In fortnightly ‘Notes’, Game On presents a short, curated collection of games and links that don’t fit elsewhere.
It’s the big name, heart-rate raising iPhone games like Ski Safari, Jetpack Joyride and Ziggurat that usually get the loudest praise from me. In practice, though, I obsess over these games for many weeks before gradually dropping off—they take dedication to play, despite their burst-play mechanics. I can’t play Ziggurat before I go to bed because if I do, I won’t sleep for hours.
It’s the contemplative games, then, that get the most consistent play from me. I use them as a routine and ritual, to organise my mind. I have a Solitaire app on my iPhone that’s seen more hours of play than any other app by some margin—a margin I’m loathe to reveal to anyone, in fact.
So it was with some excitement that I found Froggies recently, an iPhone and iPad game by Ondrej Sedlacek, a Czech developer who was raised and educated in Australia. It’s a neat spin on Peg Solitaire—have all frogs jump each other to leave one standing—that uses different frog types to complicate things. Some frogs can move one space without jumping, others can be jumped over twice without being removed.
Only time will tell if I end up using Froggies in the same ritualistic sense as my Solitaire app, but some factors are there, resulting in meditative and interesting gameplay.
Another game that really caught my eye this last fortnight was Souvenir, a Masters student project at Parsons. It’s an amazingly creative game in terms of level design—it’s a biography of sorts, taking the player through a childhood home, a high school, a church, and a camping trip. The game is obviously non-professional, and the navigation system is deeply flawed. It’s not an amazing game to play, but it is interesting just to be in the space. It’s freely available at the project website, linked above.
James Pinnell has a provocative piece up over at Games.on.net, where he charts what he calls “the culture of gamer entitlement.” It seems important to note these things at the moment, though it feels difficult, to me at least, to grasp a bigger picture. There is a lot of anger spread across the videogames communities, but it also feels like a shift not entirely limited to games.
Finally, Fez was featured in a two-page spread in the New York Times this week. The writer, Chris Suellentrop, is more generous than I was, but it’s interesting to see that videogames seem to have regular and critically engaged coverage in the Times.