Developer: Zephyr Raine
Launcher Quote: “Meditate for me
Open up your heart
Six hours for free
Worth it for my art”
One thing that I hear every so often as someone who has a number of years under the belt as far as work in the games industry is concerned is that this isn’t an easy profession to get into. It takes a lot of pain, suffering, blood/sweat/tears, and endurance to be able to try to do good work or sustain oneself in games. There’s also the darker side of the industry in which people often talk about working conditions, studio environment, and work/life balance, all of which contribute to an environment that’s continuously threatening to unravel you. At times, it’s difficult to try to depict what this feels like, but this Meditation Games entry does it with such a simple portrayal that it’s almost painful in its truth.
The game is simple – a meditating person is constantly whipped as you click the whip over and over again. The process repeats itself ad nauseum, and the meditating person never seems to break under the pressure. Certainly a more uncommon occurrence as far as the serenity and mental stability of the player character is concerned, but the repeated flagellation gets its message across in conjunction with the launcher quote. It’s an encapsulation about how sometimes games workers, for their art and for their job, tend to suffer through a constant stream of pain and the need to keep oneself on a proper mental level to keep going. And while it’s just one simple action of whipping, over and over again, the message is no less stark as far as what it’s like to be subjected to it.
My hope is that for the future, that these stories of overworked, overstressed, and hurting game industry employees get to be more than just occasional stories which we forget after a while – that at some point action is taken in order to relieve the kind of soul-crunching work and effort it takes to work in games. We see some of that effort in the unionization that is in its burgeoning stages, the occasional walkouts, the writeups and the articles from allies in the media, and from those gamers who see this behavior and have shifted mentalities to genuinely try to hold development studios responsible for the well-being of their workers. One hopes that awareness grows into actual change, and prevents the need to endure the pain depicted in this game.