Get X Avoid Y: Covers and Clones

Get X Avoid Y ZORBA

I swore to myself today that I would start a series of posts on Get X Avoid Y that I’ve been meaning to write for approximately three months. The idea was just to pick up on some thematic “stuff” that the game does (in my opinion) as a way to explain a bit better why I think it was interesting – because it was one of those games that didn’t necessarily have much written about it by The Press (thanks for nothing, The Press), and so there isn’t much interpretation out there. So let’s see…

Let us recall that the core of Get X Avoid Y is that it’s the same code every level, but with different graphical assets. The “game” is that you’re trying to click one kind of rotating, moving thing, and you’re trying not to click another kind of rotating, moving thing. And there are particle effects and backgrounds.

One of the things I played around with was the idea of (tongue in cheek!) “cloning” other games by simply replicating their imagery in the game. (This was initially spurred on by hearing Tale of Tales say in a talk that nobody would ever clone one of their games.) More broadly the question being asked here is whether you can also somehow squeeze the “spirit” of these other games into the very simplistic mechanics of Get X Avoid Y. And you kind of can. And you kind of can’t.

Luxuria Superbia is maybe the funniest one (to me) because in some ways it could be considered the closest to approximating the game it represents? But also totally not. One particular thing about the aesthetics of that version that I liked was the approach of doing a “bad job” by literally taking photos of my iPad’s screen and then putting them into the “clone” – I think that gets at something about cloning that’s funny: because normally you’re  being lazy about the code, but fastidious about the graphics, and here it’s just lazy everything. The animation loop is awful. And yet, weirdly, I think there’s some of the joyousness of the original game in there – though I think this says more about how Tale of Tales made a simple game with very impressive aesthetics. (This all also relates back to a game I wanted to make called A Theft [which I could still do?] which involved stealing someone else’s game in the laziest way possible. I was going to steal one of Michael Brough’s though.)

By way of contrast, perhaps, the Problem Attic level is much less successful at even remotely being like its originator. I do like that this is another one that leverages the foreground property of the game, which really didn’t get used very much otherwise. In this version you’re supposed to “get” the avatar and “avoid” the male and female characters in the game. It’s unclear to me how to interpret that – what is this version of the game saying? Is it, like the LIM version, that we’re taking on the role of the “AI” in these games and trying to capture/defeat/destroy the avatar? If so, that’s quite nice as I do like the idea of more games where you end up on the (maybe quite boring) side of being the NPCs. Also intriguing to me is how the Problem Attic level it kind of does capture some of the spatial distortion of the real game (through obfuscation with the foreground layer, and even includes wrapping, both of which feature in the original) but none of the real experience of deciphering space that is so central to what Problem Attic does.

Finally, I’m weirdly attached to the Counter-Strike level of the game because I think if you wanted to provoke (and annoy #gamergate types no doubt) you might claim that there is “no difference” semantically between this game of clicking on terrorists or counter-terrorists, and the actual game. That is, the game could be seen as a kind of derogatory statement about how lame it is to be playing “click to kill” as countless millions are, even as I write these words. Stop all this click to killing!

That’s it. I wrote a thing.

22 October 2014
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