Video games allow us to open doors to fantasy adventures that the gates of real life cruelly slam in our face. This is their great gift to humanity.
For example ... until this week, I thought I might never get the chance to take a shower with a famous 25-year-old man from Sweden, to soap the grime from his torso and to towel him dry. It had never occurred to me that one day I might enjoy the thrill of dressing that same man, none other than YouTuber PewDiePie, in a rah-rah skirt and bunny ears.
This is the basic premise of GOTY IDST (Game of the Year If Deleted Still True) in which players can take a shower with various social media and YouTube personalities, including PewDiePie, Nerdcubed, Emma Blackery and Ashens.
Created by London-based Bossa Studios, the developer of Surgeon Simulator and I am Bread, it's an eccentric and smart piece of silliness. Headed up by team-member Oliver Hindle (aka Oliver Age 24), it was made in 48 hours, during a game jam organized by the company along with British comedian and YouTube personality Ashens.
Players choose their favorite YouTube person, turn on the shower, rub them down with soap, dry them with a towel. Hair dryer action is optional. There's also a wardrobe filled with goofy garments that players can drag and place on their character of choice. All the featured personalities gave their permission to appear in the game.
Games aren't known for doing comedy, but funny little productions like GOTY are a great example of off-the-cuff nonsense that engage for a few moments. The game is free.
More seriously, it shows that smart outfits like Bossa understand how to make things that feel unique, quirky and fresh. Bossa's games have found widespread praise for their sense of humor and their departure from gaming norms. They are often boosted by YouTubers and media keen to talk about anything that seems new and different.
Bossa's game jams have yielded games like I am Bread and are designed to encourage originality and creativity. I am Bread features a slice of bread which the player maneuvers through a world of trouble. like falling on the ground and getting dirty, as well as opportunities, like finding a slab of butter to smear all over itself.
"For us, game jams are the best way to get the team to work on new ideas," said Bossa CEO Henrique Olifiers in an interview with Polygon. "[Team members] can flex their skills on novel approaches, and experiment a lot very fast.
" game jams are our way of finding good ideas worth taking forward.
"Most our game jam results are forgotten. Normally, one in every 20 or so prototypes would become a real project; the others are left alone after we playtest them," he added.
"It's very common for a good idea on paper to not transpire as well into playable form, and we've been very diligent to let go of games that don't blow our minds right away, like Surgeon Simulator or I Am Bread did in the past during their respective jams. In other words, it's a very efficient way of failing fast, often."
The game jams, and releases like GOTY, are also marketing exercises, serving to connect fans and consumers to Bossa as a brand that stands apart from the crowd. Bossa's senior marketing manager Richard Earl recently gave a talk at the F2P Summit in London on the dos and don'ts of social media. One of his key points was to do things that are fun and silly. "You will be surprised by the reach," he said (as reported by Develop).
Bossa is forever having fun with fans via social media, in ways that make more organized efforts by big company corporate teams look stilted and inauthentic. Work like GOTY shows that Bossa doesn't take itself too seriously, but is wise to the needs of the always-on social media content grind.
Meanwhile, the company is working on Worlds Adrift, also born from a game jam and also the subject of constant social media updates and fan engagement.
It's a 3D skyborne open-world multiplayer adventure of airships and swinging characters. Worlds Adrift's development appears to rely on a genuine appreciation of fan input.
"We've been documenting the development on a weekly basis, helped by the players on how to design it," said Olifiers. "It's a very exciting game to make thanks to the input of the people following the project." Stuff like GOTY helps to connect more people to serious projects like World Adrift, he added.