I keep a spreadsheet of my unplayed games, so I know I have about 900 titles waiting in my backlog, not counting all the interesting free stuff I have bookmarked. Even if I cut out all the crap I don’t really intend to play (most of it, honestly) that’s still an awful lot of games, and even short things will usually take a while to get to. Games are not static, and can keep moving in the meantime.
[Just a minor spoiler warning for Gone Home on this one]
It’s like my teenage self never really left, they’re just hidden beneath a few fresh coats of paint. An old memory or visit from my parents and suddenly there I am brooding in the corner, feeling misunderstood and trying to make sense of things. I don’t have any warm feelings about growing up and I’d much prefer to forget what it’s like to be incomplete and shaped primarily by others. I had a fairly innocuous, privileged upbringing. I hate to think what it’s like for someone with more to escape.
Gone Home wants me to remember, but I can’t hate it for that. Somehow it reaches in and makes me care, even though I don’t want to remember. Somehow it becomes relevant to my life, even though I have very little in common with these people.
I made a Twine game earlier this year. You can play it here if you want. By now Fogged Up Mirror's had plenty of chance to be experienced on its own terms and I feel like dissecting it a bit.
This is just the sort of zinester project some people love to look down on. You can tick the boxes: short, linear, personal, can't control the outcome, lacks challenge. Game making as catharsis and self-care, with a small dose of education for the people around me. It's not even trying to be particularly appealing, really. I only expect interest from people who care about me personally, particularly like Twine games, or possibly have an investment in gender and identity issues.
[Trigger warning: Suicide, Alcohol]
Amazingly, the first sip can still make me shudder as it goes down, as though it's an unfamiliar substance. Even this is part of the ritual; a tiny moment of uncertainty before surrendering to it. Deep red poison sliding down my throat. It becomes an internal crimson stream, promising to smooth the mind's anxious furrows the way water acts on river stones. A pretty lie, but sometimes that's enough.
When the glass isn't there a part of me still reaches for it and, ever unsatisfied, continues to search restlessly for the thing that's missing. No matter how many distractions and substitutes I find part of me will still be looking for that simple release. I look for ways to ignore it and box my compulsions away, taping them down with personal rules and schedules. Sometimes I even follow them.
It's okay. Just so long as the stream doesn't swell and threaten to flood. I'm okay.
I have a special place in my heart for the original Tomb Raider game, but Lara Croft and I have never exactly been friends. People have talked a lot about how the third person view is used for sexualisation and the straight male gaze. For me, being so clearly separate from her made us enemies instead. Lara herself became as much a barrier to overcome as any spike pit or rampaging bear. Inside my head challenges became a battle to get her to follow my intended instructions. If she missed a jump, or hit up against a wall with an "oof" it was all her fault.
(Tangent: Is it possible for a game to include female groans or grunts without someone describing them as orgasmic? Women in action roles are going to make sounds of exertion or pain sometimes, deal with it.)