Safety Instructions: A Life

Alright, so I released Safety Instructions last Monday, and it’s now Saturday. Already, at least to my beginner’s mind, the game brought me along on a pretty amazing ride, so I thought I’d quickly write up how the experience has been of sending it out into the world and seeing what happens. The lowdown: it’s been a fantastically interesting and often heartwarming experience.

First of all, the very fact that you can make a game, put it on your website, and then say to the (very few!) people you know “I made a game!” is great. The fact that your game gets played by anyone is remarkable. Early on, I really did think to myself about this idea of individual, actual people sitting in front of the game, listening to the music, making typing errors and dying, hopefully having a chuckle, and so on. It’s a beautiful thing.

Since then, the game really has been a huge success in my eyes. I really have very little idea of what might count as some “objective” measure of successful game making (that’s partly why I thought I’d write this post, to record my personal opinion). However, at the moment the game seems to have been played by some 8,500 or so different people (going on statcounter.com’s statistics) and, on its Big Day (Wednesday) over 3,000 people played it. Isn’t that just ridiculous? Now, I know that games on armorgames and so on get literally millions of plays, but I don’t really even begin to understand that. 8,500 real people playing a thing I made? Wonderful! Many probably flipped it off in disgust the minute they started it up… but screw ’em, I got the hit!

The numbers thing is exciting and weird in its newness (my website is, let me assure you, not among the most-visited around, so these thousands of peoples must have given it a heart attack). But the more person-to-person response has of course been the most charming and engaging. There are, at this point, probably too many neat exchanges to account for, so let me just hit you with my current favourite five things related to Safety Instructions being played by real people…

1/ @assassingao, a Thai guy, emailed me out of the blue to say he liked the game and that he had recorded sound files for all the text in it! Seriously, he sent over a bunch of mp3s with pretty awesome dramatic renditions of all the captain’s announcements and the actual instructions. Hearing someone else delivering the line “Oh shit the little kid! Please don’t let me be the guy who lets the little kid die!” is one of the best moments of my life.

2/ In my rather obsessive tracking of how the game did, I found a forum thread on a babies and pregnancy website where mothers with or expecting children were recommending the games to each other and talking about how addictive it was. Best of all was a couple of them talking about banning their husbands from the room so they could concentrate!

3/ The website silvergames.com stole my game! Maybe this will annoy me one day, I suppose, but for now my mind is blown that this happened at all. It seems like an amazing kind of validation to see my game sitting their on their website with a misleading copyright statement, alongside such Flash gems as “Don’t Shit Your Pants”. It’s one of those “made it!” moments.

4/ Appearing on indiegames.com. Another “made it moment”. I absolutely don’t conceive of myself as an “Indie” or an “independent game developer” or anything, for reasons I’m not entirely sure of, but having a kind of official “this is indie” from one of the major sites is an incredible feeling.

5/ A text file from Fraser Allison of Red King’s Dream (down last time I tried, unfortunately) showing his practice at one of the more nightmarish Nightmare mode texts. Line after line of text from the game, obsessively written as if by Jack Nicholson’s character from The Shining, as Fraser pointed out himself. My new favourite talisman.

Anyway, those are some moments and thoughts from the life of a little game on the internet. It occurs to me that we (or at least I) don’t necessarily see enough of the developer’s side of the equation at a more personal level of relating to the life of their games.

In other news, I am in the middle of making a new game, but it’s driving me insane, so I’m taking a break and playing Portal 2 instead. Hah!

20 August 2011
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