Games For Humanity, Part 2

Continuing and concluding our round-up of PC games to show people who feel that all games are culturally worthless, or are otherwise entirely uninterested in them. Part One is here, and I do strongly suggest you read it before this one if you missed it.

Please allow me to reiterate a few key points before reading on:

  • By and large these are PC games which require little gaming experience. Ones which do have been omitted. There is a great deal of grey area here, inevitably.
  • This is not a definitive list. Nothing has been maliciously omitted. There are many, many other suitable PC games. Please recommend them in comments below.
  • These are not necessarily the ‘best’ PC games, and nor are they inherently better than games about action and fantasy. This feature is simply to show the other side of the coin to people who may not have realised there was one.
  • This article and its comments are intended to be a resource, and not a springboard for arguments about what is and is not a game, or to raise controversies about the games’ creators. Comments will be heavily moderated with this in mind.

Grow

(free)

The Grow series of games are tiny toyboxes from playful Japanese developer ‘On’. Puzzles, essentially, but their joy is more in seeing the surprising and eleborate animations that result when a button is pushed than in solutions. Nothing more than simple clicking is required; it’s like visiting a wonderful museum of the imagination. Grow games will make you feel better about almost anything.

Fate Of The World

(Paid)

One of relatively few ‘serious’ games which have crossed over to the mainstream, Fate Of The World is a digital card game about enacting global policies in the hope of averting climate disaster. This is hard to achieve even with FoW’s fictionalised global taskorce – the repercussions of fiddling with nations’ economies and diet are potentially disastrous. Meticulously-researched, what makes Fate of the World so terrifyingly effective is that it swiftly reveals how little most of us truly know about what’s currently happening to the planet, the reasons for it and the paucity and complexity of solutions. As a game, it’s straightforward – play a card, essentially – but as a strategy for saving the planet, it requires paying close attention, and being receptive to new scientific knowledge.

10 Seconds In Hell

(free)

Warning: themes of domestic violence.

Take away faces. Take away names. Take away human voices. Leave something absolutely chilling.

10 Seconds In Hell is a browser-based game which lasts less than a minute, but that’s all it needs to convey the horror and seeming hopelessness of an abusive relationship. You’re stuck in a room, and you have ten seconds before your violent partner enters it too. What are your options?

It’s perhaps most effective gone into without much explanation, but if you do please bear in mind that it’s included here to demonstrate that games can deal with difficult subject matters, not as an entertainment product.

Shelter

(paid)

A game about badgers is very much a game for humanity, it turns out. Shelter is about caring for your young. Shelter is about the raw fears of being a parent, how it feels when you can’t provide food or safety, how it feels when things out of your control go wrong but it’s somehow on you to make them right. Shelter is about badgers, but most of all it’s about caring.

Lest this sound too doomy, it should be stated that Shelter is also a very pretty game which finds an appealing middleground between cute and authentic animal behaviour. The baby badgers’ snuffles and squeaks are almost impossible to resist. The game is also gentle and allows exploration, despite the potential for heartbreak.

Actual Sunlight

(paid)

Warning: themes of suicide.

A dialogue-heavy game about depression and suicide, so brace yourself for dark subject matter, but it should also be noted that Actual Sunlight is so very unsentimental that it can be difficult to connect with its protagonist. It is, however, a painstaking document of the paralysis, self-loathing and long-term destruction that depression can cause. Simple and traditional gaming objectives – click on items or people to explore an effect – result in crushing flashbacks and partial explanations as to the protagonist’s condition. The conclusion is inexorable. ‘Unflinching’ is probably the appropriate adjective here, and with that in mind, please be warned that Actual Sunlight deliberately does not attempt to offer hope.

Sid Meier’s Civilization V

(paid)

I’m in two minds about this one. On the one hand, this historical turn-based strategy game is a fine demonstration of breadth and depth, with its thoughtfully potted history of human existence. On the other, despite a simple start – click to found a city, choose what to build and what to research – it’s not long before you’re juggling a couple of dozen balls at once, as your Civilization expands to multiple cities and encounters multiple AI-controlled opponents with their own agendas. Fortunately the turn-based nature of the game means you’re always free to make decisions in your own time: no turn ends until you say it does. To some (abstract) degree, it’s extremely slow-motion and far more elaborate chess. Fascinating, intelligent and compulsive, and a fine, non-threatening way to experiment with more elaborate games, but requires relatively long-term investment.

Blueberry Garden

(paid)

‘Platformers’ are perhaps the archetypical form of gaming, at least from a relative outsider’s point of view. Think Super Mario, think jumping over obstacles and onto enemies’ heads, think collecting coins and increasing difficulty whenever you enter a new area. Blueberry garden subverts that. It contains the same base elements – jumping and collecting – but presents them within a freeform playground. Wander around, jump around, pick things up, take them to other things, see what happens, and most of all don’t worry about anything going wrong. This is your place. You’ll create your own, wordless objectives as you play. Its unusual Scandinavian art style and skeletal piano soundtrack plays a large part in adding to the sense of wonder and no-pressure experimentation.

Dsy4ia

(free)

A short story about the before, during and after of hormone replacement therapy, but it evokes the confusion, fear, doubt and societal suspicion because it uses the visual language of games. The faceless enemies who spit attacks. The Tetris shape which won’t seem to fit into anything else. The maze of bureaucracy. The words can be minimal because the screen says just as much.

To The Moon

(paid)

An adventure game – which generally means a fixed story progressed by solving leftfield puzzles – concerning the invention of a technology which can plant memories in people’s minds. For instance, giving a man on his deathbed the memory of having visited the moon, in order to grant his dying wish. From this high concept To The Moon spins a beautifully-told but often devastating yarn about loss, old age, mental health, and relationships. The simple, cute art style belies the power here.

Unmanned

(free)

The title refers to US military drones, of which you play a remote pilot. Browser game Unmanned grants you access to the thoughts that drift through his brain, and shows the strange mundanity with which he often sees such a destructive and controversial role. His ostensible concerns are his day-to-day to life – shaving, commuting, family, flirting – not what’s happening on the other side of the world as a result of his actions. But it creeps in. Of course it creeps in. Your own role here is primarily to pick dialogue options and make a few essentially moral choices, shaping what sort of character this drone pilot is, gradually deciding if he’s heroic, monstrous, or deeply messed up by what he does for a living. Clearly, there will be consequences.

Change

(free)

Continuing the military theme, this is illustrated ‘interactive fiction’ which places you in the role of an American shooter on duty in the Middle East. You only know how to shoot, at least at first. As you choose actions more options open up – for instance hear, warn, calm – and you can apply to this to the various other characters, both to see their effects, and to gradually unravel a fractured narrative about a fractured mind. When you only know how to shoot, terrible things will happen to you. Harrowing and political.

Papo & Yo

(paid)

I must confess that I’ve not played this myself, but enough people have recommended it that I’m (cautiously) including it here. A platform (i.e. jumping) game with puzzles about a young boy and his pet rhino-dog, Papo & Yo might sound like the setup for a Saturday morning cartoon, but it swiftly becomes a parable for a father-son relationship and what happens when that turns bad. How does trust and dependency remain when that trust has been violated? Is there a way back? It is also a beautiful game, one of those rare instances of a sizeable budget being granted to a deeply personal project. Just as a proviso: reportedly some of the jumping and puzzling can become frustrating even for seasoned game-players.

Cart Life

(free)

A game about life on the breadline. When games deal with money, usually that entails a race to the top, but Cart Life is purely about survival. You run a food stall, for which you must buy and prepare products with the hope of selling them for a small profit. While this grind does mean there’s no small amount of misery, Cart Life also concerns itself with friendships, and offers appealing people depicted in a halfway house between animation and documentary. This human contact is the virtue to pursue above and beyond the almighty dollar.

Minecraft / MinecraftEdu

(paid)

The biggest game in the world is the biggest game in the world for a very good reason. It’s accessible, it’s instantly rewarding, and it’s all about imagination rather than a power-fantasy. Click to mine. Click to build. Build whatever you want. No wonder a generation of kids are obessed with it – it’s infinite Lego, and they can collaborate with their friends too. This by no means makes it a childish game, though if you really are resistant to the simple charms of freeform building for freeform building’s sake then Minecraft won’t be for you. If nothing else, it’s well worth taking a couple of hours to get a first-hand sense of a genuine cultural phenomenon.

Also worth investigating is education-orientated spin-off MinecraftEdu. It’s a modified version of the game designed with teaching in mind. Clearly it works better in a classroom than at home, but digging into it is a great way of understanding how games’ essential interactivity can very much have a higher calling than pure hedonism (which is not to malign pure hedonism, of course).

59 Comments

Top comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    Aerothorn says:

    Adam - the Cart Life link is busted (and there are reasons for this, but none that I can speak of). I am *told* that it was released open source and many of the existing bugs were patched, but I'm not sure where that is housed, if anywhere. I'm pretty sure it's not Github, sadly.

    I will drop you an an email (and comment here) if I ever dig it up.


    EDIT: Here's the original full release: https://www.dropbox.com/s/bj25y1b43pb8115/cartlife_1-6.zip

    And here's the source code: https://www.dropbox.com/s/v2uu2cdonh3swxz/cartlife_opensores.zip

    Despite appearances this is not piracy, Richard released it for free intentionally, but then other factors caused the blog entry detailing this (and the web site hosting it) to get blown up.
  1. Stellar Duck says:

    All good games but I’d have suggested adding that one where you play as some random person somewhere and have to live that life. I can’t recall the name but I do know I got stupidly attached to the Indian woman I played.

    Edit: it’s called Real Lives.

  2. Michael Fogg says:

    but humanity sucks, in general. why give them games?

    • trollomat says:

      So they get distracted from looking after their planet and vanish sooner.

  3. J-Force says:

    I’m suprised Spec Ops: The Line, The Stanley Parable or Kerbal Space Program have not yet made it onto this list yet.

    Spec Ops forces you to experience the more chilling aspects of being a soldier. If the aim with these games is to take someone who views the industry as being full of Call of Duty and GTA titles and get them to realise how wrong they are Spec Ops is a great game to use. It is a generic FPS that throws several emotional curveballs at you as the ‘these games are just about killing’ falls to pieces as you must make tricky ethical decisions as your squad delves into some morally questionable conduct – but I won’t spoil anything.

    The Stanley Parable is, for experienced gamers such as most of the people here, a hilarious satire of the gaming industry based around the failure state of a video game. For someone new it is a surreal experience in which you have too much choice and find yourself genuinly following the directions of the narrator even though you clearly don’t have to. It is one of very few games that makes a person, especially someone who does not really ‘get’ video games, think about the nature of choice and the flexability of thier will.

    Kerbal Space Program is, as a forum poster there calls it, a game where you take funny frog like creatures and chuck them into space. Except it has a steep learning curve – that of learning orbital physics. I was in a conversation with another friend who plays KSP in which we discussed the merits of the FAR mod when aerobraking when another friend (who does physics A-Level) made a remark on how we gained a good grasp of orbital mechanics without ever taking physics, mechanics or having any training whatsoever. It is because of KSP that the phrase ‘It’s not rocket science’ does not appear in my life. KSP will teach you to be a rocket scientist – it needs to be on this list. Though it may ruin sci-fi films for thier innacuracy.

    There are my suggestions with a few thoughts thrown in.

    • Umberto Bongo says:

      The Stanley Parable relies on your previous knowledge of games and gaming tropes though. You have to be at least fairly fluent in the language and conventions of video games to ‘get’ it. Personally I couldn’t think of a less suitable game.

      • J-Force says:

        That is what I thought until I got somone without such knowledge to actually play it. It misses the humour for obvious reasons but highlights the theme of free will that is used by the game from start to finish, which is why I now view it as great for newcomers. It also gets funnier the more games they play, which is a bonus for them I suppose.

        • Synesthesia says:

          Ha, i had this exact same conversation last games for humanity post. I think in some ways, it’s great for newcomers too.

    • Skull says:

      I am sorry to have to disagree with your suggestions. They are all far too “gamey” and I feel the point of the article is to pick out games which hit outside their genre and push boundaries. I am not saying the games you pick out are bad (except for Spec Ops but I will come to that) but they are more games for gamers rather than the general public.

      Let’s start with Spec Ops, it has got some clever undertones and moral ambiguity but it falls flat on its face by being another “gun game”. Remember, most people aren’t as desensitised to violence as we are and this is a very horrific game. It also ruins the message it wants to get across with very standard cover shooting and it all gets boring and tedious fast. The game also has a ridiculous plot and thinks it is way too smart when it is just some rubbish about terrorists taking over Dubai. This makes as much sense as Koreans taking over North America, it is far fetched and the whole game is a lot of nonsense. I would recommend this game to my CoD bro mates as a way to ease them into a similar game with a (semi) intelligent message (for the genre). I would never give it to my mum.

      The Stanley Parable is hilarious but that is all it has going for it. The above poster already mentioned the jokes will fall flat for anyone who doesn’t game and I can see it confusing a lot of people. It would be an interesting experiment to sit non-gamers next to gamers and monitor if they follow the instructions but I feel, in the eyes of the non-gamer, it just won’t grab them and besides, it is the repeat plays that hold the real interest. If you want a funny game to recommend to non-gamers, I would recommend Jazzpunk. The jokes can also be very centric around games (although classic ones rather than mechanics) but because it is firing out jokes like a Gatling gun, something is bound to hit.

      Kerbal Space Program… this is an amazing game and one I would not hesitate to give to someone with a love of physics or rocket science. However, the game, at least in its current Alpha form, is not ready for consumption and requires a hell of a lot of time investment to understand how it all works (from your average persons view). OK, I haven’t played it since very early alpha so correct me if I am wrong, there were no tutorials and I had to resort to YouTube videos to learn how it all works. An amazingly clever game but work needs to be done to it before I can encourage others to try it out.

      • J-Force says:

        Some fair comments. I will point out that KSP is soon entering a sort of Beta, what the devs call ‘Scope Complete’ – which means tutorials and the basics are now easy to pick up, but progress from that point teaches you the physics.

        With regard to Spec Ops I agree that it is not a game I would give to my mum. It is a game I would give to someone who views games as culturally insignificant. It is designed for someone who looks down on war themed games. The trailers showed people jumping from smoking helicopters and all the usual tropes of the FPS genre and some of the early game is geared toward that, enough for the target of this post to go ‘Aha! I was justified!’ at which point the morality element kicks in at which point the game forces the player to reconsider thier morality all because of a few pixels. I am yet to find a good book that does that, maybe I’m just fussy. Therefore Spec Ops is definitly not a game to give to a newcomer, but to someone who argues that games have no cultural value, someone who can handle fifteen minutes of cover shooting but sees it as a total waste of time. The decisions in the game make it worthwhile.

        I never said Spec Ops’ plot was well written – it just isn’t, but the game is good for showing someone who looks down on the FPS genre just how wrong they can be.

        Stanley Parable takes on a new meaning without gaming experience. Get a friend to play it blind, it will confuse them, but also make them think, making it a game worthy of the list in my opinion.

      • hotmaildidntwork says:

        It has a semi-robust set of tutorials now, and a more goal oriented experience is available from the adolescent campaign mode. Depending on how early you were in, you may also be unaware of the incredibly powerful maneuver node system that allows you to plan your course changes in advance and see what effect they would have. I’d say that whether it’s appropriate for a non-game just depends on who it is. If they’re the sort that will accept repeated failure or look to the internet for help, then I think it’s a great way to get people interested in advanced mathematics.

  4. Premium User Badge

    gritz says:

    Fate of the World is the most depressing game I’ve ever played. It may be the most depressing media I’ve ever consumed.

    Whenever I hear about something terrible in the world, some looming crisis that no one seems to want to fix, I comfort myself with the thought that if I were in charge, it would get fixed.

    Fate of the World tells you that even a single all-powerful policymaker with the best of possible intentions still only has a fraction of a chance. And that even if he were to succeed, that world of survivors would look unrecognizable to the people of today.

    That’s not to say it’s a call for apathy, it’s just… too much reality to absorb easily.

    • Joshua Northey says:

      It is also a bit over the top which is too bad for a science based game.

      It is a cool game with an interesting design, but the assumptions about the future are overly dire in a wide variety of ways. Particularly the idea that X amount of warming will somehow directly lead to everyone dying. Certainly X amout of warming will be very expensive as infrastructure and settlements need to be relocated, and poor people the world over will suffer badly, as will many plants and animals. But there is really no chance society is going to fall apart due to climate change, and plants and animals “as a whole” will handle it just fine.

      • J-Force says:

        I have to say that Fate of the World is a great concept done very well but it falls down on the scientific front. It makes many assumptions about the future but does account for current attitudes. It does not accuratly allow shifts in global attitude to happen, which is the primary aim of most environment themed summits. In this way Fate of the World falls a little flat, other than that it more than deserves its place on this list.

        • Cinek says:

          “does account for current attitudes” – it actually doesn’t. It ignores plenty of studies, focusing mostly around these published in US while ago. Scientific consensus is… different than what this game tries to present, though yes: global warming we caused ourselves is going to screw us over.

    • Flavorfish says:

      I love Fate of the World and I’ve put at least 100 hours into the game modded, but it is damn near broken, unfinished, and seriously innacurate in vanilla. The policies don’t tell you what they do, their effects are often completely off the mark or sometimes simply don’t work. The interface is horrid, and the technological time is ridiculously pessimistic. (Fracking unlocked in 2020? 4th gen nuclear in 2070? Fusion and ai in the late 2100s???)

      Worst of all, the environmental and social model is totally warped. People remain resolutely opposed to action even when drought and biblical floods become the norm and geoengineering will randomly cause nuclear war!

      link to Www.forums.steampowered.com

      With that mod the game becomes so much better. (and because you know what you’re doing it becomes a bit easier too.)

      • ix says:

        I really bounced off off Fate of the World because of this. It was really hard to figure out what was going on at any one time. You have the illusion of data, but much of it is hard to interpret and (when it comes to population dynamics) not really there. It’s not really a very good game if you’re constantly wondering what effect your actions are having. Maybe it’s a great political statement, but I find a good political statement in games needs to come with a good game to be appreciated.

    • Monggerel says:

      Always found it hard to invest in fiction that tries to get at my feelings by dramatizing some cataclysmic ruin of man.

      Who the fuck cares?

  5. Konstantinos Dimopoulos says:

    OK, since Alec asked for recommendations I’ll have to go with The Sea Will Claim Everything (link to landsofdream.net) by Jonas and Verena Kyratzes. It is the only game I have ever played that actually made me a better person.

    • psepho says:

      I’d second this. The Sea Will Claim Everything is a beautiful game! Totally approachable and charming without being trite or lightweight.

      Also disappointed to see that Alec has again not included any of Porpentine’s twine games — madness! Several of them are deeply thoughtful and profoundly human.

    • StranaMente says:

      For some other Kyratzes’ related entertainement there’s always The Faboulous Screech that’s utterly marvellous and also free!
      No excuse not to try it.

  6. Joshua Northey says:

    Europa Universalis 2 is a tremendous way to teach people about that period of history due to all the scripted events. And many games in general are a wonderful way for people to learn geography or bits of history.

    • J-Force says:

      Total War: Medieval II springs to mind for this one, hundreds of words on almost each and every topic there is about medieval military and political history.

  7. Mitthrawn says:

    So the answer to people thinking that games are devoid of culture and irredeemably violent is to show them all games that are exceedingly depressing? I’m not sure it’s better to show them a slew of games about suicide, domestic abuse, and apocalyptic climate change, especially new gamers.

    Not Funny Note: I was looking up That Dragon Cancer, as it would fit in with this depressing list, then I read that it was a timed Ouya exclusive.

    Then I read that Joel, the young man the game is based on, is dead.

    I don’t have any words after that.

    • klops says:

      Games can deal with difficult and scary (not “Boo” scary) themes and make us think about them.

      • J-Force says:

        That is not so much a problem with the list but with media in general. We are only really moved by something when we are emotionally invested and we are only emotionally invested when we fear losing the item of investment. In the case of 10 Seconds in Hell that item is our sense of safety and security, in Spec Ops: The Line it is the morality we have built up over our lives. Games that make you sad are just better at being art than something that makes you happy. Minecraft and KSP being wonderful exceptions.

        • itsbenderingtime says:

          I believe you have your causes and effects mixed up. The fear of losing something important is a consequence of being emotionally invested in it, not the cause of that investment.And no, sad things are not “better” at being art than happy things, which you prove by giving to glaring counterexamples.

          My take on this is that it’s easier to manipulate someone into being sad than it is to manipulate them into being happy (and making someone angry is the easiest manipulation of all) , so that’s why sad art seems more effective. Also, that’s why you should be cautious around things that try to make you angry or sad.

    • Kala says:

      “So the answer to people thinking that games are devoid of culture and irredeemably violent is to show them all games that are exceedingly depressing? I’m not sure it’s better to show them a slew of games about suicide, domestic abuse, and apocalyptic climate change, especially new gamers.”

      Yeah. Showing them games that have non-typical themes and approaches, dealing with ‘serious’ subject matter instead of more familiar hero quests or adolescent power trips, does provide an answer to thinking games are devoid of culture.

      (Though, in fairness, there’s plenty of other things Alec has included, like the Sims, Civ or Minecraft).

      “Not Funny Note: I was looking up That Dragon Cancer, as it would fit in with this depressing list, then I read that it was a timed Ouya exclusive.

      Then I read that Joel, the young man the game is based on, is dead.

      I don’t have any words after that.”

      It very much fits in with the list. (link to rockpapershotgun.com)

      Not because it’s depressing (though it certainly is very, very sad) but because it’s using a video game to show people what living with their terminal baby boy was like; allowing people into their world, telling their story by literally putting people into that position in narrative terms (and also functions as a memorial to their son, sharing his life with others). Which, being such a serious topic, is not something people would think games could do.

      But they could; of course they could. Games can uniquely make the player experience a reality and explore a world. Why shouldn’t the world depicted be the one inside the minds of parents struggling to cope with the realities of losing their son instead of some big titted gun toting fantasy land?

  8. jeel says:

    I’d really strongly recommend Unrest. Nominally an RPG set in a fantasy analogue of ancient India, you control characters from a variety of perspectives with a variety of aims over a series of vignettes and watch the overall situation change on the basis of their activity. Extremely well-written and presented, and extremely intuitive.

    I think basically everyone should play A Mind Forever Voyaging as well. It’s old, but there are z-machine interpreters everywhere these days.

  9. ButtShovel says:

    The name of the game is Papo & Yo, not “Papa & Yo” as evidenced by the link in the article.

  10. Xantonze says:

    Jazzpunk!

  11. MashPotato says:

    I’d like to perhaps nominate Windowsill for the next installment. Just a lovely toybox :)

    • AXAXAXAS MLO II: MLO HARDER says:

      Windowsill is indeed super cute and super fun.

      • Premium User Badge

        Harlander says:

        You’ll need to play Windosill to cheer yourself up after some of the other games on this list.

  12. bill says:

    I meat to comment on the last post, but forgot. I like this idea. It’s nice to highlight some of the games that don’t tend to be noticed by those outside the gaming community.

    While they would likely be tricky for new players, I think Portal and Broad would be reasonably interesting introductions too. Both introduce their mechanics relatively slowly, and both have intriguing mechanics that can grab you and make you want to experiment. They both also have good presentation and get you to think about space and time.

    They don’t get covered here, but it’s also worth pointing out that there are a huge range of educational games for kids. Whether commercial games such as Dora the Explorer adventure games, or simply the massive range of web games such as the ones at sesamestreet.org or cbeebies.
    Over the last 24 hours my daughter went from randomly running around a maze being confused to switching between the map view and the maze view, planning her route, and dropping stones to be able to find her way back. And she figured that all out herself. And she’s 4.

  13. Premium User Badge

    Risingson says:

    “To the moon” was the point that I felt alienated with RPS about what intelligent and profound games are. I found it very dumb, and really insulting in its manipulation and its aims to put the finger inside your eye to make you cry. It is the “Love Story” of the PC gaming.

    It has been a lottery after that. It is a lottery because I barely found people that can see how other games, like “The Cat Lady”, are really sensitive, intelligent, smart and, yes, arty, (everything in that game talks about the character) and they are put in the same sack. And you never know by the very vague descriptions that talk about everything but the game.

    • Monggerel says:

      What we cannot talk about, we must pass over in silence.
      Ludwig Wittgenstein said that, and I’d say he knows a little bit more about talking than you do pal, because he invented it!

      imrealysorryimadeeverythingawkward
      *mumble*
      *exit left*

    • Kala says:

      I haven’t played To the Moon; but I do want to, as a friend recommended it as it did affect him emotionally.

      Though…your first sentences are sentiments I’ve seen expressed about many other games; particularly Gone Home. And the point seems to be “[x] person said this about [y] game, but I don’t see it, so I think [x] must be wrong (or stronger adjective).” It’s fine, of course, to have a differing opinion about things. But ‘alienated’ by other peoples opinions seems a bit strong.

  14. Monggerel says:

    Don’t forget kids: that horrible, hateful being of a protagonist in Actual Sunlight is not worthy of your sympathy! We don’t talk to people like him for a reason. They just wanna bring you down with ’em.

    So yeah. Evan clicked with me pretty much immediately. Clever, funny, awful, crushed, stupid and utterly lost. I loved him so much and I was pretty fucking heartbroken (and not in any way surprised) at the conclusion.
    Bastard child of false promises. What kept you going I wonder.
    Maybe it really was just the wind.

  15. Frank says:

    Yay for Unmanned. But really, I’d make this list entirely Molleindustria… plus maybe Shelter.

  16. shoptroll says:

    I know The Sims 3 made the list, but none of the SimCity games? :(

  17. Premium User Badge

    Skabooga says:

    I’d recommend Botanicula by Amanita Studios as a good beginner’s game. It’s beautiful to look and listen to, it’s easy enough to interact with (really just pointing at objects onscreen and clicking on them, although there are some basic, mostly intuitive puzzles to solve), and it rewards experimentation without ever punishing it. The game just communicates pure joy.

    • .backslash says:

      Definitely. Machinarium would be fine as well, though maybe as a follow-up for a new player, as its puzzles are a bit more complicated and require that the player is more familiar with point-and-click concepts. Also, when talking about adventure games, the Longest Journey always deserves a mention.

      Also, DEFCON. It’s as much a minimalistic strategy game as it is an interactive art piece about war.

  18. Premium User Badge

    Aerothorn says:

    Adam – the Cart Life link is busted (and there are reasons for this, but none that I can speak of). I am *told* that it was released open source and many of the existing bugs were patched, but I’m not sure where that is housed, if anywhere. I’m pretty sure it’s not Github, sadly.

    I will drop you an an email (and comment here) if I ever dig it up.

    EDIT: Here’s the original full release: link to dropbox.com

    And here’s the source code: link to dropbox.com

    Despite appearances this is not piracy, Richard released it for free intentionally, but then other factors caused the blog entry detailing this (and the web site hosting it) to get blown up.

    • elderman says:

      Aerothorn: thank you for posting those links. I was disappointed not to find a git repository of the game, but looking at the license, I guess that’s because of the music and fonts.

      • Premium User Badge

        Aerothorn says:

        That’s correct – all the music is licensed (for free, thanks to the generosity of the artists) but that license never included releasing it for free to all and sundry as an individual track, and it end up to prove impossible to track down all the artists a second time a few years later :(

  19. Bluebeardy says:

    Thx for all the games-references.

    I´m missing one game which bears deeply upon humanity: EIDOLON.
    link to icewatergames.com

    it´s very easy to play, beautiful landscapes with a really big map – and one is feeling very lost not meeting any human being in this world

    ….but you can discover humanity in the different stories of behaviour after the Big Deseasters people had created.

    I´m an old gamer >60 years and I very much regret the lack of attention to this game.

    • Premium User Badge

      Harlander says:

      Eidolon’s really presented in a delightful fashion. It could use a little bit of tuning – there’s periods of far-too-long trudging about with that incessant, maddening footstep sound – but definitely worth a look.

  20. Kala says:

    Yay, Shelter’s on the list :)

    10 Seconds In Hell sounds like an interesting concept, will check it out.

  21. Bury The Hammer says:

    These games seem mostly focused on introducing people to games by giving them a game with a strong narrative structure, similar to other media. It’s a different approach to me – when talking about games with my non-gaming friends (typically people at work), I often bring up two separate things:

    – Horror games have advanced significantly in recent years and are (in my opinion) more effectively scary than horror movies, because the user has both the power to control the outcome and will be punished (if only in their invested time) for failure.

    – Games such as Starcraft, Hearthstone, League of Legends are becoming incredibly competitive to the point of becoming sports. Starcraft is already the unofficial ‘sport’ culturally in South Korea. Unlike sports though, the rules of videogames can adapt to the metagame amongst the community and rebalance.

    Not that I would recommend a non-gamer play Starcraft to ‘get’ games, though Hearthstone may be accessible. I think a good horror game like Amnesia (or even watching youtube videos of people playing it) would show non-gamers what videogames can achieve that other media can’t.

    • Kala says:

      I’m not sure if it counts as a ‘horror game’ but The Moon Sliver creeped me out a wee bit. It used atmosphere pretty well, creepy sounds and lights going out. The ‘end’ (or bit just before the end) genuinely made me jump.

      link to rockpapershotgun.com

  22. padger says:

    I’m making my mum play some of these. If she hates me afterwards, then it’s on Alec.

  23. ivanfyodor says:

    It’s a shame the latest simcity was a bust, but I do feel like simcity4 should be on here. I learned a lot about basic city design from those games (basic for sure, but still). Just last week I had the great opportunity to explain to my mom what water towers are for in real life, which I learned from the simcity games.

  24. YukioT says:

    I would have seen Plague Inc. as well around. Its realistic approach of possible real life scenario is really cool and informative.

    Speaking of ebola, I’ll be going to Greenland.

    • Kala says:

      Madagascar and Iceland thwart me more often than not -.-;

      Them Icelandic are pretty quick to close their borders and start executing infected people ;p