventure with musical spells. Each four-note melody has a ~magical~ effect, like Open Thing or Fill Thing With Water, and playing them backward has the opposite effect–filling a chasm full of water, then freezing it.

Gaming Cockroach by Jonathan Ellena

This is exactly what the title says. This is a cockroach playing Tetris. You crawl around the controller and jump on buttons. This is the Archy and Mehitabel of games. It’s less about Tetris and more about how hard it is for cockroaches to play Tetris. Flawless simulation A+++

Saturn V by Cosmo D

This feels like someone’s cozy dream house except in space (on their website they call it a “galactic tree-house”). It’s designed around the song Saturn V by jazzy classical electronica band Archie Pelago, and uses the 3D environment to present the band’s influences alongside the music, placing mundane tools of production like Ableton Live and a drawing board next to murals and sculptures. The song is dynamic, mixing itself based on your position.

// by Deirdra Kiai

Each passage in // flips between two perspectives: people from opposite gender expressions longing to cross over to the other side. The parallel structure is so good at mapping out gender harm. The way we’re forced to choose two rigid uniforms instead of flowing and adapting to our own expression.

[SPOILERS] The chronological structure hits so many dysphoric nerves, all these memories I’d suppressed across the spectrum of time. The ending is good because it doesn’t assume some perfect end point where you’ve figured everything out and attained 100% Gender, it just knows that having any of your shit together is a victory.

There is so much misunderstanding over what dysphoria looks like. I’m Miserable And I Don’t Know Why is something we’re taught to accept in the absence of diverse narratives. The truth is, dysphoria isn’t simple. God doesn’t beam an image of lipstick into your brain, rotating like a display car in a dealership as a salesperson extols the virtues of Gender. Everything in our society is intended to suppress, confuse, and distort dysphoria. You’re just Depressed For No Reason, get medicated, or you must be Bad At Gender…practice more gender!

There are numerous fail-safes intended to stave off the realization. Like, trans women pressured to be gay or cross-dressing, anything other than the gendercrime of Being a Woman and actually crossing over to HELL. And god forbid if you don’t fall into a neat binary. Then you’re really fucked, in this culture that permits more diversity in phone brands than it permits in gender (for the record, I’m a Cybiko).

Games like this push back against a culture designed to suppress our gender longings, which is why // is an important public service.

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