50. Passage [Official site] (2007)
Developer: Jason Rohrer
Passage is a simple, 2D game in which you walk from left to right, and as you do your tiny sprite man experiences all the stages of life: growing old, chasing love, finding a wife, not being able to fit through one-square gaps because the wife makes you too wide…
The simplicity of its metaphors aside, Passage was released in 2007 at a time when “indie games” and “art games” were just beginning to gain traction. It helped jumpstart both, by showing a way – albeit a limited one – that games could communicate through their mechanics without cutscenes or plot or anything borrowed from other mediums. It’s now one of a handful of games regularly accepted into museum exhibits worldwide, including the Museum of Modern Art’s videogame design exhibition.
Notes: Creator Jason Rohrer has gone on to make a number of interesting games, but some of his most interesting are those designed – but not necessarily ever made – for the Experimental Gameplay Workshop at GDC.
What else should I be playing if I like this: Sleep Is Death is my favourite Rohrer game. It’s a two-player game that allows for collaborative storytelling, in which one player sets a scene with characters and objects and then invites another to interact with it. The storyteller then responds to the player’s actions in real-time through a simple turn-based system.
Where can I download it: Official Site