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Month: March 2016


Convenience is something that sounds exclusively positive, but I was reminded yesterday that it can have rather harsh consequences.

During my irregular call-in show Call Me Ismail yesterday, Palestinian developer Rasheed Abueideh reached out to talk about his upcoming game Liyla. It’s an Android game based on the events of the Israeli attack on Gaza of 2014, from the perspective of a girl who lived through the war.

Rasheed called to talk about general advice, and one of the advices I gave him was to submit a game with such personal meaning to an event like IndieCade. The conversation that followed is included below.

IndieCade uses the convenience of a payment processor for the submission fee, which is $80. Payment processors are extremely convenient, in that dealing with payments in 2016 is still far more complicated than it should be – they take care of pretty much everything for you. Usually, processors allow multiple methods of payment – PayPal, creditcard and Amazon are popular offerings.

The problem is that convenience is often aimed at those already convenienced – and it’s difficult to consider beyond those boundaries. IndieCade’s payment processor accepted PayPal and Amazon, both of which are US regulated and both of which do not accept Palestine as a sovereign state, leaving Rasheed with a completely filled out submission form and no way to pay $80.

Whenever something others interact with is convenient for you, try and think how it might affect others. If you’re dealing with international issues, there’s too much to know – but there’s definitely steps you can take to consider geographical & cultural diversity. One of them is to put a message on your payment page allowing alternative payment requests to be made via e-mail, and having a clear user flow available upon request.

I’ve reached out to IndieCade organizers, and they have since started working on making clear there are alternative ways to pay.

Lightbars in Her Story

One part that’s interesting to analyze in a game is what the player’s presence is. In most modern games, players assume the role of a character, while in games like Candy Crush or Tetris, the player is simply that – the player. In some games, as Brendan Keogh pointed out in his analysis of SUPERHOT and Cibele, the player is intentionally kept out of the game world entirely or forcefully. One of my favorite recent games in terms of presence is Her Story, which has you assume the character of a detective (not very original) sitting behind a computer sifting through files (the player character does the same as the player, also not super original). But the light bars that reflect in the virtual screen of Her Story, those are something I hadn’t seen used like that.

The light bars, in the screens’ reflection, are inferred to be behind you in the physical world, your real-life reflection mixing with the reflection the game projects into our the real world. In a way, Her Story reaches into the real world and puts something there that isn’t real behind the player. It creates a weird sence of being enveloped by the game world, as your reflection and the game’s reflection meld together into what you see on your screen. It’s an extremely simple and subtle effect, but it created a sense of presence I’d expect of VR or AR, just like that.