Vol… Volcano

Okay so, Volcano are Fun! is flatly the worst game that’s been curated on here. I won’t be saying any cute subversions. It’s a confused, frustrating prototype, made by beginner devs, further hamstrung by being made for a timed game jam. Like, even the grammar in the title is off, and no way on purpose. I’m just getting my honest reactions out of the way, because these reactions aren’t really constructive or interesting for something clearly rough and meant to be rough. I’ve seen, you’ve seen it too, writing that’s just absolute egowank getting passed as a service for the gaming public. People quickly vet bad games on their own. Going on and on about obviously unpopular games, claiming they lack integrity or are somehow exploitative serves to stroke hostility toward people entering game development, puts unreasonable expectations on people who are still learning or finding themselves. It’s obvious right? Not every game should be held to the same standard, but that’s most often what critics and consumers do.

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Hero, You’re Not a Hero

Videogame protagonists tend to be written as someone who stays the center of attention, an ego-avatar that allows a player to occupy the spotlight. This sort of lead character is someone who’s outgoing, impulsive, and not-entirely-kind, while assumed by those around him as charming or charismatic, even if the character has nothing really interesting about him at all. They’re principled when it counts, seen to be heroic by the fiction’s rigged customs, and good at what they do (which is usually fighting), so their emotional maturity is a nonissue. With this description a great many (mostly male) characters come to mind. This trend can be dismissed as bad writing or even videogame writing, but I think the causation is pretty natural. These are desirable traits for men, so they appear overwhelmingly in leading men.

Role playing games very often slip into these sort of heroic protagonists. It may be that these characters are perceived as neutral vehicles. Or it may simply be an uninterrogated tradition. Their frequency has resulted in subversions of their purpose, at least. Distant, jarring, and alienating in their forced bluster, quite a few modern instances take on a subversive or satirical role. Though this also means that it’s preferable to explore this one kind of personality from every facet imaginable, rather than attempting to write a more natural lead, or even diversifying things at all. By now I’ve been so blunt and obnoxious that somebody out there is starting to think of exceptions, or every exception, and yes. What I’m laboring to to say is that deviations from a heroic default are exceptional.

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A Hundred Poem

I don’t really like game jams with strict time limits, like, there is rarely a compelling reason for self-imposed crunch (it seems this trend is reversing so I won’t belabor this), but The 100-in-1 Klik and Play Pirate Kart is an exception. A hundred games made in forty-eight hours, the stipulations of the game jam feed into its output, the whole event is geared to make a certain kind of game. Fathoming, again, a hundred games in two days, by less than two dozen people, they have a texture and attitude unlike games made by conventional means or reasons.

Some are flat out horrible, but many are genuinely great. They’re sketches, unconventional takes, reimagining of games based on the Klik and Play toolset. Playing them all at once creates a tumult, each new game a bizarre shift in values, presentation, rules, needs, wants. A reprocessing occurs which each new piece, a commonality established by forced association, my brain attempting to find patterns where there are none.

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