Grim Games: Papers, Please

Papers, Please
Grim Games is a new series, in which I recommend titles that are fun and a little darker than your average video game. These somewhat twisted games add another dimension to playing, exposing you to morally interesting questions, even straight up evil. Let’s kick off the series with…

Papers, Please is one of my favorite games, even though I suck at it. You take on the role of a poor sap, working the newly opened Grestin border crossing in the dystopian, cold-war era, totalitarian regime that is Arstotzka. Your job is to check that everyone’s papers are in order, before either letting them in, sending them away, or detaining them for questioning. It’s an ungrateful job, and you will be exposed to everything from murderers on the run and terrorists to prostitution rings and families torn apart.

As you progress, the paperwork gets more and more complicated, and you will likely be able to process fewer people per day. This means less pay, which in turn makes you short on the bills. Soon enough, your family will get sick from having no heat and not enough food, but if you’re lucky, you will scrape in cash enough to at least avoid eviction.

Papers, Please

In some ways, Papers, Please is quite depressing, and this feeling is amplified by the gritty, desaturated graphics and a soundtrack that would make any Soviet General stand at attention. And I am completely in love with this gem of a game! Whenever I have had a really good day, I like to fire it up and get a dose of humiliation. Glory to Arstotzka!

2013 was Year of the Game

This was the invitation to the Xbox One launch party...
No year is complete without a year-in-review post. Here is mine for 2013…

Things happened very fast this year, it seems. I changed career path, and went back to my first passion – games. I ran a Kickstarter, I formed a company, I got a full time job and a promotion, working with AAA titles for the new Xbox One – the green wristband shown above was the invite to the launch party at Microsoft (and no, I don’t own one, myself). Tons of work, tons of fun! Considering that only a year has passed since I set out on this path, everything that has happened sort of blows my mind.

I played a lot of games in 2013. Great games, from major releases I had missed, to small indie games made by people like myself. Steam became one of my favorite things. It made me want to talk about games more, not just design them. I hope to do more of that in the year to come.

Photography, my primary business for the last decade, was largely ignored this year. My expensive gear is collecting dust, and all I ever use these days, is Instagram. At the end of 2013, I am retiring the thing that’s been the biggest draw on my site for years, the Microstock Photographer’s Guide. However, I’m still interested in producing videos, and even more so when combined with games. Thus, I’ve become more and more interested in things like YouTube and streaming live from Twitch. Highlight: getting together with a few friends from my Minecraft server, streaming live for 24 hours, while collecting money for charity.

There has been a lot of reading after I started commuting several hours a week. The last few months, it’s been the Malazan Book of the Fallen series (I just finished book 4, leaving 6 more to go). If you’re into epic fantasy, you will want to read it. Reading is one of the few activities I do on a regular basis, not tied to a screen – which is also the reason I haven’t jumped on the ebook wagon (yet).

I’ve been missing the old, regular game night with friends, and social activity definitely took an overall blow in 2013. I need to work on that in 2014. Don’t get me wrong though, overall it was a year of huge improvement. The last few years have been rough on our household, and 2013 came with some real progress in nearly every area. I am very thankful for that.

Happy 2014 to all my friends, known associates and internet lurkers. Thanks for being a part of this interesting ride called Life, and for all your support and awesomeness.