Welcome to our weekly open thread for the discussion of gaming plans, nagging questions, and whatever else we feel like talking about. No matter what the topic, we invite everyone in the comments to tell us: What Are You Playing This Weekend?
This weekend, I’m going to be messing around with 404Sight. It’s a free PC game made by Retro Yeti Games, a team of graduate students from the University Of Utah’s Entertainment Arts And Engineering program. You can grab it on Steam or directly from its website.
404Sight is a pretty straightforward parkour-inspired game that takes a lot of cues from Mirror’s Edge. Playing in either a first- or third-person perspective, the object is to run and jump your way to each level’s goal as fast as possible. Like in Mirror’s Edge, your character here is also a courier, but instead of running around pristine dystopian rooftops, you’re running through the internet.
But under the speed and Tron-flavored neon visuals, 404Sight is a game about net neutrality. The internet you’re running through is beset by a totalitarian internet service provider that is taking over the world. It assault couriers, creates slow paths that make your work virtually impossible, and installs unhelpful cliffs all over the place. Oh, and it’s represented by a sigil that combines the logos for Comcast and Time Warner Cable. (There’s a reason, beyond educational value, that this game is free.)
It’s not subtle, but it is good fun and a smart experiment in the form some have taken to calling “newsgames,” a game made to teach us about real-world problems. But many newsgames are serious and aim to simulate events in a way that 404Sight doesn’t. It sits at an intersection of mainstream games and newsgames, relaying its message with allegory and a more traditional video game structure. There’s something to that intersection. I’d like to see more develoeprs take on issues this way, to think through contemporary political problems in ways more nuanced than, “Well, how upsetting is violence against digital grandmas?”
How about you, Gameologicos? What are you up to this weekend? And if you’re playing The Witcher 3, I want to hear all about your beard preferences.