A few days ago we got a new installment of Errant Signal where Campster talked about Getting Over It, which seems to be the game everyone was watching and nobody was talking about last month. (I mean nobody in the gaming press. Maybe you talked about it with your friends, but I wasn’t there for that. It’s getting less coverage than PUBG, is what I’m saying.)
If you missed it:
Getting Over It is a game seemingly made from random crap from the typical asset store. That’s the equivalent of making a movie using only stock footage. The game embraces this hodgepodge approach to design and makes it central to the game’s visual aesthetic. You play as a nameless naked man in a black cooking pot who uses a sledgehammer to pull and shove his way up a gargantuan mountain of trash. That’s no story, no characters, no context, no score, no unlocks, no save points, no enemies to fight, and no achievements to earn along the way. There’s just you, your hammer, some really fiddly climbing controls, and Bennett Foddy’s calm narration ruminating on difficulty and punishment in games as you ascend to new heights and tumble back down in bitter defeat.
I haven’t played it. I’m pretty sensitive to frustrating challenges with big setbacks as punishment. I’d get too angry to have fun. But like a lot of people, I enjoy watching the game. It’s a cruel task with a lot of pitfalls, where the environment is engineered to make falling down a deeply costly mistake. In fact, let’s look at the map of the whole game:
You’ll never see the game like this when you’re playing it, of course. In-game, your view is focused directly on your character, who would be just a few pixels tall in the image above. I imagine someone had to dig around the datafiles inside the game to make this.
That long thread-like line running down the left side is called “The Snake”. If you’re foolish enough to grab onto it (there’s a sign warning you not to) or if you accidentally fall into it (it’s a bit like the gutter of a pinball machine where’s it’s easier than it looks to get things to go into it) then you will ride it all the way down. It deposits you at the exact start of the game, thus erasing the hours you spent climbing up to that point. This setback is so catastrophically upsetting that there are compilations of streamers doing it.
People spend hours trying to climb this stupid mountain of random garbage. And yet, if you take the time to master the controls you can breeze up to the top in less than two minutes. Or at least, some people can. Okay, one guy did.
I feel like we need a name of this genre. “Games that are designed to make the player miserable as a way of entertaining a passive audience”. It’s a videogame that generates television as a byproduct of being played. The jump-scare craze from a few years ago (Five Nights At Freddy’s et al.) was probably the first example of this phenomena, but now it’s branching out into new ways of harnessing negative emotions to create tension and strong emotional reactions on the part of the streamer.
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