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Priceless Play -- 9 February 2019

To love and friendship and birthdays

Hello friends, welcome to February in our little column. Now, depending on how you feel about... that holiday, we can all agree that there is one very important day in February. Perhaps some of you think it's a needless expression of "feelings," or maybe some of you think it's a practice in consumerism, but I know that there is a special breed of person who can recognise in this day an outpouring of love, support, and good vibes. I am, of course, talking about my best friend Jordan Erica Webber's birthday on the 10th of February, the most sacred holiday of all. My dearest Jordan: even though I am 5,365 miles away from you, toiling away at the altar of academia, I would never pass by the opportunity to make everything about you for one special day.

Of course, not everyone knows who Jordan is, and so I suppose that broadly speaking one could apply the general feelings present here to all friendships -- which is good. Friendship is good, and friendships are important. I only text like, max, three people (and I've gotten extremely bad at responding to texts; please see my recent column-apology about e-mails) because I get overwhelmed. I'm not suggesting that one needs to have an endless list of friends in order to get by in life. You work with what you've got! We're not going to make this a series of self-deprecating jokes about friendship here, folks. That's not what Jordan would want. And so! Please check out the following list of games which celebrate the love of friendship, and my friend Jordan.

Kara Stone's ・。゜★・。☆Super Uplifting Friendship Simulator・゜。★・。☆

Super Uplifting Friendship Simulator is aptly named, and extremely relevant to my interests. I've already mentioned that my main support system is 5,365 miles away from me (and I'm bad at texting). This is not an unfamiliar situation for Stone, who made this Twine game for her best friend, who she doesn't see very often. "This game is to replace each other when we are too busy with work, out of town, or otherwise unable to be a support system," Stone says of the game on its itch page. It's fairly straightforward: you present the game with a problem you've been having, whether it's with work or roommates, and the game responds with uplifting messages.

It's tough to be separated from the people who make you feel at home. It's hard to be miles, time zones, schedules, countries and cultures apart and not know when exactly you will be able to see someone again. I've moved a lot in the past decade, and navigating friendships through big moves is hard.

Bad Dreams' One Hand Clapping

Maybe this one is just me, but there's something about singing with your friends, you know what I mean? Karaoke, in the car with the windows down, wandering the aisles of Tesco and getting side-eye while your friends giggle and you try and hide behind a cheese display. Musicality is a must. Think of all those Hollywood montages! No, not the training ones. I'm thinking Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Clueless, The Breakfast Club, and Legally Blonde. Look at all those friends bonding/getting into law school/soundtracked to some wicked tunes! Do people still make mix-tapes for friends?

In One Hand Clapping from USC Games Studio's Bad Dreams, you must use the power of your voice to succeed. Now, it's still a demo -- and a bit finnicky here and there -- but it's clever, beautiful, and fun. Depending on your pitch, you can raise and lower platforms, build ramps, and solve puzzles. I kept laughing at myself, sitting at my desk, furiously and frustratedly humming into my microphone. Again -- it's finnicky!! But when it works, and you realise that you're harmonising with yourself in a darkened cave, there's something about it that just... sings.

Lenny Magner's Strawberry Cake

Baking is very important to friendship, and I feel I have made it abundantly clear that everyone should learn how to cook or bake. Being able to present a friend with a home-baked cake, cookie, or sweet for no reason in particular is the height of extra, and a kind of joy I fully recommend everyone to pursue. In Lenny's Strawberry Cake you must bake a (strawberry) cake and then take it to a community picnic for all your friends to enjoy. I love it!!!

While there remains that undeniable pleasure of being able to show up at someone's house with a layer-cake or spun sugar no matter where in the world you are, it is sometimes difficult to manage when you and your baking companion's longitude and latitude do not entirely match. This is when recipes come in. I once heard someone say that cooking a recipe to the letter was a lot like letting someone else cook for you. This is how Ruby makes chili. While I am normally a liberal recipe rulebreaker, editing for what I have on hand, the same cannot be said of Jordan, who loves to follow the rules. Cooking a recipe, like reciting prayer, is a magical little way you can be connected to everyone else who has ever cooked that recipe. Sharing recipes is a love language.

I must put in the appropriate disclaimers here: Jordan is my friend, and didn't ask anybody's permission to dedicate this column to her, nor did I get told to do it! My journalistic integrity remains intact; valued above all else.

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