I played one of my favorite games today: grocery shopping.
I am a geek: a person inclined to get excited over the minutia of a topic or topics. One of the ways I manifest this is by being a foodie. I enjoy the history, science, and craft of food preparation and consumption. Food has more in common with games than one might think. In fact, everything about food can be appreciated in the same way as a game.
The first-world way we approach food fundamentally a luxury. We need to eat, but our basic needs can be taken care of by any number of inexpensive and simple foods. The countless choices available at a grocery store and the multitude of preparations are frivolous from the perspective of our pre-technological ancestors or even from the perspective of a less-well-off third- or second-world citizen.
That means that my grocery experience was only a short hop away from being a game.
I’ve been playing a game lately about exploring a place where a man-made disaster has bent the very fabric of reality itself, creating bizarre anomalies and strange creatures. I explore the abandoned remnants of cities and laboratories, scrabbling for resources and seeking answers to the nature of the disaster.
This game is so good, it’s distracted me from playing STALKER.
Jonas Kyratzes‘s new game Phenomenon 32 has a similar setting to GSC Game World‘s Chernobyl shooter: the familiar modern world, distorted by the folly of science unbounded by ethics into a place where the very rules of reality can’t be trusted. This isn’t a new premise: STALKER is indirectly based on the 1972 novel Roadside Picnic, and the seminal work for this concept is probably the “Dying Earth” series. It’s sheer coincidence that I was playing these two games at the same time, but there are several good reasons why Phenomenon 32 is winning out.
In this podcast, I talk about exploration games. Exploration games, as I categorize them, are games with an open world that offer an array of paths at any one time. They’re awesome because they appeal to players’ curiosity and completionism, and they help deal with player frustration.
The music for this episode is “Space Doggity” by Jonathan Coulton, and is available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 license.