Free Loaders: Hiring Ladies Is OK

This week I am broadcasting from an internet café deep on the Costa Rican beachfront. There is a dog here, of unrecognisable breed, which is growling and whining at something intangible, perhaps its own existence. Although the free games explosions of recent weeks, attributed to the Global Game Jam, have been a testing time for us all, I want you to know that I am safe and will continue my correspondence in exile with as much verve and courage as would be expected in the smoggy heart of London, where I am told my ghost still lingers, like a stench on the wind.

Two Interviewees by Mauro Vanetti & Emanuele Klemp

Quick job interview from two simultaneous perspectives. One candidate is a woman and one is a man, but each choice you make will apply to both. The employers reaction ought to be the same, right? MESSAGE ALERT. THERE IS A MESSAGE HERE. I HOPE YOU GET THE MESSAGE.

Skorpulac by aarkipel

Spear-wielding jump ‘n’ stab of the elder schools. Five levels of laser avoidance and frog-murdering. Like a miniturised Metroid where Samus’ suit has no batteries and she is forced to poke all her foes with a sharp stick. The shifting surfaces and patrolling baddies are straight from platforming 101 but the download also includes a PDF manual with a list of the enemy types all rendered in some unknown alien tongue, a cheeky reference to the good old days of reading about the different devils you would be facing once your bus got back from the game shop.

1 Tera Toaster by Ivan Notaros & Slobodan Stevic

The trials and tribulations of an intergalactic toaster salesman. You are on a mission to sell one trillion toasters. You can only do this by selling in bulk to whole populations but the cultures of each planet are not all alike, and they will not tolerate rudeness or even miscommunication. For each people you have to do a unique greeting of dancing and waving, sometimes wearing certain clothes, sometimes holding particular trinkets, swapping skulls for hammers mid-dance. Do it correctly and the people will cut a deal, purchasing billions of your machines and helping you grow your toast empire. Sometimes you will even get a trinket, opening up more cultures to exploitation. But enact the greeting in the wrong way and they will fire lasers at you, banish you from the planet and tell all their neighbours how horrible you are.

Shabby Home Designer by tdlk

Student lifestyle throwback complete with second-hand cathode ray televison and “friends”. Expand or shrink your room with the arrow keys, cycle through the items with WASD. As you can see from the above screenshot I have recreated my first-year dormitory, complete with some of the other warm bodies which inhabited it. What kind of wonderful abode will you create? A garbage-infested bedsit? A laptop paradise? A beanbag boudoir? The possibilities are only as limited as your imagination! But also they are limited by the furniture.

Dungeon Decorator by Loren Schmidt

More map-editing madness this time in a dank, spritey dungeon. A whole level is open to creation, press ‘M’ to zoom in and out of individual screens, weave tunnels full of skulls, hang vines and chains from the ceiling, erect imposing stone pillars in endless corridors, and enscribe ominous warnings on signposts for your dungeon crawlers. When you are satisfied, click the play button to wander around and test it out.  You can save your dungeon offline or share it over the Twitterbook. The dungeon master of dungeon masters, Loren Schmidt, who you may remember from previous editions of Free Loaders, says that this is early days. We are told a more complete version, with text tools, new characters and sprite editing, will come out ‘soon™’

Lake Poisonknee by Ellen Cunningham

Don’t go to Lake Poisonknee.

d∙i∙v∙i∙n∙e∙r by videodante and the Kartridge Family

Consult the diviner by offering three items. A cigarette, a playing card and a stack of coins informed me that I was fluent in greed, which is true. I grew up bilingual. Essentially a small poetry generator, but a stylish and portentious one at that. The candles flicker, the offering flames burn, and the diviner hovers over everything like a vulture.

Truce by Secret_Tunnel

A wise man once said: “When two tribes go to war, one point is all that you can score.” That seems to be the thinking behind Truce. A vignette about distrust and old grudges. Against the backdrop of a fictional war you have to dig your way underneath the enemy in the middle of some peace talks and plant a bomb beneath their feet. But as the generals above keep talking, the plan begins to crumble. Is peace possible? I just don’t know. I wish Frankie Goes To Hollywood was here to tell us.

Death’s Life by Umbu Games

Trial and error murder simulator. You play death’s assistant and must arrange items around a room so that a chain reaction will occur, causing the room’s eventual occupant to die horrendously. Manipulate knives so they hang on the edge of a table, cause “accidental” chemical reactions in a laboratory, and rearrange a mechanic’s workshop into a deadly Rube Goldgerb machine. It’s like being the unseen antagonist of the Final Destination franchise, except none of these people deserve to die.

Have you made a cool game for zero dollah? Let @Brendy_C know on the Twitterbook. Need more free games? Check our list of 50 best free games on PC.

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84 Comments

Top comments

  1. Rich says:

    "I could just as easily make a game where an egg sings a song about pudding. What would that prove?"

    Dizzy: The Musical
  1. Jediben says:

    Elegant and pretty is trumped by (gay?) In terms of equality and inclusiveness. Remember there are quotas to be filled!

    • Jediben says:

      I’ve ‘played’ it half a dozen times trying to figure out why exactly anyone would give money for this. There is no reason, it’s ridiculous to ask. This is little better than a poorly drawn placard on a protest March.

      • maurovanetti says:

        «I’ve ‘played’ it half a dozen times trying to figure out why exactly anyone would give money for this.»

        Nobody should. It’s a free not-for-profit game, whose purpose is to have people play it “half a dozen times”. :-)

        I’m getting several donations nevertheless that I’m spending back on promoting the game.

  2. onionman says:

    Chiming in here to say “Two Interviewees” is barely a game–no, I take it back, it isn’t a game, the interaction is minimal to the point of being practically nonexistent. I mean, look, it you want to talk about double standards in hiring, go for it, but the “game” is one-note and only manages to preach to the choir.

    I could just as easily make a game where I am an HR manager tasked with making my workforce more “diverse” and forced to hire a less qualified minority over a more qualified straight white man. I’m sure that would get front page coverage on this website.

    • Beefenstein says:

      “I could just as easily make a game where I am an HR manager tasked with making my workforce more “diverse” and forced to hire a less qualified minority over a more qualified straight white man.”

      I could just as easily make a game where an egg sings a song about pudding. What would that prove?

      • Rich says:

        “I could just as easily make a game where an egg sings a song about pudding. What would that prove?”

        Dizzy: The Musical

      • maurovanetti says:

        «I could just as easily make a game where an egg sings a song about pudding. What would that prove?»

        Beefenstein, you spoiled the theme of my next game…! :-(

        BTW, I am in a dilemma here. Should games “prove” something or, according to another user’s complaint, should they try not to be too patronising? You can’t have both and in my opinion my game is already too didascalic.

        I thought that theorems/essays/statistics are meant to prove hypotheses, while games/stories/art are supposed to feed thought and/or emotions and/or connection between people.

        • rexx.sabotage says:

          you got this guy’s panties in a twist, consider emotions: evoked!

      • maninahat says:

        You could I suppose, but you’d be spreading a basic falsehood about affirmative action (that companies have to hire less qualified minorities to meet a quota – they don’t) and so the educational nature of the game would be lost and you’d have a shitty game.

        (I’m a HR recruiter type person. But also one that does care about equal opportunities.)

    • HuvaaKoodia says:

      You are right, it’s not a game. It’s interactive fiction WITH A MESSAGE!

      The problem is that the word game is nowadays used as a blanket term for all forms of interactive digital media. This is very confusing to many as the term game has a specific meaning rooted in thousands of years of traditional game design.

      The good news is that once we start getting more diverse interactive digital media new terms will start surfacing on their own as developers notice how limiting the term game is.

      As a historical precedent the word apple used to mean all sorts of fruit, but once the world of fruit expanded beyond a certain threshold people started calling new types of fruit with new names as it just made things easier.

      Now if you want to get a head start here are a few terms to consider:
      – Digital Game
      – Digital Puzzle
      – Digital Experience
      – Interactive Fiction
      – Interactive Simulation

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        gritz says:

        The limitations of the term “game” are only seen and discussed by the dreariest people in the world.

        • HuvaaKoodia says:

          If you’re not a developer, you probably don’t care, sure. But if you are a developer, think about it this way.

          How do you design something you have no specific definition for? Design requires knowledge of the limitations of your medium, among other things.

          • keenan.wulff says:

            So, a few things
            1. The meaning of a word is whatever it is commonly understood to be. If you would like the meaning of the word ‘game’ to change, that’s fine, but right now ‘video game’ is widely understood to be a cover-all for all interactive computer-based media. And I really don’t see how that’s a problem.
            2. I can see why you make the ‘limitations’ argument, but it seems that defining that a game must have x amount of systems to be a game is not only needlessly rigid, but also completely arbitrary. Currently the limitations of the media are that it is played on some sort of computer and is interactive. I think your counter argument would be that TV and movies are widely understood to be two separate types of media, but those two rose out of entirely different circumstances. As sequels increase and shows become more cinematic, the two forms are converging, and for what it’s worth, I see that as a good thing. TV shows no longer have to be constrained by what people used to think that they were constrained by, namely a low budget and different distribution negotiations. If they converge more-or-less completely, then I can’t say that that is a bad thing in any way.

            3. Newer ‘interactive fiction’-type games and more systems-based traditional games are now made (more or less) by the same people, with the same sorts of toolsets, and distributed on the same networks. You can make the argument that they’re of different genres, and I don’t think many would disagree with you, but by all means, they’re really, really close together. Maybe in the future, the blanket term will be something like ‘interactive media,’ and ‘video game’ will be a subset that is exclusionary of less system-based titles, and that will be fine, but trying to actively redefine a word is hard and almost never done. It seems right now, that the ‘not a video game’ moniker is used almost exclusively to discredit these types of games, and while I don’t think you’re trying to do that in this specific circumstance, the argument you’re trying to make is one that I think is effectually useless

          • HuvaaKoodia says:

            @keenan.wulff
            Good points! Here’s what I think about it from a developer’s view point:

            1. Words change, yes, but still every major language has regulatory committees in charge of keeping the baseline written form of the language, taught in schools, understandable and universal. Without such regulation there would be much more confusion in government and law, where specificity is important. Ordinary people will, of course, still use slang and exert the least amount of effort in their daily use of language.

            The problem in the case of the term “game”, as a slang term for all interactive digital media, is simply that of confusion and wasted time on trivialities such as what constitutes a game and what is a “non-game” (a term I dislike a lot). This happens both with critics and consumers alike, as you most certainly have seen on many forums, including this one. And yes, I’m putting a lot of time into writing this as well, but for me discussions like these are very helpful.

            2. The definition of a game is very easy to objectively derive in a specific, not at all arbitrary, way. All you need to do is to look at a bunch of non-digital games and see which faculties they share. For instance, what is shared between chess, badminton and poker?

            – A system based on rules
            – Players
            – A win condition and a lose condition
            – Interactions which irreversible change the state of the system
            – Decisions the players can do to help them win

            These are the things you need. It’s not very complicated, but it is rather specific. Now, as a developer knowing these things is very useful in the field of game design. It’s even more useful if you want to create media which doesn’t fulfill these requirements. At that point you can stop worrying about gameplay and concentrate on other things. If you want to read more, click on my name.

            3. True, I said it in the first comment as well, words change over time and usually not when forced. But this only applies to the general public. Developers, digital distributors and even critics will jump onto any new thing as long as there is money on the table. This is the number one, real world reason for this argument, which is far from useless.

            Imagine a world where there was only one form of literature, the novel. In a world like that short-stories, poetry, non-fiction and so on, have no place on the market. If you try to develop any “non-novels” you are not only going to get laughed at by the critics and the public, but you also make little to no money. Is a market like that going to allow for a healthy and diverse literature scene?

            Understanding and using different names and definitions for distinct types of interactive digital media is going to create a more diverse and healthy market for “non-game” titles, such as interactive fiction and interactive simulations (my personal favorite, so I do have a vested interest in the matter). This is, in my opinion, a worthwhile pursuit.

            Now I really have add a “Why?” section to my site.

          • Focksbot says:

            “1. Words change, yes, but still every major language has regulatory committees in charge of keeping the baseline written form of the language, taught in schools, understandable and universal.”

            No, they don’t. There’s no Committee For Proper English. The rules taught in schools are a reflection of popular usage, and are changed as popular usage changes.

            “Without such regulation there would be much more confusion in government and law, where specificity is important.”

            There *is* confusion, and specificity is incredibly difficult. Where it is absolutely required, you will usually get a discipline-specific jargon emerging. But the whole law industry is founded on the fact that legislation is often ambiguous and needs to be argued over.

            “The definition of a game is very easy to objectively derive in a specific, not at all arbitrary, way. All you need to do …”

            Well done – you just managed to exclude Space Invaders from the definition of a ‘game’, since there is no win condition. What about point and click adventure games, where there is no lose condition? What constitutes an ‘irreversible’ change, since all computer games can be reset?

            Set conditions are not a good way of defining media. A better way of doing so is by using the idea of familial resemblance. It’s a game if it looks more like a game than anything else.

            “Imagine a world where there was only one form of literature, the novel. In a world like that short-stories, poetry, non-fiction and so on, have no place on the market.”

            This analogy doesn’t hold, since in such a world ‘novel’ would be forced to behave as a broad catch-all term and ‘short-stories’, ‘poetry’ etc would naturally end up as subgenres. There’s no evidence to suggest that the diversity of a market is harmed by the use of broad categories to begin with.

    • ansionnach says:

      Amen to that – it’s so heavy-handed and patronising that it lost me very quickly.

    • kaliper says:

      well we don’t actually live in this fantasy society where white men are the true victims of discrimination while minorities are conniving whiners who secretly live in luxury and hold all positions of power

      also have you ever considered that a minority can be hired because they’re the most qualified person, and that white dudes aren’t always the best at everything

      • onionman says:

        This is why we can’t have nice things. Where did I say or imply that we live in that fantasy society? What I said was, the “game” is hamfisted and one-sided in its approach to the subject matter. It doesn’t actually demonstrate anything. One could easily make the kind of counterargument “game” that I posited, and it would be no more or less persuasive.

        Also, just for the record, I specifically noted being forced to take a more qualified straight white male over a less qualified minority. I don’t have a problem taking a more qualified minority over a less qualified straight white male and I don’t know anyone (straight, white, male, or otherwise) who would. The issue is de facto quota systems.

        • onionman says:

          Sorry, less qualified minority over a more qualified straight white male. My kingdom for an edit button.

        • maurovanetti says:

          Yes, IF there were no gender gap in the real world, your argument would apply. BUT there is a gender gap in the real world (that end-of-match stats attempt to hint at…).

          And it’s interesting to hear that you know nobody that would hire less qualified people just because of their gender, but unfortunately this is precisely what typically happens. And by the way, qualification is also not uniformly spread across the population, because there is an education gap as well that trickles down on and reinforces the employment gap which also reinforces the income gap and so on and so on. It’s not a matter of individual evilness, it’s a matter of systemic disadvantages that add up unless we collectively do something to counter it.

          This said, I’m really very glad that my mini game brings up debates like this. Toss away the game if you don’t like it but continue the debate. :-)

          • maurovanetti says:

            (Interestingly, in countries such as the UK, there is an education gender gap but it goes the other way round: the average young woman is more educated than the average young man, and yet a few years after college she still earns less than her male counterpart! On a world scale, though, the education gender gap is in favour of men. This shows that the pay gap is largely decoupled from qualification: women earn less in any case.)

          • onionman says:

            Actually the “pay gap,” such as it is, is no more than 2% once you control for age, experience, education, and work history:

            link to payscale.com

            As for the rest, I mean, look. You can talk about systemic disadvantages all you want to. I’m not going to deny they exist. What I will assert as long as I am able is that it is fundamentally immoral to take someone less qualified over someone more qualified just because of that person’s sex or the color of their skin. It is just as immoral to take a less qualified white male over a more qualified woman of color, simply because he is a white male, as it is to take a less qualified woman of color over a more qualified white male, simply because she is a woman of color.

          • maurovanetti says:

            I suggest that you and everybody else click on the very interesting link you provided and read the data there. It doesn’t say what you seem to believe. :-)

            It says that the gender gap is very wide and that most of it is due to a gender gap in jobs, although there’s still a 2,7% pay gap even if we compensate for all other factors.

            « In fact, the problem, and a major cause of pay inequity in general, is that men and women are not doing the same jobs in the first place» – which is precisely the point of my game.

          • ansionnach says:

            The argument still holds: regardless of what systemic disadvantages exist the best approach is to hire the best person for the job all the time. Correcting perceived inequalities by perpetuating more inequality is an absurd and deeply ironic way for somebody concerned about such things to go about solving the problem. Once quotas are introduced discrimination becomes officially institutionalised.

          • maurovanetti says:

            I am against quotas, for what it’s worth.

          • Brisseline says:

            The “pregnancy risk” argument, and even any argument revolving around “biological differences” completely falls apart when you consider that transgender people exist, though? Trans women earn substantially less than cis women, and largely go unemployed due to discrimination, where trans men earn substantially more on average than a cis woman, even though, from an employer’s reasoning, a trans man should still be considered a pregnancy risk.

          • onionman says:

            @Brisseline

            Women have uteruses

          • ansionnach says:

            Fair enough if you’re against quotas. I’m not sure what you’re getting at when you state:
            “Yes, IF there were no gender gap in the real world, your argument would apply.”

            The other chap had been talking about hiring the most qualified person for the job in all circumstances. I’d say that argument always applies. Whatever needs to be done to encourage more people to work in certain areas has to be done before the interview room situation. At that point the interviewer serves all interests best by hiring the best candidate.

    • Yglorba says:

      I’m sure that would get front page coverage on this website.

      Look, mate, if you know enough to say that, then you’ve been here long enough to know that this site and its staff does in fact have capital-O Opinions, and that it wears them on its sleeve. Obviously, most of the people who are here are here because they agree — about what makes a game, about what makes a good game, about what sorts of messages are interesting and honest and worth listening to, and which are dumb or poorly-considered.

      Maybe you disagree! Maybe you feel different messages have value; maybe you don’t feel a general-interest games website should care about what a game’s message is. RPS does, and they’re really well-known for that at this point, so if you do disagree… I mean, what on earth are you doing here? Brendan Caldwell ain’t going to reel back in shock and change his total approach to selecting games because you criticized it. The other people on the site aren’t going to stop reading it because you want to get all preachy and snide about how you feel it’s wrong to evaluate games like that.

      It’s a free internet! The internet is totally huge now. Anyone can find any site they want to cater to their particular tastes in terms of how they think games (or anything else) should be covered. That being the case… why are you still here? RPS isn’t going to magically transmute itself into what you want it to be. If it pisses you off so much, just find a site more to your liking and hang out there. Or does it just annoy you beyond reason to think that somehow, somewhere, there’s a popular site that covers games from an angle you don’t agree with?

      Because seriously, I’m pretty sure I’ve seen you go onto tirades exactly like this one many, many times before whenever gender-politics come up, and I’m just confused as to why you’re still here. Do you just like arguing, or what? I mean, if that’s it, I guess I can understand, but I want to get a sense of what your point is here — you can’t honestly still be surprised about the perspective RPS takes on the issue, so the whole monocle-popping couch-fainting reaction every time it comes up seems just a tinsy bit bizarre.

  3. Kerenn says:

    I can’t seem to win “two interviewees”. neither as the guy nor as the girl, nor both. Why do they want to know my marital status and why am I a communist for it ? Why should communism be bad ?

  4. Wisq says:

    No idea what the purpose of Lake Poisonknee was. Made it to the end, a rose showed up, nothing else seemed to happen.

    Also, I managed to escape the map almost immediately, but that seemed unintentional rather than an easter egg or part of the game.

    Also: god Unity needs some kind of built-in support for first person games, i.e. a basic minimal set of options to make it comfortable: An “invert Y axis” button, a mouse sensitivity slider (people use very high DPI mice these days!), and keybindings that actually work with keyboard layouts other than QWERTY. (On Mac at least, if I change a key binding in the Input tab, it records it as the physical [QWERTY] key, but then the in-game interface seems to detect the mapped [not QWERTY] key, so it doesn’t work.)

    • Jokerme says:

      Apparently it is “A short atmospheric game made with Unity about loss and dealing with loss”. I was only able to find “short” and “Unity” parts of that statement. Rest is nonexistent.

      • LionsPhil says:

        I believe the standard defense here for an art game would be that you just don’t get it.

        • Hmm-Hmm. says:

          It would be nice if it were somehow easier to ‘get’.

          Of course, art is art, but the artform used can provide some ways to allow the person experiencing it a way to make sense of it. Especially if it’s a game.

  5. Zenobite says:

    Had a go on Two Interviewees there may have been some sort of message or moral but it was too subtle for me.

  6. savagegreywolf says:

    The message I learned is I shouldn’t bother applying to work at Business Service Inc. or Studio Team Ltd. because they’re both run by assholes and thus I’d probably hate working there.

    I mean, them judging interviewees based on the fact that they ‘look gay’ or asking irrelevant personal questions and then getting offended when they call you out on it should pretty much tell you that you don’t want this jackass as your boss.

  7. Aerothorn says:

    Two Interviewees make me wonder about what the laws around interviews are in Italy – a LOT of the questions asked are illegal in the USA.

    • maurovanetti says:

      Same here. But in Italy, and, I guess, everywhere, illegal actions are sometimes performed anyways, for example when the balance of power is such that the weak party cannot easily defend themself.

      E.g.: «It seems, however, that employers and recruiters across the US simply ignore or are unaware of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. Pregnancy discrimination lawsuits seem to be on the rise in the US, especially in times of financial hardship when companies often downsize their workforce.»
      link to labourmobility.com

      BTW, there are many other countries than Italy and the US in the world, and in many of them the gender gap and anti-discrimination laws are far worse than in these two advanced economies.

      • bp_968 says:

        What I tire of is people seeing employees as “people” but business owners as “them”. Sure some businesses can afford to keep low performers around and survive but many others can’t. As a business owner if you were faced with failing or removing the less qualified or capable workers what is the “right” thing to do? If keeping them kills the business and costs 20-30 people their jobs was it the “right” thing to do? And I’m disabled and have been on the receiving end. But if I can’t do the job why should they be forced to keep me employed?

        As for the “gender pay gap” I believe it ignores basic differences in the sexes. Women often choose to focus on family at the expense of their career during their peak earning years. That’s going to skew statistics pretty strongly and keep a “gap” between the sexes.

        The death simulator game sounds pretty funny. I’ll have to check that one out.

        • maurovanetti says:

          «basic differences in the sexes»

          Creepy.

          • onionman says:

            Yes, it’s super creepy to note that women have uteruses and tend to want to use them, which takes them out of the labor force for ~9 months at a time ~2.5 times in their life.

          • Kitsunin says:

            Sure, objectively it is somewhat riskier to hire women who may have children, but if you discriminate based on this, that’s immoral. Personally, I think a good solution would be equal paternal benefits so the risk is equal regardless of sex, but ha, like that’s going to happen.

            Either way, when you openly discriminate based on this, that’s when you get completely fucked situations. Hate Plus has a good example of this taken to the furthest degree.

          • Urthman says:

            It’s *immoral* to care that your business could be fucked if you hire someone who turns out to be unable to do the job? Can you really not understand what it’s like to run a business?

            Imagine you hired someone to do an important job, fix a hole in your roof, say. Then you find out they can’t do it for six months, but you have to pay them anyway. If you want it fixed sooner, you have to hire a second person and basically pay double to get your roof fixed. And then someone tells you that it’s *immoral* to feel upset about this.

          • DrollRemark says:

            Wow, you people are real charmers.

          • Titler says:

            “creepy”

            This, right here, is where despite the argument already being won, you continue to insist upon losing it; Look, decent people already know equal work should gain equal pay. Awful people don’t care and can’t be reached, but the problem is not that decent people don’t understand gender differences, and have to be treated like children until they do, but that they’re largely powerless to tackle it because the power structures you elsewhere seem to be aware of work against them.

            And one of the main ways to disempower people is to get them squabbling over divisive trivia, like gender or racial or geographical divisions. So using a heavily gendered insult like “creepy” to describe someone talking about basic biological facts is a perfect example of how your arguments work against you.

            Let’s use another example for what I’m talking about; The N Word.
            * Acknowledging words have the power to hurt? Right on! We’re with you there!
            * Taking powerful words out of the hands of idiots? Great idea!
            * Redefining it so it can’t be used in the same way in the future? No problems!
            * Redefining it to mean… “Cash obsessed, women hating Gangsta thugs”? Wait… what? Why would you want to make it mean that? Why not “Hilarious Comedian” (Chris Rock) or “Expert on Astronomy” (Neil Degrasse Tyson) say?

            Criticising Gangsta Rap isn’t the same as criticising black people, quite the opposite; but blind, “we must defend everything a persecuted minority in one area does” polemic just alienates all the people who were with you on Steps 1,2 and 3, because step 4 is unbelievably naïve and counter productive.

            And so it is with gender arguments today. Yes, those kind of hiring practices are terrible. Everyone knows this. They also know women have uterii. But if you think just “starting a debate”, when it’s been debated to death and the battle already won, is helpful… you’re playing right into the true enemies hands; Now, at the end of the game, does a revolutionary faction charge in, shoot the bosses, and raise the red flag? Anything that tackles the power structures themselves, which may have co-opted women into making those judgements at the management level, rather than simple, divisive gender? No? Then all you’re doing is alienating your own allies with pointless division.

            And if you really wanted to get people thinking, you could have a Stalin amongst the revolutionaries, who despite clearly being a homicidal gangsta thug, rises to the top, post Boss-Lynching, because he’s fatal to most men who try and resist him, and fatally attractive to enough women to negate the social power of sexual selection too… you could talk about how prejudicial hateful bosses don’t just come out of nowhere, but from the societies that birthed them, and men and women are active or disincentivised in all sorts of ways to keep pushing the awful people to the top.

            And then the game restarts, and this time it’s Stalin doing the job interviews. And he’s exactly the same as the first round bosses, except he’s got a honking big moustache…

            You know, looking from the pigs to the men and all that. Like in Orwell’s “1984”. It’s all been understood for nearly 3/4 of a century now. The people who might listen to you do read books, y’know. Do something new for them.

          • Kitsunin says:

            Refusing to hire someone because they might get pregnant is immoral because it is taking advantage of a prisoner’s dilemma. You might be able to save your business and some jobs by doing it (or, it might just matter very little aside from lowering the bottom line somewhat), BUT if everyone does it, women are fucked and can’t get jobs.

            You can’t say “yeah it’s wrong when it’s a big company that can take the hit, but I can’t so it’s okay to treat men preferentially.”

          • Faxmachinen says:

            Unless your job is to smoke crack all day, you don’t need to be on leave from the moment you get pregnant. And even if you did, the father gets an equal amount of paid leave, so that is no reason to hire a man over a woman.

            If you hire an employee with the expectation that they will fix the hole in your roof immediately, then you’ve already fucked up. Either plan for it before it happens, or hire a contractor.

          • maurovanetti says:

            I’m a bit surprised by Titler’s criticism.

            It’s as if he’s accusing me of stating the obvious, but hey, it’s not obvious at all. And in any case, what’s the problem with stating the obvious? How many stories, movies, games, even leaflets (I’m very fond of political leaflets, you know) state the obvious? It’s important to state the obvious because that’s how the obvious remain obvious instead of becoming controversial – but the need to tackle the gender gap is not obvious in most of the planet Earth in year 2016, it’s still, unfortunately, controversial. And this thread shows it IMHO.

            About the word “creepy”: I’m Italian, I’ve lived in London but my knowledge of English is quite limited (the game’s translation was heavily edited by an English woman and an English girl, I don’t get most of its nuances myself). I have no idea what you mean with this word being “gendered”, I checked on the Mirriam-Webster and it just means “inquietante” in Italian, something that gives you the creeps. Justifying (not explaining its origins: justifying) social injustice on the basis of alleged biological differences and declaring such differences to be “basic” gives me the creeps and give any decent person in Europe the creeps. Guess why. I was not calling anybody creepy, I was calling the argument creepy because creeps is what it gives me.

            Then you say that the game is not OK because it does not explain that a social revolution is necessary to prevent the capitalist free market of proletarian workforce from using gender and other individual diversity to divide the workers and over-exploit parts of them. Well, as a little search on the Internet can show you, I do believe that a revolution is needed and that capitalism is an obsolete mode of production, and I have actually been an activist since I am 14-15, but I am also interested in game studies and you just cannot make a game like that, at least not in the framework of this particular game. Not everything that works as an argument for an essay or a propaganda pamphlet is as effective when packaged as a game.

            I don’t see why debate about gender bias should be silenced because you deem it a “divisive trivia”. It is not a trivia and it should not be divisive between reasonable male and female workers. I am a straight man and I don’t find it divisive, it’s a problem for me if my girlfriend does not get hired. Most men I know don’t find it divisive. I tried to tackle that subject in the ending, where you find out that the interests of Martin and Irene are not in contrast at all (I have the feeling that many have not managed to reach the ending :-) which is ironic because it shows that it actually *is* a game). I do not believe that it’s a matter of individual men vs individual women or male gender vs female gender and I do not see how my game could foster such a point of view; it’s systemic, of course, and it has much to do with the balance of power between social classes.

            I agree with your point about gangsta rap and misguided identity politics, if I understood it. I don’t get why you’re telling me but it’s OK.

            I agree that better games can be made, including games featuring Stalin and based on George Orwell’s work. Hopefully somebody will make them someday. You can try. There’s plenty of room for intelligent games of any kind – and also for silly ones. :-)

          • Distec says:

            So you’ve said yourself that the issue of the gender wage gap is that men and women largely aren’t taking the same jobs. Leave alone the discussion of whether this is an actual problem (in and of itself I don’t think it is) – if this is the truth of things, then surely this is an issue best tackled in education, upbringing, and early career selection. The problem would be one largely coming from the bottom-up, and not due to biased employers screening women from joining the boy’s club.

            Yet here we are, with a game that points its fingers squarely at would-be employers. Hmm.

          • maurovanetti says:

            «surely this is an issue best tackled in education, upbringing, and early career selection»

            Why “surely”? Actually, some scholars studied scientifically if the gap is “best tackled in education” and they found out that it is not: women can study more and yet they are going to be paid less than men at their same education level.

            You can easily find detailed studies explaining with unquestionable data that it’s not as simple as you seem to believe.

    • gwathdring says:

      I have been assigned by my boss to directly violate fire code as soon as the fire marshall left the building. Being a boss or an HR manager does not mean you a) know the law or b) care about the law. You have a business to run, merchandise or what-have-you to protect, profits to make. Stuff gets lost along the way. Like

      • gwathdring says:

        *like fire safety.

        • Jediben says:

          Wow. What twisted country do you live in where employers can plead ignorance to things like Health and Safety legislation?

          • Kitsunin says:

            My grandfather used to be in charge of building inspections across his town, and trust me, it’s the US at least.

  8. Umbu Games says:

    The Death’s Life is competing in Steam Greenlight, please vote for us:
    link to steamcommunity.com

  9. roguewombat says:

    I’m really enjoying Loren’s Dungeon Decorator. The tileset is quite versatile, letting you use your imagination to rotate / flip tiles into new usages. I was able to use the same tiles for both man-eating plants and gardens in the sky. : )

    link to twitter.com

    link to twitter.com

    Can’t wait for v1 to drop so I can actually include text and NPCs in my levels.

    Also, in case you missed it, Loren put Star Guard up on itch.io. One of the best indie platformers from 2008. ^_^

  10. Undermind_Mike says:

    Blergh I find it counterproductive when privileged people rage against any attempt to discuss real inequality online. The developer must be very patient.

    Anyway I wanted to say the site for Tera Toaster sends up the zeitgeist in a way that really made me crack a smile: it advertises the game’s “Seamless planetary landings” :D

    • onionman says:

      Yes, obviously, pointing out that the game doesn’t prove anything about discrimination to anyone who doesn’t already agree 100% with the point being made, and that there are other valid perspectives, is “privileged people rage against any attempt to discuss real inequality.”

      FFS

      • LennyLeonardo says:

        I don’t think the game set out to ‘prove anything’, but to foster discussion, which it has done.

        • Premium User Badge

          teije says:

          Definitely – and seeing how worked up some people in this thread have gotten about it is entertaining as well.

        • Distec says:

          What cack. The game is designed to make an argument. The creator is in this very comment section saying as such. Any discussion it provokes is incidental to that. And apparently actually discussing it shows one to be unhinged! How intellectually stimulating. Thank goodness for Two Interviewees.

    • Yglorba says:

      One of the things that I think is interesting is how Truce, just a bit down the page, is a similar message game with a very similar style and tone; almost all the objections that people say they have to Two Interviewees applies to it, yet it hasn’t gotten any people complaining about it at all.

      There’s a sort of sense there that people feel message games are fine, unless it’s a message they disagree with. (And I don’t even disagree with that — a game with a terrible message is, well, terrible; if someone made Triumph of the Will or Birth of a Nation, the videogame, I might praise its cinematography or rich environments or whatever, but you better believe my main focus would be on the awful message. But this argument has to be made honestly.

      “Oh, I just don’t like to see a game be so preachy” or “Is it really a game?” are ducking the real issue they have with it; after all, it always feel preachy to listen to someone you disagree with (I personally feel the preachiest people on the Internet, by far, are young faux-libertarians, say. Not that I would leap to any conclusions about the politics of anyone here, mind.)

      • Distec says:

        You’re not wrong at all. Technical arguments often get swapped out for moral ones, and vice versa, depending on how one feels about the product in question. But preachiness can absolutely be a valid criticism of a game. Not an objective one for obvious reasons, but it’s not as if it can’t ever be leveled.

        I think part of the reason you may see more accusations of a game being preachy is because they require players to be complicit in arguments they may not agree with. I’m being invited to an interactive experience where my actions are supposed to have some degree of consequence (whether that is affecting the entirety of the gameworld or simply moving on to the next level), but a game like Two Interviewees funnels all my actions into couple of ideological conclusions that the author has already determined: would-be employers are assholes that will judge and dismiss me over petty differences and prejudgments. Compare how one might feel if they were playing one of these games and the inescapable conclusion was “Capitalism/socialism is fucking stupid”, “liberals/conservatives are terrible for the country”, or even “This is why feminists are Nazis”.

        Which, y’know… no problem if you want to make a game with any of those arguments. If you want to express a strongly held belief through a video game, you absolutely can. But you may find there’s a little less tolerance for this soapboxing (and that’s exactly what it is) when you’re asking a user to grit their teeth and participate in it. A film could touch on all the same issues with the same tone, but at least it’s not asking me to press buttons and make its argument for it.

        I feel likes Message Games or similar “educational” games kinda squander the opportunities provided by the medium. From a strictly gameplay perspective, many titles take the approach of teaching you mechanics bit by bit as you go along, with the end result of preparing the player to navigate more complex challenges on their own. Even if there is some subtle hand-holding later in the game, the player can feel like they’ve used their own abilities and intellect to overcome a challenge; they did it all by themselves!

        Good games eventually trust the player to make their own decisions, and this is an approach that would work much better if you’re seriously trying to get somebody to think about a contentious issue, social or otherwise. Yes, there’s the risk that a player may not walk away with the lesson you wished to impart. If I make a game about the evils of capitalism and a player decides “No I’m fine with it”, then I guess you could consider that a failure. But anybody who is swayed will probably have a stronger conviction than if they were led to the fortune cookie’s message by their nose.

      • maurovanetti says:

        I agree with both of you. The main issue I have with my own game is that it is too preachy, and yet I feel that many of those who get mad at it are just disliking what it preaches (gender equality). I used the same word when talking to a great game designer that I admire a lot (and who’s able to make great games with a strong message that don’t look preachy at all): link to twitter.com

        I believe that games should definitely be subtler in delivering messages, leave them more open to interpretation and exploit the potentialities of the medium in more powerful ways. In order to do that, though, one needs to make longer games. I was constrained by the format (and by my own shortcomings as an unexperienced game designer and developer, of course), which makes it a little more than a bitter joke about gender bias or an interactive appeal to conversation.

        I take the interest this mini game is attracting as an indication that something deeper like a full-blown game can be made on this subject. I hope somebody takes up the challenge (I’m working on something different right now, visual novels aren’t really my thing, to be honest :-) ).

        • onionman says:

          All these walls of words and you still obviously do not get it.

          Nobody objects to “gender equality” in the abstract. The issues at stake are:

          1) What exactly does “gender equality” mean?

          2) How exactly do you propose to go about establishing it?

          3) Does Two Interviewees make a compelling argument, or (my position) does it simply regurgitate platitudes?

          The fact that you can’t take criticism of your game without blaming it on regressive misogyny indicates just how “preachy” and likely to regurgitate the exact same platitudes any longer game of yours will be.

          • maurovanetti says:

            I don’t know how you can say that I don’t take criticism when I just said that I actually share it and I showed that I was having this feeling from the very beginning. :-)

            About the questions, I’m not sure the topic here is how exactly I wish to establish gender equality and if my game provides such solution. Remember: it’s a game, not a political programme to rule the world.

  11. darkmorgado says:

    What really used to bake my noggin is that eggs actually float in water (unless they’re rotten, in which case they sink).

    So Dizzy should only sink in the games if he’s the egg equivalent of a zombie – in which case he wouldn’t drown anyway.

    • Fattox says:

      It’s actually the other way around, rotten eggs float. The egg brings in more air over time through the pores in the shell and forms air pockets.

      Hopefully this PSA stops you or someone else from eating a zombified Dizzy.

  12. thelegendofjonnii says:

    I may be crazy according to everyone else commenting on here but I actually enjoyed Two Interviewees. I mean yeah it wasn’t much of a game but I learned some new little facts and even checked out some of the sources he linked out of curiosity. For a free game that I didn’t have to put any time or effort towards it was still really fun to see what responses I received for my different choices. I did a lets play of it because when I started the game I expected it to be something completely different but like I said, I still had fun with it.
    link to youtu.be

  13. NiftyHat says:

    I was sad when I got to the marriage question in “Two Interviewees” and didn’t have the option to tell the interviewer it was none of their business.

    The whole thing felt a little heavy handed; yes it’s true anti-discrimination laws don’t mean much to the hiring process; but the game doesn’t really capture any of the nuance of it. It would be nice to have something more mechanically in depth, or used a simple abstraction to make it easier to explore the core themes.