161/365 – Meditation Games #161 – Material Frenzy

Developer: tuckie

Launcher Quote: “you literally just got all these toys yesterday and you’re already plowing through your gift cards – isn’t that a little excessive?”

Some people out there aren’t too keen on games trying to teach them lessons about living life, or in some cases taking a look at life and perhaps having a bit of stark or harsh outlook on its trials and tribulations. They want games to be light-hearted, fun escapism, never really taking a chance at reflecting what might be waiting out there in the jungle of IRL. But I can’t really agree with this outlook – in part because I feel that robbing games of being able to send real messages about life is limiting the medium to what kind of power and influence it can have for good, and also in part because we need games to express those kinds of observations as a means to have games be taken seriously as  medium generally.

That’s why looking at tuckie’s entry today, as well as the launcher quote, you’d think that this was just a game where you go around a room tripping over empty boxes and eventually hitting up a gift card to order even more stuff that falls on your head, crashing the game in a kind of “haha funny” manner. And in some respects, it is, as the developer intended it to be about the carnage the day after your birthday, when your special day is over and you have lots of things to go through and potentially use. But if I’ve learned anything in these Meditation Games entries, it’s the drawing of other conclusions that makes playing these 5-minute snippets so cool and interesting. The serious part of me interpreted some of this as a message or a thought about materialism in general, how even on days like your birthday where you’re supposed to get something, that it isn’t enough, that you need to have and get more, that you need to have more material to feel like you’ve got a sense of worth.

In this sense, the interpretation becomes a little darker – the gift card item use results in something that eventually crashes you out, overloading you with material want and items that perhaps you don’t need. Empty boxes turn from innocent garbage after your birthday to the result of years of potentially facetious material gain. It probably doesn’t help that the protagonist’s face appears a bit forlorn as this is all happening, and even if it wasn’t the developer’s intention, this is the kind of serious message that makes you think beyond what was presented, beyond what was intended. It’s the kind of appeal of games in general to draw a deeper message from just playing a game, even if the game wasn’t meant to send it. Are materials the end-all be-all of life? Is life just the acqusition and discard of such material, and are we never satisfied with what we have? Those were the questions I came away from playing the game with, and if any of those questions make me think about what I’m doing, then the developer’s accomplished their mission, and then some.

 

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