Unsolicited: Play Papers, Please Creator’s Nightmarish Junk Mail Game

Sweepstakes letters, credit offers, charitable donation requests, timeshare invitations… I’ve been diligently filling in form letters on behalf of each and every one of these companies as part of Lucas Pope’s new paperwork project, Unsolicited [official site].

The Papers, Please creator submitted the game as part of the Ludum Dare game jam. The theme was “You Are The Monster” and it’s a horrible-but-great experience in which you help send unsolicited mail.

Part of me is desperate to get all of those letters correctly filled out and sent each shift – just one more bit of junk mail! – and part of me hates that I’m even doing this in a game. Each of the blank fields in the letters must have the correct information, but it’s in a slightly different format in the drop-down menus than it is in your company data so there are lots of little moments where you do quick conversions of dates or need to seek out a name in both a surname alphabetised list and a first name alphabetised list.

I also started to worry I might be even worse than Pope’s vision of the player monster because I’m sitting here going “BUT WE COULD JUST FORMAT THE DATA CORRECTLY AND THEN USE MAIL MERGE AND REACH THOUSANDS”.

Thing is, the game has just become something else. Something darker. I won’t spoil it for you but I will say it’s in keeping with previous work.

You can play it free of charge online if you fancy.

13 Comments

  1. Neutrino says:

    I’m sure this guy is trying to work out how to create a botnet of actual people playing his games.

  2. Shazbut says:

    Man, he’s so good. He has such a unique style of making games.

  3. hjdoom says:

    A fascinating experience, albeit a more relaxed one than Papers Please. For me, Unsolicited highlights the banality of evil and the sense that colossal evil can be an aggregate of lots of tiny actions. Despite not being much of a game in the conventional sense it did make me think a lot, which is more than the four hours I spent playing WoW this morning did.

  4. Synesthesia says:

    Damn. That was pretty good. This guy is seriously talented.

  5. vorador says:

    Man, this guy is good. To manage to make something interesting out of such a banal task.

  6. ldgonza says:

    Occasionally you’re sending credit offers to the “Jensen” family. I’m sure they never asked for it.

  7. TechnicalBen says:

    It’s funny, because it’s relevant to me.

    I’m getting 5 calls a day from fake ppi claims, and unsolicited “insurance” claim calls (they must have registered to a semi-public database and nabbed my details).

    So, I’m really tempted to give them the same treatment as in this game/article. I’ll let them know, they can stop being a monster.

    Next call and I’m telling them: “Look just in front of you. In your office. There is a door. A door to freedom. You don’t have to do this you know. Call people like me, innocent bystanders, just wanting to get on with their day. Keep feeling bad when you nab someone’s bank account, trick them into paying “fees” for a zero use service? You can stop that. You can stop the guilt. Just stand up. Take a stand. The door, run for it. Go for freedom. Get a real job, get a life. Save a life, and quit this call centre/spam mail job… you can do it!”

    Should be better than the usual tosh they spout out trying to get your bank details for the “utility service for your property dear Sir”.

    • Press X to Gary Busey says:

      That sounds horrible. >_>
      In Sweden we have the “NIX register” where we can list addresses and phone numbers if we don’t want that stuff. Companies have to check it before making calls or sending mail. It’s maintained by their own trade associations so it’s pretty obvious if the calls and letters are serious or not.

  8. Serrit says:

    Enjoyed that, even though as you say Pip it takes a slightly darker tone if you stick it out!
    I felt churlish for thinking “man those names, dates, and times are much harder to read than for the other stuff…!”

    • Thirith says:

      Can someone spoil the way the game develops? Or at least say how long it takes for it to become darker? I like the concept, but I very much didn’t like playing it from very early on.

      • hjdoom says:

        It took me about half an hour to see everything the game had to offer. If you want a spoiler, it doesn’t massively matter how well you do at the letter sending tasks.

  9. alms says:

    Republia Times was seriously awesome so I’m going out of my way to make sure my brain remembers to play this.

  10. Havalynii says:

    We’re going to eventually find out that we’re just like Ender in Ender’s Game…what we thought was a simulation was actually helping. Which makes me feel horrible about that guy blowing up outside my checkpoint.