Ludwig Von Beatdown And The Responsibilities of Joking

So I’m making a game called Ludwig Von Beatdown. In fact it’s largely done. It’s a tribute/cover/parody/something of Johann Sebastian Joust by Die Gute Fabrik. In brief, I’d been finding Atari 2600 Basketball really inspiring and fascinating and it struck me as funny (which is how these things almost always happen) to think of a version of Joust done with the huge limitations of an Atari-like game. So just a joystick and a button and very simple graphics. (For those of you retro game buffs, I apologise deeply for not making it exactly like an Atari 2600 game – I just don’t have the time or interest in doing so.)

Now I found this version of Joust funny for a lot of reasons. The main one is that LV Beatdown serves as this super lame, crippled shadow of what Joust does. In many ways it’s the negation of all that is interesting and magical about its inspiration. Most importantly, it’s totally digital, negating Doug’s particular interest in games that eschew overly digital approaches in favour of social norms and physicality. LV Beatdown is like the game Joust is expressly not meant to be, say.

It’s worth making for the laughs, of course, but also because I think there’s not enough “remediation” of games going on. It feels somehow useful as a way to look at what games are doing, why the two versions of the same game are not the same at all. Obviously this is a rather extreme case, but still, right? Right? Or is it all just a cheap laugh? A quick jab of dissonance and then nothing? And whose responsibility is all of this anyway?

The other “responsibility” part of the project comes from the “gameness” of the game. I find myself fretting endlessly about whether the AI is playing well enough, whether the game feels like it’s a good game independent of its status as parody. But it isn’t a very good game. And I’m not sure how much effort I should put into making it better in that regard. How fun should it be? Should it have replay value? How much responsibility do I have to make the game gamey?

I don’t have answers, these are just things I wonder about.

13 September 2012
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