Kentucky Route Zero might be my favorite game. I’ve been alive kind of a long time, and played a lot of games, so I am allowing myself a little room to maneuver rhetorically. Not to be tricksy, but to allow for the reality of myself as a finite being. I’m not worried about being wrong - let’s say it wasn’t actually my favorite game, and it was another game instead. Then I would have two games I loved so much that ranking them was genuinely challenging, which sounds like a win condition to me. No, I want the rhetorical space so that I don’t lie to you inadvertently. In any event: when I think about games that are important to me, it would be very near the top of any list worth making.
The thing is, I’m not even sure it’s a game. One way people describe games is with the Sid Meier suggestion that a game is “A Series Of Interesting Choices.” Although, if you continue to listen beyond the fringe of the adage, it’s a bit more sophisticated than that. I also know a lot of designers who don’t like this phrase even as a starting point, so they aren’t gonna be in the market for corollaries.
You “Play” Kentucky Route Zero by observing things, choosing dialogue, and having feelings. Is that a game? I don’t know. Games often mimic movies or television, where KR0 is derived from and actively believes itself to be theatre, a play that you write as you go. It’s a play that takes place on an infinite stage, where you are a cast of characters over the course of the game. You’ll choose one scene over another. I’ve had a sense that I was being seen while I played it, often - actively observed in a way that generated a skin response. Is that a game? Being manipulated by an elaborate, polymorphic digital sculpture? I felt like I was being played. I don’t pretend to understand it. It’s not for everybody. You could play it, and not even see what I saw. I feel like it’s still running when I close it, it’s just that now it’s running in my skull somewhere.
I’ll be “California Streamin’” today at 2pm, as per usual, joined by Ryan Hartman who is great and cool; just ask him. But! Did you know that we have Morgan Webb? Of Bonfire Studios, but also Acquisitions Incorporated? We’ll have her on for the brewing show at Noon, come up with a beer for Morgaen, and I also have it on good authority that she’s bringing up her Xenos filth for an afternoon round of Kill Team. I’ve been looking forward to it since we hatched it at PAX South, and I’m so glad we were to make all the realspace drudgery associated with hanging out IRL work out.