I am awestruck with how much the gaming community has become actively more inclusive in recent years. It is because of charities like The AbleGamers Foundation and Child’s Play that gaming is spanning generations and breaking new ground in accessibility. This post is short notice, but I would be remised if I didn’t talk about some wonderful charity events that are happening in October.
This is a charity event put on by The AbleGamers Foundation and it’s TODAY, October 8th.
It’s a 24 hour streaming event sponsored through Twitch. You can go, register, and become a donor group. You can also donate directly on their website. You can start streaming a game via Twitch, and raise money for all the technological advancements that AbleGamers keeps delivering time and time again. The control scheme market wouldn’t have changed without their efforts, and I am proud to see how far they have come in recent years.
I won’t be able to participate in streaming this year, but I urge you to check out what some awesome groups are doing today to raise money. I am sure you’ll find a game you’ll enjoy watching, or even a story that touches your heart. These players are phenomenal human beings. The thought that just one day of donations can get one accessible controller into a kid’s hands warms my heart.
Go support some amazing gamers and enhance the gaming community: Ability 2016
Now this charity is also one near and dear to my heart. I live, breathe, eat and sleep tabletop gaming these days. BrigadeCon was started back in 2014, and now it’s into it’s third inception and I couldn’t be prouder to be a part of this. The proceeds go straight towards Child’s Play, and it’s a charity that hits extremely close to home. I remember being that kid. I remember sitting in recovery rooms, having to find anything to occupy me while I recovered from surgery.
Gaming was my outlet. It was a way for me to connect with others in my worst moments.
We give back games, toys, movies, and interactive experiences to kids who are stuck in the hospital dealing with extremely trying, and emotional experiences. Child’s Play provides a sense of home, a sense of normalcy in a chaotic moment in a child’s life. I remember how much they did for me when I was growing up and I am so thankful for Seattle Children’sHospital for starting such an amazing organization.
BrigadeCon 2016 is a 24 hour online gaming fundraising convention on October 29th.
All the games will be streamed via Youtube.
BrigadeCon 2016 aims to surpass everything we’ve done in recent years though, which is why you should be a part of it! You should care about it and get involved! If you love tabletop gaming as much as we do, I urge you to head over to: http://www.brigadecon.org; sign up, and register to be an attendant. You could run an event, play in a game, sit in on some EPIC panels – it’s all up to you!
Here is my buddy, Barker aka BeABetterGamemaster, to explain a bit about BrigadeCon:
I am going to be running a game and hosting a panel on voice acting this month.
I hope to see you all there! Go out, game, and may that game make a difference in a life.
In a previous blog post a few years ago, I mentioned the social and developmental benefits of roleplaying games.
Tabletop gaming has come a long way in terms of popularity, and I’ve found that there is research out there that supports the use of tabletop gaming as a form of therapy. I want to thank, Nate from WASD20, for bringing the following organization to my attention.
On January 29th, 2016 – PNWATRA comes to Portland, OR.
The American Therapeutic Recreation Association specializes in providing rehabilitation and recreational therapy services to promote health and wellness in patients. I am fascinated by ATRA’s work, and I wish I could attend this year. Presenter, Hawke Robinson, will be presenting a discussion on RPG’s as a form of Modality Therapy.
It may not appeal to everyone, but I urge you to take a look at his former presentation, or even visit his seminar this year. He gives insight to how we can take the RPG community to a level where it goes from just a fun past time, to a meaningful, viable form of therapy for people with OT/PT/ST treatments.
The social interactions alone speak volumes and, I can say from personal perspective, that I would have loved to have RPG’s as a form of therapy in my youth. A patient dealing with modality complications can improve their confidence, social interactions, mobility, and interpersonal goals in recovery through RPG therapy.
The RPG community is vastly becoming viral, mobile, and inclusive via Facebook, Google+, and Youtube. If patients/players are wanting a more face to face interaction though, I highly recommend you check out this wonderful project being headed up near my own neck of the woods:
This project is being headed by Robinson in Spokane, and unfortunately, he hasn’t seen enough traffic to make this happen. It’s been 7 months, and not much has changed. Hawke, I love what you’re doing sir and I want to see this come to life. RPGs offered so much for me as a child and, even now, as an adult.
It means so much to me that you’re passionate about this goal of inclusion and developmental research. I want to reach out and help promote this goal, because I know many more than myself could benefit from such a wonderful service. If you ever need a DM to help run games for this when the trailer is finally finished, please feel free to contact me.
God Bless you Hawke!
You make so many people’s lives better through this research.
It’d be a blessing and a joy to bring recreational enjoyment of RPG’s to others!
It is rare that we find aspects of our life that evoke so much passion for us on a daily basis. I recently read a series of articles written by blogger T.R. Knight and his wife, Angie. These articles were so moving and evoking of what I aim to shed light on in the gaming universe that I couldn’t hesitate to share them with you all. I hope you read through these articles and you share in the same joy, respect, and admiration that I have for this couple’s commitment to each other in gaming and in life.
T.R. Knight is a fellow blogger and gamer whose personal journey in gaming brought me to tears the first time I read his article. He and his wife, Angie, are living a gamer’s life and making it work even through the struggles of MS. Angie was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in July 1997, and yet, that hasn’t slowed down this couple’s love and drive for gaming. It is their passionate and loving story that I am so attached to. Tabletop gaming has become an outlet for them, as it helps fit within Angie’s current MS symptoms.
I will admit, as a writer and gamer, I never thought that tabletop gaming could be used in this fashion. A therapeutic, social interaction that allows for those with agility/mobility and memory issues to still be active within the gaming community. T.R. and Angie are sharing with me a whole new outlook on how to run games, what aspects to focus on, and what styles of gaming are most accommodating to patients with MS. I am blessed and honored to be sharing their story with you now.
T.R. has taken it upon himself to give a valuable resource of MS symptoms and how they have impacted Angie and their gaming life in his most recent blog. Angie has also taken to his blog and posted her personal perspective on what games appeal to her. I’m going to definitely take these aspects into account as I go forward and progress as a game designer. I hope, T.R. and Angie, that one of these days I’ll have helped a company build a game, or design my own, that both of you will be able to enjoy.
Please feel free to read through all their articles, as they are a joy to read and offer amazing insights into a side of the gaming universe I think many of us rarely see, or forget exists.
T.R., you are truly a knight among men sir. I am honored to be among your supporting guild, and will continue to share the knowledge you and Angie have to give the world. God bless you both on your path as family, loving companions, and exceptional gamers!
Accessibility for All. Happy gaming to you and your family!
It’s been ages since I’ve posted one of these, but this story hit my desk this morning and I felt compelled to share it:
How many of us have lost loved ones to some form of physical disability? – some form of debilitating disease? Well in the case of Keith Knight – he’s losing many. He, along with many of his friends, deal with a variation of muscular dystrophy. Knight, though not having dystrophy himself, suffers from a condition known as Amyoplasia Arthrogrypos. This condition caused him to be born with less muscle mass than he was supposed to be born with. The condition has worsened over time – causing his joints to stiffen and fuse. He has an intimate and close relation with those of the MDAcommunity. A friend of his recently passed away due to complications with the disease. In honor of his friend’s passing it has inspired him to take a stand for the MDA community in one of the most positive ways I can ever dream up.
This guy is truly a Legend in my book!
He intends to play games for charity.
Knight has been streaming his play sessions of Guild Wars 2 and League of Legends in efforts to raise money for Walk for Muscular Dystrophy that took place in Canada on Sept. 22nd, 2012. Now certainly we’ve heard of people playing games to raise money for charity. I make mention of it all the time on here, but why is this special to me? – because of how Knight does what he does! You would never think that he could play like he does because of his stiff joints and lessened mobility, but he has found a way to make himself competitive despite his physical hardships. I’ll gladly try and embed the stream link on this article for you all to follow today and tomorrow. This guy is fantastic and an inspiring hero for people struggling with this disease.
He may not be able to walk, but his message will reach millions.
He uses his face for all of the inputs! He uses his chin to move the joysticks, and his nose and lips to input button presses. He has since moved on to PC gaming, as you can clearly see, but he still remains competitive. He places the mouse next to his cheek and uses a pen to provide for the button inputs! He’s remarkable and Keith, if you get a chance to read this, just know that I love what you’re doing man. You are truly an inspiration – not only to the MDA community – but to people around the world. I admire you for your strength and positive outlook in times of hardship and I can’t wait to show your video to everyone to get the word out.
So, please, if you have a moment – stop by his Twitch.tv thread and watch him play.
It’s pretty amazing to watch, and thank you to all who donated to this wonderful cause – Keith raised over $ 7,797.00!
Keith – more power to you man! I noticed in the article that you’re an aspiring game designer: Let me know when you graduate man. I would love to work with you some day, as I’m sure many of my fellow readers would as well. You are truly someone special and meaningful to this world sir!
Hey there world, now I know I’ve been touting E3 Impressions all over the place this week, BUT you guys know [ if you’re regular viewers ] my real mission for this blog isn’t just to talk about or develop games, but rather give back to my community via games. It’s been a while since I’ve found a reason to celebrate games as a charity – today I may have found the golden egg of ALLHumble Bundles! Yep – that’s right! This Humble Bundle supports the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Child’s Play. These charities help fund education and support providing video games to hospitals to provide kids with entertainment and fun.
Indie Games UNITE!
Now why am I so stoked about THISHumble Bundle V? WELL, as a designer, there comes a time where I have found games which I personally feel that no designer should go without playing. The games which should be your guide to artsy, pop-culture, wonder hits. The games that, whether it be mechanics, storyline, or artwork, blew fellow designers and myself away with how amazing these games were for some reason or another. So without further adieu let’s pull back the curtain on what I believe to be the BIGGEST, and BESTHumble Bundle package yet! Oh, and by the way, Tim Schafer is in the trailer!
1. Superbrothers: Sword and Sorcery EP
Now I saw this game when it first came out as a tablet PC and iPhone game – and I was stunned by how cool it looked. It’s retro artistic vibe, with it’s text based dialogue, and it’s almost Zelda like adventure blew me away, and made me want to get a iPhone so bad! I’m stoked that it’s finally coming to a platform where I can have access to it and play it first hand all the way through! The story, art, and gameplay mechanics are something to admire and watch!
Here’s looking at you Tri-Force!
This game haunts my nightmares with how hauntingly beautiful and morbid this game is. You play as a young boy who is traversing this monochromatic black and white dreamscape. The puzzles are morbid and often end in the death of your character, but he comes back to life for you to try and try again. The gameplay mechanics are super simple [ one button for jump, the movement keys, and then another button to grab items ]
While it may seem odd and sort of macabre to take part in this death-defying dream puzzler, Limbo is hands down one of my favorite indie games. Each puzzle is super challenging and it keeps you invested with the emotion you feel for your little digital friend as he makes this journey. Produced by a company called Play Dead Studios [ fitting name ] it’s definitely one of the must see games on this list.
One small step for man… one giant leap for a boy.
3. Amnesia: The Dark Descent
I actually have never had first hand experience with this game, but that’s also because I tend to shy away from the horror genre of games. I’m trying my best to branch out though, and from what I’ve heard of this game – it’s a must see and experience. I’ll keep you all posted on the accessibility and the gameplay once I buy it and run a play through. Here is a trailer though, to give you an idea of the game:
Well, if this wasn’t the icing on the delicious cake that is this Humble Bundle V. Everyone should know by now that I’m sort of in love with a company called Double Fine Productions. I’m kind of infatuated with them and have been a long time fan of their work. Tim Schafer is like an icon in this industry to me, and one of the main reasons he’s had such an impact on my gaming life is because of THIS game!
Psychonauts is a quirky, off-the-wall, fun and whimsical adventure game. You – well, I would explain it, but honestly, the trailer speaks for itself:
Thanks Mr. Schafer. Thank you and your team for building such a memorable game.
5. Bastion [ If you pay over the average donation, which is $ 8.26 ]
A high-octane platforming narrative that really grasps you from the seat of your pants and carries you all the way to the end… umm… well, I guess there’s a better way to explain it. Perhaps the narrator of the game can:
6. Lone Survivor [ If you pay over the average donation. ]
This is one of the newest editions to the indie house of lovely games. You play as well, a lone survivor, in a pixelated platforming world. Evade pixel zombies, collect loot and resources, and do your best to survive this horrible fate – or you know? Die trying.
One man. Many zombies. All Pixels.
7. Braid [ If you pay over the average donation. ]
Well, how to describe this one? Oh yeah! Take a sprinkle of Prince of Persia [ the time altering ] and then add in some crazy puzzle mechanics that take my breathe away, and THEN compile it on one of the most beautifully retro, hand painted styles of art and graphics I’ve seen on an indie game and you’d have Braid. Enough said – for now.
Let’s do the Time Warp again!
8. Super Meat Boy [ If you pay over the average donation. ]
What do you get when you give a meat wad a lover? – separate them by force, and then ask the meat wad to come rescue his meaty bride? Well you get Super Meat Boy, and it’s one of the most odd, interesting, and funny experiences I’ve had in a game before. The game is definitely challenging, but it’s well worth the challenge – because the designers put so much time, effort, and love into this game. There is no way you’ll walk away from this game without a big, meaty smile on your face!
I’ll save you my ham-flavored princess! I just have to grind my way up the food chain!
I would try to give folks a full run down of all of these games [ and I may later ], but I would be so excited that it would take me a page for each one. Think about this for one moment. You not only get the GAMES, but you also acquire their SOUNDTRACKS – and ALL of these amazingly historic games can be gathered up for less than $10 dollars!! Are you kidding me right now?! That’s like someone knocking on your door mid-June and saying “Merry Christmas stranger!” leaving you some of the most lavish gifts they can give and then just driving away!
If you know nothing of these games, know this: Each of these games, in my personal opinion, contain an aspect of game design that I think EVERY designer should experience. Whether you’re a painter, a fashion designer, a game designer, or even a teacher – YOU SHOULD try these games. They’re emotional, challenging, and engaging stories that have captivated millions in the industry for one reason or another! What once were indie games nobody knew of, and few dared to explore, are some of the most cherished gems in gaming now. So, please, do yourself a favor and support a wonderful charity and grab these fantastic games while you still can.
YOU HAVE 5 Days left! 5! Games are supported for PC, Mac, and Linux! Go now and get your HUMBLE BUNDLE V! Make the most of it! Let your indie gamer live!
I always find it a charming experience when I can find games made from foreign countries that can make me smile. In this month’s case of The Humble Bundle – I think I’ve found a new love in a game design company. Now you all may have been around when I touched on Machinarium during my Point and Click Adventures post , and let’s just say if you liked that you’ll certainly love the package that the Humble “Botanicula” Debut gives you.
Created by Czech Republic indie company Amanita Design these games are fantastic, whimsical, and will charm their way into your hearts with their simplistic, engaging, and emotionally heartwarming gameplay. The glorious thing about it all, is that you pay what YOU want for the Bundle – and your donations go to a wonderful cause – we’ve been through this routine before with past Humble Bundles if you’ve followed my blog. I’m telling you now they’re wonderful money-saving, cause caring little bundles and you should really check them out.
In the Humble Botanicula Debut you’ll receive the following:
Kooky – An indie movie by Amanita Design
Windosill – if you pay over the average donation – which is 8.77 as of now
So, now to try and examine each one, in short, to prove you get your money’s worth.
In the newest release from Amanita Design, you play as a quirky little gang of misfit tree creatures [ one looks like a stick, the other an acorn or seed, one looks like a fruit, etc. ] and you must guide them about this fantastically artistic world to save their forest homeland from spider invaders. Does this sound fun yet? – well it should! The game has a sense of whimsical charm I haven’t seen in ages, and it’s point and click storybook humor and gameplay make it not only simple, but a game that can be enjoyed by players of all age groups.
One small step for seeds - one giant leap for a forest.
I really have nothing bad to say about this game, because it doesn’t have dialogue from what I’ve experienced, and if it’s anything like most Amanita Design games, they’ve taken into account deaf players and either added no necessity for sound, or some sort of written or picture instruction [ in Machinarium, they used picture instructions so I’m leaning on the same vein. ] The colors are vivid and the animations are child-like and gorgeous. The mechanics are easy enough via point and click mechanics – so if you’ve got a mouse, even those with limited mobility will be able to play this game.
We're your friends! We're your friends! We're your friends till the bitter end!
The color scheme is the only thing that scares me, not being color blind I don’t know how this will affect colorblind gamers, but there’s quite a few spots where I felt that the colors of the background and items tended to have similar color tones, and that may cause some issues, but the characters and backgrounds I feel are vivid enough to counteract that. If any color-blind gamer gives this game a shot, let me know your personal opinion. I would love to hear it from a person who’s had first hand experience. Overall though, the game is charming and can be played by practically anyone – I totally endorse it as a must see game.
Some of you have probably already heard of my ringing endorsement of Machinarium, but in case you haven’t, please check out my post on Point and Click Adventures.
If there ever was a game that I could honestly say had an almost Salvador Dali feel to it then it would have to be Samorost, but it’s sequel brethren Samorost 2 is no different. Now in Samorost 2 you play as a little man who’s dog has been kidnapped by alien invaders. They’ve taken your dog and now you must fly off to go on a grand quest to save him and find a way to return home. This basic and charming premise leads to one of the most heartwarming and light-hearted stories I’ve seen in ages.
Excuse me, but umm - have you seen a dog about Mr. Aardvark?
Now the games difficulty can become a bit tedious, as this point and click adventure game doesn’t hold your hand. You’re not told what does what, and you’re not told what items you can click on – so you’re sort of shooting in the dark, but I think that’s the joy of point and click adventure games. It’s a puzzle from the moment you walk into an environment. The game really has no dialogue, except for some sounds here and there, and so it can be played rather well by deaf gamers. The game is, once again, for all ages too. It provides a whimsical and exhilarating change of pace from the stereotypical game culture of FPS’s and MMO’s that we have floating around today.
Oh Wise Big Head! Me and my pup want to go home!
The color schemes are great, vibrant colors with distinct tones to separate one object from the other without being too offensive to the eyes. Samorost 2 is truly a treat, and I suggest anyone who loves any of these games today to seriously check it out. If you’re unsure still and you want to give the game a whirl you can try out the demo – or try out the full version of it’s predecessor Samorost. It’ll truly be a surrealist gaming experience that I feel you’ll cherish in your heart for a while.
Now Kooky isn’t even a game, but rather, it breaks from the traditional design medium of Amanita Design by being a MOVIE. This movie has everything going for it, and while at first I was skeptical of having an indie game company design and produce an indie film, I was proven wrong with my foot in my mouth when I watched the trailer. If you personally loved the movie “Where The Wild Things Are” or have ever watched any Muppet/puppet based movie – you’ll probably love Kooky.
A picture of the Kooky puppets from a museum exhibit
Kooky is a tale about a little teddy bear who gets lost from his owner, and must travel across a forest in search of him. This basic principle has been done before, by many successful franchises [ in fact I’m pretty sure Winnie The Pooh was made off the idea of adventuring to find Christopher Robin ] but my point is this – this movie will captivate you. The movie is captivating, in my eyes, because of the use of materials and the use of Czech actors actually portraying the English speaking roles. The accents portrayed give a wonderful tone to the movie, and the puppets are gritty, odd, and out-of-this-world unique.
You can see Kooky in all of it’s glory in both the Czech/English Dub, or you can watch it in Czech with English subtitles – and to think you can get this ALL of these for less than 10 dollars? I’m definitely looking forward to seeing the whole thing, and you should too. Here’s the trailer to show you how amazing of an experience you’re bound to have:
[ Yes, that’s Jeremy Irons being Narrator ^_^ If that doesn’t sell you… ]
If you’re looking for a completely bonkers, unusually artsy experience well then look no further than Patrick Smith of Vector Park and his odd-ball game of Windosill. The game look like it came out of a child’s nursery, if it was the nursery of a famous artist of course. My point is this game will be odd, I’m certain of it – but after playing the demo I’m completely intrigued. There are a couple of issues I have with the game that limit it’s accessibility, but overall it’s grand.
Well, this is a look into a person's closet...
The first would be the color tones. I’m in love with the artwork that Smith has portrayed, but the rooms often carry very similar color tones, and for color blind gamers that can make differentiating items difficult to determine. The other is that, because there is no instruction what so ever you’re tossed in blindly to finding out how to access new areas – what items do, etc. It’s a very odd game to say the least, but it’s a beautiful game and if you’re looking for something oddball to pass the time I’d definitely say you should be glad to pick this up.
So there you have it folks! Four fantastically artistic indie games that are both simple to play and beautiful to look at, and one intriguing childhood whimsical film that I’m exceptionally excited about. You can grab all of these for less than 10 dollars currently and you’re donations are not going to waste either. You’ll be aiding the World Land Trust, an organization that works to promote conservation of our world’s natural rain forests. So please, if you’re in a gaming mood and in a giving mood – I suggest stopping over and checking out the Humble “Botanicula” Bundle.
You’ll be glad you did. The Bundle is going to be running for 13 more days so get your button clicking fingers ready and pay what you want for a fantastic good time!
Well, if this isn’t a glorious day? A glorious gaming day which allows me to provide more opportunity for gaming AND aiding my fellow gamer. Folks, if you haven’t heard of a lovely little program called the Humble Bundle. You’re missing out. Honestly, I’m kind of sad that I haven’t mentioned this before now – I apologize profusely. So, what exactly is this Humble Bundle thing? Well, it’s a collection of games that comes out on a rather regular basis. [ Opportunities vary so I’ll keep up with it and provide updates for sure! ] This month a new Humble Bundle has been released and here’s what you need to know:
The Humble Bundle for Android 2 is a game collection that helps charity, and if you’ve followed my posts, you know how devoted I am to giving back to gamers in some fashion. The proceeds go to help the Child’s Play charity and the EFF [ Electronic Frontier Foundation ] If you want to know more about the organizations you can check out the Organizations section of my blog. The glorious thing about this whole project is that you can pay what you want for the WHOLE Bundle! You get five wonderful games [ six, if you donate over the average donation! ]for one easy donation:
Snuggle Truck is a quirky game from developers, Owlchemy Labs, which puts you in the driver seat of a flat bed truck driver who delivers – what else? Snuggly stuffed animals. The quirk here is that, instead of your basic 9 – 5 traditional commute, you’re driving your flat bed truck into swirling, winding and twisting race tracks.
The cutest escape that's ever been attempted!
The goal here is to try and keep your lovely little stuffed pets within your truck at all costs and get them to a zoo that will provide their cuddly bits with all the care they deserve. You earn points based on how many pets you kept within your truck by the end of the track.
Developed by Semi Secret Software, Canabalt is reminiscent of a traditional jumper game. Your character starts running as soon as the game starts and your score is based off how far you can run across the rooftops. It’s a very basic game, but it’s so exhilarating tense and fun. It can be played online for free, but you get it in a package for your Humble Bundle! How cool is that? The game continues to get faster and faster and the music is cinematic and intense. The bonus with getting this Humble Bundle version of Canabalt is that it allows for 2 player multiplayer! Enjoy!
Run Forest! Run!!
Zen Bound 2:
Zen Bound 2 is the sequel to Zen Bound by Secret Exit and it’s a wonderfully peaceful puzzle game. You are given a statue, reminiscent of a particular object, and then are required to wrap a piece of rope around it. Everywhere the rope touches gets lit up with color and thus – the concept of Zen Bound 2 is born! Enjoy this tranquil puzzle game that is both casual and mind-bending all at the same time!
How dare you invade my space? I shall bind you where you stand!
Cogs is another grand puzzle game within this Humble Bundle. This sliding puzzle game from Lazy 8 Games gives us steampunk junkies a bit of a swooning factor. The game essentials are as follows: Slide the pieces of pipe around until all the pipes and cogs connect correctly, to allow the actual puzzle to spring to life. How cool is that? Here’s particular rocket puzzle to get your lips smacking!
Rocket Man! Making sure my pipes are working' y'all!
Avadon: The Black Fortress:
Do you like RPG’s? Do you find turn-based RPG’s tend to have died off with all sorts of games other than Final Fantasy? Well then have no fear – Avadon is here! This game from Spider Web Software is vintage RPG. Battle across mass maps in an old-school RPG that will make you swoon for vintage consoles and the old days of gaming. Check out this screenshot of the game and you’ll see what I mean. Inventory, Parties, and RPG upgrade fun:
Oh look at how it's ma' inventory! Hot dog!
Swords and Soldiers [ if you donate over the highest average donation]
Swords and Soldiers is a side-scrolling action game. You control a variation of warriors ranging from Vikings, Chinese warriors, and Aztec shamans to thwart off hoards of enemies as you go along your way through the side-scrolling environment. While this game is available on the SOE [ Sony Entertainment Network, or PSN ] who would want to pass up an opportunity to get the game by the use of a donation? The game is pretty addictive and the coloration is comical while still being entertaining and aggressive. Here’s a screenshot of the action:
This lil' Viking went to town, a' smashin' on a monster!
The games are available for practically every platform you could ask for:
I’m a huge fan of these opportunities and I urge folks who are really looking for some great indie games to jump on this opportunity to help a wonderful cause. This Humble Bundle is going to be open for 5 MORE DAYS , so you won’t have long to grab these great games while you can! You’ll be helping children experience the joy of gaming and you’ll be helping yourself to the same thing! Here is a trailer from the Humble Bundle to you:
Well folks, I know I talk about a lot of things here at Gastrogamer. Everything from modern video games, to indie video games, to games that have one button inputs, to games that have causes attached. Today it’s no different, as I’m bringing you guys a very simple game promoted by the ISDR [ International Strategy for Disaster Reduction ] called Stop Disasters! The game was developed by a little indie company called Playerthree, and while it may look simple, the information it provides is life saving.
The concept of the game is this:
You are given 5 scenarios to choose from at the start of the game:
You are given 3 Difficulty settings per scenario:
Easy [ Small Map ]
Medium [ Medium Map ]
Hard [ Large Map ]
You enter the scenario and immediately you’re put in a position of power. The interface loads and explains to you the area in which the disaster is going to take place, who is this going to affect, and the tasks, money, and time you have to aid them. It may not seem like much, especially when you witness that the UI of the game contains very stagnant 8-bit grid visuals, but the information provided by each play through, I personally believe is what the true benefit of this game shines in.
Devastation after Hurricane Katrina in 2005
The Japan Tsunami 2011
Haiti Earthquake 2010
It seems now like every year a natural disaster occurs somewhere in our world. In the past few years I’ve experienced more reporting on natural disasters than I care to recollect. Every event from Hurricane Katrina to the most recent Japanese Tsunami/Earthquake – and even now, just this year, we were riddled with tornadoes in the United States.
The massive devastation that all of these events cause is outrageous, and the death tolls for most of these events would drive any man, or woman, sick to their stomaches with agony and despair. This is why I personally feel this game is important, because it helps provide players with information on how to better prepare themselves for when disasters strike.
Indiana Tornadoes 2012
The ISDR has made it their mission to provide students, parents, and children with information about the dangers of disasters and how we as human beings can do something to stop them. They take you through precautionary measures and as you go through the game and complete tasks, certain tasks you complete will bring up information sheets about why the task you completed was pertinent to the survival of the people in the area. I personally found the game to be engaging, fun, and educational.
Stop Disasters Screenshot. It may not look like much, but it can save lives.
True, the UI is rather stagnant, because it doesn’t move as you change tiles around, upgrade housing, etc. and so it can look quite boring, but the knowledge you learn is the intriguing factor here. You find yourself wanting to learn more and more about disaster relief efforts, and when your funds finally run out, or the buzzer finally goes off, you’re anxiously anticipating to see if you did well.
I found that there was a drastic pull of emotion that I felt when each scenario started. I wanted each of those virtual people [ moving or not ] to live. I wanted to find out if I had done enough to save them, and I think that speaks a lot to human nature and our sense of compassion for others.
This is amazing. Students learning through the power of a video game.
It’s simple, it’s educational, and it’s fully accessible. Every button can be accessed with a single button click and each tile can be changed just as easily. The educational value of this title, far outweighs the visual appeal of the title – so don’t let the bland 8-bit grid scheme fool you. There is value here, and I hope that by playing this and gaining information via their website will help aid people with the knowledge of preventative measures for the future.
Take care folks! Thank you for playing! and I hope this message of hope and education spreads!
Today’s Game of the Week relates to recent topics that I’ve discussed on Gastrogamer. If readers will remember my admiration of Jane McGonigal, then you’ll see why I think this game would fit fondly into her game design forte. McGonigal is all about the development of humanity through gaming, and Spent gives a player to experience a part of the human society that I think sometimes we can overlook. Spent was developed by the Urban Ministries of Durham and a company called McKinney. Urban Ministries of Durham help in serving homeless shelters and providing for food for impoverished families in Durham, NC. The goal of Spent is to give players a chance to see if they can deal with the same hardships that many people go through daily.
Can you live for a month on 1000 dollars?
The game is pretty simplistic as far as mechanics go. The game only requires a mouse click to choose options, but what makes this game unique is that each choice you make is important to your survival and completion of the game. You log on and immediately you are thrown into an interface that challenges you with a premise:
“Urban Ministries of Durham serves over 6,000 people a year. But you’d never need help would you?”
The immediate human response that we get when challenged is to prove to others, as well as ourselves, that we can do the scenario that’s been posed to us. Spent forces the player to be in the position of an alternate scenario as if it was their own life. Each decision you make is met with trivia that expresses the hardships of low-income families. This game touched me emotionally, because it gives life a different perspective and makes you value every humbling reward of your life. You value your families successes, your financial security, your insurance, etc. You learn to appreciate your own life as you play through this game. This is why I recommend at least viewing it.
People often need aid from others, thus the Facebook attachments to the game, provide an even more realistic view to this simplistic game. Everyone, on occasion, requires the need to lean on other people for assistance. This game teaches us that we can’t always rely on ourselves to make it through our struggles, but sometimes we need to look to our friends and family for aid. It really opens up our eyes to the value of friendship and love and how hardships can bring individuals together.
I think the best portion of this game was the music though, because it gives a foreboding suspense to every decision you make throughout the game. This game is enlightening and gives an eye-opening experience that I feel like movies and television can’t even begin to grasp. Movies and television only allow us to visually experience a scenario, but given a game that puts us in the position of poverty, Spent gives us an even deeper understanding of the seriousness of our financial crisis and poverty.
I recommend this game, because games like this give us a deeper view of the world going on around us. It may seem like a depressing, dark, and foreboding game, but overall, the emotional impact of the gameplay is worth taking the challenge for. You can learn more about the Urban Ministries of Durham here:
Hopefully more games like this will come to fruition in the future, so that we can clearly see challenges that happen every day in our human society. We may sit at home and feel so secure, but in an instant, anyone can become unemployed, homeless, or living paycheck to paycheck. I feel so passionate about this movement, especially since the designers come from an area close to where I grew up. I would love to see more games discuss real human difficulties.
Please don’t give me more zombie apocalypses, or space warfare. These games are unrealistic and give me, and many players, fantasy realms to escape our dire realities from. If we spent more time as designers focusing on human hardships, relationships, and struggles ; then perhaps we can find cures, aid, and suggestions for some of our societies biggest problems. How many hit-points does my orc’s armor have in World of Warcraft? – I pray is not someone’s end-all-be-all lifetime concern for this world. If so, I really hope they consider the many struggles others are going about life with before they see their lack of proficient raiding armor as “a struggle.”
Now does that mean that all games should be ultra-realistic and I want to see all fantasy games destroyed? No, not at all, but I think a lot of games can take a page out of Spent’s playbook by giving players problems to solve and decisions to make. Bioware, Blizzard, and many MMO companies have been good at trying to implement these aspects into their games, but the truth is, they’re only aiding in solving fantasy problems.Where is the game where our fantasy hero is a person, not some fantasy Spartan, or some inhuman fantasy character who can tinker his, or her, way out of everything?
I want to feel like my choices in a game make a difference, teach me something that I wouldn’t have learned without playing it, give me a deeper understanding of the world around me. These are the types of games I look forward to going forward in the history of our world, and I believe that Spent is only a small trinket of gaming goodness that can be used to create even more meaningful and commanding experiences for us to learn from as human beings.
Enjoy folks! – and here’s your question: Can you Prove It?