For most gamers, their gaming life revolves around the flashy titles of your EAs, THQs and Blizzards. AAA titles that you can find on the shelves at your local EB or read about in magazines. But hidden away in the shadows lies the obscure, sometimes frightening and often darker society of gaming. An underworld of gaming, if you will. This indie games underworld creates and revels in games that main stream society will not, CANNOT accept.
Whether they be gruesomely violent, excessively difficult or frustratingly pointless, these under ground games have developed a culture of their own, inhabited by a society of maniacs, crazies and people who just generally like wearing black. This article is the first of hopefully many (unless I too disappear into the gaming darkness) adventures into this dangerous gaming underworld. I risk my life so that I can report to you what THEY don’t want you to know…. I’ve really got to start asking for a pay cheque…
For months now I have been attempting to beak in to the underworld gaming scene which so far I have only read about through the disturbing scrawling on a cubicle wall, or heard about through hurried whispers, my sources too scared to speak aloud or put word to email. I was getting desperate, searching the dumpsters outside of indie games developers offices, trawling through online blogs, their endlessness matched only by the pointlessness. Hell. I was even contemplating installing Linux. Anything that would lead me closer to my elusive subject.
Yet in the end I didn’t find my way into the underworld. It found me. My first chance appeared six days ago when I came home to find a note nailed against my door, reading only ‘Y’, written in what was either blood or tomato sauce. I raced to my computer, note stuffed into my pocket so the cats couldn’t guess what nefarious activities I was up to. I Googled ‘Y’. Three hours later I realised I’d have to try a different tact, though I had found out that the letter ‘Y’ was first introduced into the Latin alphabet by the Roman Emperor Claudius…
Not that useful.
I went to bed that night, restless, obsessed with this tiny morsel I had been given from the world I so coveted. I eventually slipped into blackness to awaken somewhere near 2am staring myself in the mirror, the letter “Y” covering my naked body in bold blank ink. My heart pounding, my mind swimming, I ran out the front door onto the lawn.
“Claudius!!!” I bellowed, to the delight of 20 local neighbourhood dogs, barking their encouragement. “Claudius!!!” Lights were turning on around me, the night was coming to life, spurred by my insanity.
A blue Hyundai Getz came screaming down my street, stopping in front of my house. I stared at them, staring at me, staring at them… Staring at me. “Are you getting in or not?” I grabbed some junk mail to hide my shame and squished into the not so spacious car. “Sorry for the ride, my big black van is getting a wheel alignment.” This seemed important so I kept my mouth shut. “We’ve been trying to contact you for a while now, we have something to show you.”
“You didn’t think an email would do it?” I asked, wondering exactly when and how all this writing got onto my body and wondering worryingly where my pyjamas were, and even alarmingly, who took them off. They’re just staring at me again. “Do you have my pants?” Were these the inhabitants of the underground Indie scene I was chasing? Had I bit off a tad more than I could chew, or even fit in my mouth?
“I’m sorry, you can’t be trusted with pants, not where we’re going. Ishmael! Put the blindfold on!” the next hour was spent in nude blackness, Coles’ $1 specials standing in between my vulnerable parts and a car full of strangers I could only assume broke into my house to strip me and write the letter ‘Y’ 100 times. What gentle touch they must have. Program coders for sure. “We’re here, let’s go.”
“This… is Day Y.” A raspy voice says from the blackness, full of pride. The blindfold is ripped from my head. I sit in a cold metal chair, in a stark white room, a computer terminal in front of me and what looks like a car battery to my left. More concerning is the number of electrodes coming from this battery, attached to my still naked body with sticky tape.
“I’m sorry,” I manage remarkably calmly, “there must be some confusion, I’m a games reviewer.” I look away from the screen to see ten men standing behind me. They’re at least all fully dressed. I’m not sure if I find this more or less comforting. With no response from them I turn back to the computer. I am looking at a modern game, a character dressed in regular clothes sleeping on a bed.
“We are what you’ve been searching for Mr. Anderson”
“Ok, that’s not my na…”
“Silence Human! This is Day Y. An ultra-realistic horror survival MMO. You are the first outsider to try it Mr. Anderson, you should feel blessed.”
“The only thing I feel is that I’m about to get raped.”
“Hardly Mr. Anderson, the game is only in Alpha, you’re here to review our game. It’s features include real time sleep requirements, food preparation time, fatigue management, limited inventory, real time interactive damage, zombies of course, limitless PvP…”
“Woah… Can we revisit that bit about the damage? Is that why you have me hooked up here?”
“Correct Mr. Anderson, very astute, when your avatar takes damage you are given a proportional shock. We feel it adds a level of tenseness to the game that other titles are sorely lacking.”
“You know, I think what you’re trying here is great guys. I really do. But I think we’ll just call it a night and you can drive me home. I’m not really an electrode kind of guy.”
“Nonsense. You’ll love it.” The gun pointed at my eyes seemed to support his statement. The training that Non Fiction Gaming (NFG) had provided me with for such situations started running through my head. All i could remember was something about urinating yourself and utilising nearby rabid creatures to throw at an adversaries face. In hindsight the training came up woefully short. So I got playing.
After 4 more hours of real time interactive sleep I awoke to an admittedly stunning in game sunset. I spent the next 12 hours eating, searching my house for supplies and boarding the place up. I ate some in game dinner and went back to bed, exhausted but gratefully free from electrocution. What a game!? I was hooked.
Three weeks later my new friends from Day Y dropped me back at my house, covered in burn marks but having had the gaming experience of my life. And i knew it. I was in. The dark Indie scene I had searched for was out there and it was more than I had ever dreamt of. I could not wait for my next adventure, though I decided to get some health insurance in the meantime.
While I may not be the game reviewer NFG wants. In the dark world of Indie gaming, I am the game reviewer NFG needs…