Let War Game loose into the internet this evening. Like every game, there’s plenty I could have done to make it better, but in the end the strong desire to have it out of my hair and to move onto the next thing won out. It’s been one of the strangest games to work on in a way because of the ways in which the “fiction” (what little there is) interfered with everything a great deal.
In some ways every decision I made about the game was for a kind of detached aesthetic effect. And yet each decision had this kind of shadow twin of “seriousness” that I tried to avoid looking at. But not looking doesn’t mean it’s not there. So, for instance, calling it War Game appealed to me in its blunt genericness. But calling it War Game also makes it sound weirdly highfalutin and falsely weighty – the final word on games about war, say. Likewise, the idea of have psych evaluations in a war game struck me as kind of amusing, a weird and jarring counter-point to the action-y nature those games tend to have. Except that there’s a shadow twin of making some kind of commentary on soldiers’ mental states and the attitude of the military toward their mental health. And on and on.
I had a big discussion with Gordon about it a number of weeks ago when I was describing the game, particularly concerning whether I was responsible for the shadow twins. Gordon was a firm yes, at least in terms of being accountable for them and acknowledging they were there. I spent a while trying to say I wasn’t, but I am. It’s a pain, frankly. I just wanted to make a retro handheld game with a glitch aesthetic…
But there are shadow twins everywhere.