I am so glad stuff like this exists; it's really spectacular, in a quiet, off guard way that I never would have imagined. Jason Rohrer created Gravitation, his latest autobiographical video game [?!] out of the sudden, overwhelming response to his first game, Passage, and the frustrations at how this work-related activity was soaking up his time and energy, often at the expense of his family and his other projects:
I was also observing how my moods and creative endeavors affected my family, which was knee-deep in big changes at the time. Mez, my first child, was almost 5 (my baby was growing up), and we were on the verge of having our second child. I knew that our relationship with Mez would never be quite the same---the end of "just the three of us," which had been incredibly sweet. As it turns out, our new baby, Ayza, was born just three days after I started working on Gravitation.I downloaded the game this morning and have played it a few times, and Jason's right, it's a remarkably nuanced experience.
The mechanics themselves are relatively simple, but the emergent behavior harbors a lot of texture. Know that there are no "accidents" in this game design. Everything you notice about the game, and every subtle interaction that you experience, is intentionally packed with meaning. Gravitation explores how a particular corner of my life feels, as only a game can.
Though noob that I am, I started playing without reading the instructions, so I didn't know you could jump, and I ended up playing catch with the kid the entire time, even when my head caught on fire. Which meant I missed the entire work-related aspect to the game. It was like playing with the at-home dad setting on.