Some new games

One thing I’d really like to do in 2021 is get back into writing just for fun. Although I have written a lot academically in the last few years, my space and time to just write my thoughts had become really squeezed. I hope to use some spare time on Friday mornings to quickly put a few words together about what’s on my mind at the time and re-engage with the craft. These are my own personal views and opinions.

Some new games

Anyone who knows me, or has come across me on Twitter, will have picked up that I am strongly associated with games. I have used games as part of, and to communicate, my research for several years, having founded SeriousGeoGames, then the Earth Arcade, and still supporting those projects now as a visiting researcher to the Energy and Environment Institute. It makes me really happy that I left the EEI with games firmly established within its research culture, whether it’s Steven Forrest’s work on seriousgames for governance, Christina Roggatz’s Crabby’s Reef, or Simon Waldman and Aura students supporting the IndieCade Climate Game Jam*. I like to think I contributed to this in at least some small way.

However, rarely do I talk about the games I play for fun, in my own time. Mainly, I play a few in-depth games ALOT. Football Manager is my biggest time sink and I love to take a team from the very lowest leagues to the very top (something that would be impossible with a European Super League). I also love Cities: Skylines and constructing large cities with sustainable, multi-model transport systems. And obviously, I’m a Pokemon fanatic.

With Covid restrictions saving me money on my bus commute (>£25 a week), I was finally able to get a Nintendo Switch, and promptly played only Pokemon on it. Having finished the Pokemon storyline yonks ago, I was feeling guilty that the Switch was sitting in the cupboard, unplayed. It was a waste of such a brilliant device, so for my birthday last week I bought myself a couple of new games.

First was Scott Pilgrim Versus the World. I wanted this game so bad. I adore everything about Scott Pilgrim, the aesthetics, the style, the humour, the soundtrack that Edgar Wright put together, I love it all. The game, a re-release of an older game that was pulled for licensing reasons, is a side scrolling brawler that reminded me of playing Streets of Rage on my mate’s Mega Drive many years ago. On top of that is the retro 8-bit style graphics and soundtrack. I should love this game to bits.

But, it is so hard! I’m awful at any game that requires hand-to-eye co-ordination, so I’d knew I’d struggle, but this game is really hard and I gave up frustrated that I couldn’t make it past the first boss before Game Over and having to start all over again. I’m left looking for cheat codes just so I can experience the game at all…

The other game I bought was one I have wanted for a long time and it is honking brilliant – Untitled Goose Game. This game is so much fun. It is a gentle puzzler game set in a quaint English village where you play a naughty goose causing havoc. The cartoon graphics are lovely and the soundtrack is as gentle as the game play, as you set about tasks like spraying a gardener with his own hose or tricking him into hammering his own thumb using your honk superpower.

What I really love about it is the two player mode. This is a non-violent, fun game that my wife Amy enjoys playing alongside me. Two geese on the loose is more fun than one. The only downside is that it is quite a small game with very limited replay value and I know I’m going to be sad when I’ve finish it.

I’d happily recommend both games but caveat that by saying only go for Scott Pilgrim if you’re up to the challenge. Sadly, I’m not. If there are any games you would recommend, please comment below.


*Add to this list Kelly Stanford’s Resilience card game and Josh Wolstenholme’s 360 Lab, and I’ve still probably missed loads!

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