our adventure games, almost always, are about spatial navigation and item manipulation. go to the tall hill, use the magic incantation to summon a stormcloud to strike the barren tree, setting it on fire, then take the branch and use it as a torch to light up the darkened cave. rarely, but not never, does this type of game explore the richest labyrinth in human experience: the conversation.
gamer mom, by mordechai buckman and kyler kelly, explores the twisty passages of a single dinner conversation, mapping out the protagonist’s mental space, and the ideas that compete there, with a potent and expressive visual vocabulary. possible avenues of conversation line up in neat, ordered lists or fight for space; some ideas hover on the periphery while others cling to position, slowly withering, stalling for time. the visual organization of gamer mom’s options, as well as kelly’s subtly-changing illustrations, deftly characterize the internal and external nuances of a tiny, futile battle to reclaim a sense of connection within a family.
no kidding: this might be the most important game you play in a while.