To all the minority game designers out there…

Posted by
September 13th, 2014 5:09 pm

I love you all.

No, for real. While one of the things I love about game jams is the ability to push my own skills and make something fun for others, the vastly more important thing is that it gives people who aren’t normally game designers – and games that aren’t designed with normal paradigms – a chance to shine.

For some minority game designers at the moment, it’s really difficult – if not outright dangerous – to have a voice or create in the way they want, so I have nothing but the utmost love and respect for the People of Colour, the LGBTQIA, the differently abled and the women who managed to submit games and spread joy over the last month.

I didn’t get to play anywhere near the number of games I wanted to during the rating period, and often the game designers don’t give up aspects about their identity, but here are a whole bunch of wonderful games made by minority designers (or had minority identity as a theme in their game).

Zanlings Match: Love transcends all, including sentient species. Both an absurd take on dating game shows (the music is PERFECT) and wonderfully accurate, pick your questions wisely to find the perfect alien lover.

Alice Anxiety: A Visual Novel that feels like it comes from a really personal place, though this is only a taste of a full game experience. Anxiety is a difficult topic to broach in any medium, and this has the chops to be a great attempt. That it’s a Visual Novel made in Unity really intrigues me, I’d like to learn how to do that myself.

Crossed Paths: Connected Worlds: I love Visual Novels because they’re really accessible for anyone who wants to tell a story, and this short tale about dimension-crossed friends (and lovers) is so charming. I clutched my hands to my heart at LEAST twice. That it’s an initial Ludum Dare entry is super brave and impressive!

Secret Place: Twine Erotica?! Normally the realm of Porpentine, this is a really interesting experience to read through. It manages some really cool design ideas with little technical knowledge. I recommend playing this alongside Porpentine’s Mutant Heat and Pippin Barr’s Hot Coffee for the complete Weird Digital Sex Experience.

Steam: While not a technical marvel, the story written here is so solid it doesn’t matter. Themes of love between races and racial oppression are soberly handled and are married with some REALLY strong lines, but it doesn’t feel ham-fisted in the slightest. I really hope a post-LD version comes out, this is really underrated and will absolutely shine with some polish.

Monster+Connect!: Oh man. The music’s great, the art direction’s bright, the romance is adorable, and the amount of coding effort to make it all work must have been immense! It’s two different Visual Novels in tandem (YEAH THAT’S RIGHT), bringing humans and monsters together in harmony. More games about monstrous relationships need to exist.

Sleep: I have always been a little too scared to make a game that’s fully personal – it’s a kind of vulnerability that takes serious courage to put out there; but I absolutely love that someone has – Sleep is a game I identify with quite heavily in places, and largely makes me want to give everyone a big hug. And then become terrified of doctors.

GET Connected: I love me some cyberpunk settings. I really admire this piece – the developer is more of a writer than a coder, and they made such a polished game out of an older, clunkier engine. If only I had such willpower! In many ways, this plays like the game Watch_Dogs should have been.

TAUPE: I’ve been really impressed by this designer’s games every LD I see them in, and this time is no different. A VERY complete and polished Twine adventure involving well rounded and likeable characters – all generating from a particular choice of colour.

Crece-above-Clouds: This is the most action-y game on this list, but it’s still got a charming relationship in it! The gameplay doesn’t fuck around, but it’s certainly worth a play for the dialogue and general… feeling of the inevitable experience.

World of Beatrice, the girl next door: Overtly feminist and wonderfully so. Works well on its own, but the more time you spend with it, the more obviously it works with the Connected Worlds theme.

There are so many more that I’ve missed out, and with the end of the voting process, I may not even have time to play them – which makes me genuinely sad. Still, that there are so many of these experiences out there beats out the sadness and then some. Well done and thank you again to these designers!

I would absolutely love to be in better contact with other minority game designers, if nothing else to tell them that their work is appreciated and to keep being awesome. If anyone does want to get in contact with me and be Game Design Friends, please do contact me on my Tumblr, Twitter or email me at grooveman(dot)exe(at)googlemail(dot)com. My own entry, Crisis Culture, can be played here.

Thank you.

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