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Priceless Play - 13 April 2019

Let's all love Guy Fieri

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Spring is settling in its April bones, showering to bring May flowering. The farmer’s market around the corner is getting lusher and greener each weekend, the beach is peppered with more and more tourists in swimsuits and towels looking to soak up the sun. It is reassuring to watch the last dregs of winter (if you can call it that in southern California) drip away, and the tendrils of spring curl up out of the concrete.

Here is a collection of games which offer community, food, and other comforts to help you carry on in this season of transition and growth.

A Bewitching Revolution by Colestia

It is not every day that you find a game based on the writings of Italian autonomist Marxist feminist Silvia Federici. Today, however, is that day. A Bewitching Revolution is based on Federici’s seminal text, Caliban and the Witch, a book which sets out to reframe the traditional narrative of how capital came to be in the position that it is. Effectively, Federici’s argument is that a history of marginalisation against domestic workers set up the contemporary market. You can see why this might make for challenging video game material. Of course, dev Colestia is no stranger to making games from radical source material, often publishing explicitly political and anti-capitalist games. Cool.

Even without the background bibliography, A Bewitching Revolution is a wonderful little game. The game’s itch page describes it as “a first-person adventure game about a communist witch living in a cyberpunk city,” where you cast spells and read tarot order to help fellow residents of your gloomy city realise their radical potential and collective power. There are still a handful of little bugs to be ironed out, but it makes for a smooth and enjoyable forty-five minutes of play. I promise you don’t need to have read anything like Federici’s 1975 essay “Wages Against Housework,” in order to play the game (but if you did read it I think it would be cool). Witches of the world: unite!

Ode to My Hometown’s Craft Fair by s.e.s.

A sweet celebration of community efforts, Ode to My Hometown’s Craft Fair is “a tiny vignette about nostalgia, growing up, and going home.” I am always heartened by craft fairs and how they seem to thrive in almost any environment, and dev Samantha Schaffer seems to feel the same way. Their Bitsy game offers a small exploration of the titular craft fair, peering into tents and making observations about the craft fair’s visitors — including a younger version of yourself.

I’ll Take You To Tomato Town by Mark Sparling, David Czar, Emma Burkeitt, and adamgryu

I’ve really gotten into the television show Guy’s Grocery Games lately and I’m decidedly not sorry about it. Who allowed Guy Fieri to have such a bad reputation these past few years? How could I have been led so far from what is true and good about the world? And so I’d like to bring you back to a Ludum Dare entry from Ludum Dare 40 in 2017. I’ll Take You To Tomato Town is “probably a grocery store simulator,” where you scour the local market for random food items that you have been tasked with purchasing for some nebulous friend group. The physics are a joy. It’s wacky, it’s wild, it’s a turn-on-your-heel consumption critique that Guy Fieri would love.

Time for Some Bullshit Fish Names by cephalopodpunk

Ben, or cephalopodpunk, who is “definitely not just an octopus with access to a keyboard,” released a game a few days ago called “Tooth and Nail” which is about a fake sci-fi television show. I think. I don’t know, because when I went to go play that one, I got distracted by an entirely different game on their itch page called “Time for Some Bullshit Fish Names,” and I think that’s just the way that the cookie crumbles sometimes. I gotta hear about these bullshit fish names. I gotta!

The conceit for this Bitsy game is fairly easy to wrap your head around and I won’t do you the disservice of assuming you cannot come to your own conclusion. It’s time. For. Bullshit. Fish names!

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Who am I?

Kat Brewster

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Kat Brewster is a sometimes writer, sometimes game designer, and most-of-the-time academic based out of the University of California, Irvine. Kat's research focuses on play, the future of digital work, and queer archives. You can reach out on Twitter @katbamkapow.

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