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Live Free Play Hard: Oralphoning Is Not Sexual

Undercover cop at a cat show. Bladerunner interrogation. Bluetooth technology.

Electric Tortoise by Dillon Rogers, Joe Baxter-Webb

Bladerunner-esque interrogation of an android accused of killing its owner, a one-room game about choice and dialogue. It’s complicated though. It was an assisted suicide. How you proceed depends on your level of technoxenophobia. I like that I can be a total anti-android asshole or be nice and compassionate (I was nice, this is a pro-android column).

I like the simple mouse-only movement at the beginning and the moody blue palette.

[SPOILERS] A neat bit of editing at the end, if you choose to use the gun: the camera pans up through the whirling fan blades to disguise the minimal and absent parts of the character model, positioning the gun in the correct place but using camera work to disguise the limitations (a trench coat draped over a chair), creating the illusion of an embodied detective, like a savvy piece of low-budget film making.

MY KINDNESS IS NOT AN INVITATION FOR YOU TO TOUCH ME by Arden Ripley

I ran an event recently for non-binary & female identified people where we shared experiences with misogyny. Being groped at cons was not an uncommon story. It happens all the time. It happened last GDC, it happened this GDC, it’s going to happen next GDC.

I’ve been horribly harassed in those spaces as well. Even among those with whom we are allied, our experiences can contradict the flurry of utopian social media, whether it’s at a conference, or any social gathering. In any space where a lot of people are having fun, there’s pressure to keep the party going by ignoring anyone having a bad time.

Anti-harassment codes on their own aren’t enough, because honestly, as human beings with squishy meat minds, it’s really stressful to react to situations like these. People say things like, “why didn’t you do anything” or “why didn’t you report it?”. Well, we second-guess ourselves, worry about ruining everyone else’s fun, get frozen with anxiety, get emotionally shut down when it triggers past bad experiences.

Beyond anti-harassment codes, we need a cultural understanding ingrained in people, which means changing the way we live and interact on a day-to-day basis. Rules are just words on paper, they need social energy to make them real, so that when something happens, people get the care they need. Otherwise they’ll turn into a magical being and destroy you in a beam of cosmic glitter.

Phone in Mouth by Leon Arnott

I was waiting for someone to make a game about the oralphone phenomenon. It’s good to have an insider’s view on what people describe alternatively as a fad or a vital development in community technologies. Like, the Verge’s article was really detailed, but it didn’t quite capture the human side that’s driven so many people to experiment with oralphoning.

Phone in Mouth doesn’t pretend to be anything but biased, it’s totally a romanticized take, but it’s hard to argue with the passionate descriptions. It makes typing look prudish. However, I disagree with those who compare it to a fetish. Oralphoning is primarily utilitarian. We may be “electrified” by a kiss or “galvanized” into action, but ultimately we think of electricity as the force that powers our homes and lights. In the same way I would suggest not getting swept up in sexual language surrounding oralphoning.

Like crypto-currency, I predict it will go from being a subject of mockery to opening up a conversation about the modern, highly connected world we live in. For many, that conversation has already begun.

Cat Show by NoxiousHamster

Cat Show is about pretending to be a cat to win a cat competition. Watch out for undercover cops and meow your way to the top! ;~D

Charge! by Jake Clover

The flow is mesmerizing. I’m just one soldier out of many. Throwing myself mindlessly to the slaughter. Die respawn die respawn.

I’m not a soldier. I’m water crashing against the shore. I’m erosion.

I’m fighting for patches of land that take 5 seconds to cross. I die so many times in spaces that take up a single screen. Each chokepoint is seared into my mind.

The landscape is glitchy strata, brown noise on pink noise. The background is stark black. We are some kind of dog ear peanut head creature? I love their little hands pumping at the air in frothing zealotry.

My limited verbs: move, jump, shoot, throw one of my three grenades. Skill doesn’t matter as much as luck, reaching the next checkpoint between some indecipherable spawn cadence. It’s a battle of statistics, not valor, which makes it more war-like than some game where you’re an invincible supersoldier protected by plot shielding.

When the war machines come, it’s so cruel and wonderful! Their lethal attacks are so sudden and unfair, but Charge! is allowed to be unfair because you are infinite, and the war machines will wear away under your plurality, and their burnt wreckage will remain, a persistent landscape of corpses both flesh and machine.

Jake explains some of the inspiration and design in Charge! here, like the GameMaker games he’s been inspired by: “I’ve come across a few games like skirmish on yoyogames in-which you play as one seemingly insignificant character amongst other identical ones travelling across the level.”

Charge! completely reverses the formula of mainstream gunshoots.

Instead of a scripted run through an environment of props that evaporate as you leave them behind, Charge! throws you into a messy sandbox where filthy battle-clutter builds up.

Instead of a supersoldier who solves combat like a puzzle (we delicately set up these enemies like a floral arrangement for your perusal, wouldn’t this be a great chance to try out your new sniper rifle), you’re an insignificant drone scampering through a haze of violence and confusion, conquering each hill by sheer stubbornness. It reminds me of Artūrs Grebstelis’s shmup Zero, how making death super-trivial turns the violence into a hypnotic pattern that you overcome with your whole body.

 

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