I’m not sure what it is about the end of summer, but I found myself flitting about like a social butterfly again this week at the final showcase for Critical Hit 2013, a games collaboratory sponsored by the TAG Centre at Concordia University, Dawson CEGEP and Decode Global that focuses on innovative games that deal with social, political, or cultural concerns.
There were four games produced this year, each with their own approach to gameplay, aesthetics and how to broach their messages. All the games were playable at the event, held at the Montreal campus of Google (they have a climbing wall next to the lobby, wha?!), which was nearly as exciting as the event itself.
Unfortunately, (or fortunately, I suppose) there were too many people lined up to play games so I focused on networking and formally meeting the other people I’ve been Twitter-stalking that I hadn’t gotten a chance to meet in my previous social flitterings.
That said, I still wanted to take a minute to tell you about the games in the showcase. I’m not sure what the plans are for release for any of them, but I was definitely struck by the quality on offer and hope that I will get a chance to play all of them in the future.
Assembling Rosie is a 2D puzzle platformer that uses a zombie narrative to examine the cultural expectations that society puts on women. You play as Rosie, a young zombie who must reconstruct her rotting limbs with what she finds in her environment in order to solve puzzles and find brains. However, as her appearance changes, so to do the attitudes of the characters around her, which can help or hinder her progress.
Rat Story is a 3D platformer set in a Ship Breaking yard where you play as a rat, tasked with finding food, avoiding toxins and most of all staying away from that cat! The idea behind the game was to bring attention to the terrible conditions of third-world “recycling” activities where the poor eek out a living off of the western world’s waste.
Skipping Stones is a meditative exploration game with a soundtrack generated by how you interact with the environment you’re exploring. A generative sound and poetry engine powers this examination of the emotions and trauma surrounding loss.
And finally, War Agent is an 8-bit style sim game where you play as an arms dealer, navigating both sides of a conflict in order to make the most profit. As well as putting the player in the role of a war profiteer, they are also forced to examine the unintended consequences of their actions on a global scale.
Although I didn’t get a chance to play the games at the event, I hope I get a chance to in the future and I wish all the creators the best of luck in finishing and (hopefully) releasing their games to the world at large.