Games have a long history of nonsensical things, ranging from the abstract to the downright bizarre. A lot of this is due to their early infancy having extreme limitations on what could be visually and aurally represented, leading many budding young developers to reason that if they couldn’t accurately represent reality, why even try?
These days, absurdity in games is more like its own niche. There are abstract games like Every Extend or Rez, of course, but those aren’t the kind of absurd I’m talking about.
I’m talking about Space Giraffe.
A game which replaced most nouns in the game with utterly random things (kind of like the art movement Dada did). The visuals made little to no sense either, and bombarded you with colours and sound effects that simply didn’t match up. It was a downloadable Xbox game. I remember in the spirit of the game, the Australian Official Xbox Magazine giving it Teapot/100 in their review. A highly desirable score, probably.
Mobile gaming is right at home with absurd games as well, there being little rhyme or reason to some of the biggest hits. Tiny Wings, The Impossible Game, these sorts of things care not for reality, but gleefully revel in their trademark otherworldliness.
Enter Flappy Bird.
A game by one dude from Vietnam who released a simple, buggy, repetitive and highly unoriginal game for 99c on iOS and Android and is now making millions of sales EVERY DAY.
If there’s a hint of jealousy in my voice (being a fellow indie dev myself), it’s because the game could be made in a week by anyone, and has little merit. It’s kind of like winning the lottery to take it to the top.
There’s no way of knowing if a small game like this will be successful, but games with decent production values are generally guaranteed to have some kind of market waiting for them – piddly little titles like Flappy Bird, however, do not. They could sell 2 copies or 20 million and no one can really figure out why.
It’s distressing on the one hand, but on the other delightful bouts of madness can be a thing to be relished.
Enter Goat Simulator: yes, you read that correctly.
A silly game jam project, Goat Simulator has you running around a fairly generic 3D world in third person bleating and kicking things. There’s no real gameplay to speak of, it’s just hilarious to watch the goat run around, get hit by cars, fall over, climb up a ladder (using an adorable glitch where someone has clearly ported the model from a human character as you see the goat mistakenly use its neck to climb) and knock objects at things.
The video of the inane stupidity of the all-goat-all-the-time action of the game went viral. It’s easy to see why: it’s hilarious.
But the developers, upon seeing the childlike delight their project brought them, has recently suggested they might make it into an actual game.
They said might, but it’s still a strange gaming world we live in where a viral video can greenlight a game which makes no sense from conception to release.
Those who try for utterly absurd often fail. The truly sublimely out there games seem to come out of a moment’s mad inspiration. Then there are games like Flappy Bird which come out of a moment’s simple ‘I wonder if I can make a game on my own’ pondering.
It’s a gold rush scenario. You can be an expert prospector and ensure you take as much gold as you can from each claim, making sure to keep your head above water, or you can accidentally swing an axe your first time and find a seam big enough to dwarf Kanye West’s ego.
Whatever the case, it’s 2014 and I’m genuinely looking forward to a game called Goat Simulator. Now there’s a sentence you couldn’t come up with as fiction.