laagd2.pngBlake Fix, designer of the excellent Walker and the upcoming Omulus, announced the release of his latest project, (my) Life as a Game (designer). He describes it as "a minigame that is supposed to convey the frustration of life's distractions while trying to complete a project", but it is so much more. While it does convey tedium and frustration, it does so with wit and style, while employing a surprisingly intricate game system.

Controlling your onscreen avatar is simple: Just use the arrow keys to move and X to interact with things and people. A note at the top of the screen will tell you what X will do in any given situation. The basic goal is to try to make a game while attending to your other needs, using Sims-style management of time and resources. Each of your needs is represented by a bar at the top left of the screen, most of which diminish at various speeds and can be replenished in different ways. The interplay between each of these factors forms the heart of the game.

Your "game" bar starts empty and you can only fill it by working at your computer and effectively neglecting each of your other needs. Your "heart" bar indicates your mental and physical health. It can be replenished by showering, and it will deplete faster if you have a broken heart. Your "sleep" bar can be replenished by, of course, sleeping. Your "stomach" bar can be filled by grabbing some food from your fridge. If you get too full, your stomach can be emptied by using the bathroom. If your heart, sleep, or stomach bars remain empty, you will die. Your refrigerator will supply you with food as long as you have money, which must be earned by showing up and wasting a day at work. You can take your car there to save time or feel cool, but gas costs money, too. The final bar is your "romance" meter. Some playthroughs I wondered if it's even worth it to pursue romance. It takes a lot of time to maintain a relationship, which gets in the way of your game development, but it really keeps you happy.

This game is most likely at least partially informed by the author's own experiences, and there is a real sense of truth conveyed by the simple pixels, and by the abstraction of human desires and emotions into simulation-style game mechanics. It can be approached as an amusing diversion, a serious challenge, or an insightful meta-commentary--or as all three. You can play (my) Life as a Game (designer) in your browser or download a build for Windows (which can be played in full screen).