Notes on Crisis Theory: An Unmanageable Resource Sim

Crisis Theory by Colestia, also known as Australia’s own David Cribb, is a kind of resource management game that subverts every assumption we’re taught to make about resource management games. The game is essentially a capitalism sim represented as a flow chart. Each node in the chart represents some part of the chain of production, […]

Notes on POST/CAPITALISM: The Base and The Superstructure

POST/CAPITALISM by Colestia (a.k.a David Cribb) is, in short, an inverted resource management sim . Or, it might be more accurate to describe as a kind of socialist SimCity, as Heather Alexandra did at Kotaku. Both approach the underpinning ethic of the game, which, unlike most games of the genre, doesn’t take hours upon hours to complete. This […]

Notes on It’s As If You Were Doing Work: Do Nothing, Feel Fine

Pippin Barr’s It’s As If You Were Doing Work is a browser game set in the near-future, when robots will have finally and completely replaced the human labour force. The speculative browser game satirizes the interface of a Windows 95-era workplace desktop, complete with the operating system sound effects. Through the medium of a desktop UI simulation, […]

Gaming on the Fringe: 2017 Roundup

2017 was a remarkably hectic year for many, and 2018 will likely match or surpass its pace. Not surprisingly, I found it difficult to justify focusing, as I do, on fringe, alternative games, and hard to keep up my old enthusiasm for seeking out works that get little play even in my own professional milieu. […]

Notes on Dinner with An Owl: A Charmingly Creepy Caper

In Dinner with An Owl, you play as a dapper young businessman by the name of Mr. Webb. Or sometimes you play as Mr. Doyle, or Mr. Wright. The name depends on the day, but it’s immaterial. Things almost always play out the same way. You’re welcomed to the charming, cozy Victorian estate of one […]

Notes on Gradient Addiction: Deciphering The Pastiche

Gradient Addiction, by indie auteur Jake Clover, is a Unity-based exploration game in which you play, by his own description, “as a half robot guy with a backpack.” You fly around a strange and broken city on the edge of a precipice. The regular rules of physics don’t apply to you: you can fall from […]

Notes on Desert Dreamer: Guilt-Free Fun

Desert Dreamer is a short and sweet musical game by Derek Andes, made for the Mystical Western Game Jam hosted by Juegos Rancheros on Or, to be more accurate, Andes describes his piece as being more of a “musical plant toy” than a game. In that sense, it’s reminiscent of other kinds of browser […]

Screenshot - Sacramento

Notes on Sacramento: Dreaming in Watercolour

Sacramento is a small game by French developer Dziff that, for lack of a better term, I’ll call a walking simulator. For some that reads as pejorative or dismissive of what the game has to offer—whether in its story, atmosphere, general aesthetic, or anything else that might resonate with a player—but I mean it as […]

Notes on Thoughts and Prayers: The Problem with An Empty Gesture

Thoughts and Prayers: The Game  is a political satire game that does exactly nothing, which is what it’s supposed to do. Brought to us by GOP Arcade, a newsgame development studio co-founded by Brian Moore, Chris Baker and Michael Lacher, Thoughts and Prayers: The Game was released in 2016 following the Orlando shooting that left […]

Screenshot - Thoughts and Prayers title screen

Screenshot - Pokemon Red

Distraction, Consumption, Identity: The Neoliberal Language of Videogames

In passing I’ve referred to the videogame industry as neoliberalism’s hideous nephew. Artist Liz Ryerson has gone into more depth on this sentiment; she’s written at length to this effect on her blog, and tweeted that “the language of videogames is neoliberalism” not long ago. It’s an easy observation to make, so plenty of critics […]