The Black Lives Matter protests in the United States of America have resonated around the world, prompting many of us to take action and show our support. However, wanting to help and knowing how to help can be very different things. There is so much to process right now, flooded by the overwhelming sense of “WTH do I start?” My mantra this year has been, ‘start with what you know’. If computer games are your thing, then start there. Find developers who support change, fight injustice, and want to make it more accessible for others to do the same. And if you need a little help finding champions, then check out this bundle of games on itch.io – The Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality.
What is Itch.Io?
I love itch.io. It is this huge open marketplace for indy digital creators, with most of its focus on indy video games (my great weakness). Whenever I visit PAX Australia, I usually spend a whole day wandering through the PAX Indy section and checking out the fresh emerging talent. Sure, I love the big names like most gamers but indy games are perfect for pushing boundaries; testing out new styles and approaches to gaming. You always know indy games are willing to reset our expectations and ensure we don’t fall into a state of complacency with the status quo (for example, Some Distant Memory).
The Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality
It is no surprise itch.io takes a lead, offering a way to support the change we need in the world right now. Though we can’t physically be there to protest we can support those who are. There is more than one road to march and more than one way to show your support. Read. Speak. Donate.
The Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality helps in a few different ways. For you, it’s easy. There are over 740 projects in The Bundle as part of a ‘Pay What You Want’ offer. The minimum donation amount asked is $5 but before you run off to pay, I want you to stop and think about where the money is going.
All proceeds–Yes, ALL proceeds will be donated to NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and Community Bail Fund, split 50/50. Remember: Read. Speak. Donate. This is your opportunity to donate and support two organizations that are working directly with those affected.
What’s in The Bundle?
I made my donation on Monday and spent almost three hours working through the VERY long list of projects. There is an estimated $3400 worth of games and projects in this list! Full disclaimer: I have not played any of them as yet, however, I am familiar with a few through friends and conventions. In saying that, one of the best things about this long list of projects is the diversity and quality of the projects. Some games, like Tonight, We Riot are brand new (and VERY socially relevant); some games (such as A Mortician’s Tale) date back to 2017. Many of the games are recipients of various indy game developer awards over the years. There are games addressing racial discrimination, mental health, LGBTQI+, and political failures. The diversity across The Bundle is exactly the representation we are looking for in the world, it’s a shame we don’t always have the coverage to support it.
Here is a list of my faves so far and not all of them are recommended for kids. I strongly suggest you check out any game before unleashing your children on the computer.
Where I Plan to Start With The Bundle
Games to Empower Me Right Now
- Tonight, We Riot (Means Interactive) – 8Bit style game where you play as a group (not an individual) and riot against the broken social system
- Overland (Finji) – Post-apocalyptic journey across the US. Feels like preparation for 2020
- Beacon (monothetic) – S/F action rogue-lite. Strong Altered Carbon (Netflix) feel to it
Games for Absolute Escapism
- A Short Hike (adamgryu) – A sweet short game of exploration and light adventure. I love the soft palette of colors and soothing music.
- Catlateral Damage (manekoware) – The weirdest yet most cathartic game. You are a cat going around knocking as much stuff off every flat surface available.
- Wakamarina Valley, New Zealand (caves rd) – This is a visual ‘soft game’, filled with photographic experiences directly from Wakamarina Valley in NZ (northern region of South Island).
Games for Nostalgia
- Super Win The Game (J. Kyle Pittman) – A cute 8bit game, the sequel to a freeware game Win the Game from 2012
- Midboss (Eniko) – I love this rogue style game. Defeat enemies to collect their powers and work your way up the food chain to the role of End Boss in the dungeon.
Games for RPG/Storytelling
- Lancer Core-book (Massif Press) – D&D style RPG downloadable game
- Sleepaway (Jay Dragon & Co) – RPG storytelling. Summer Camp Counsellors have to protect the kids from whatever is out there.
Games for Education and Fun (yes, you can have both)
- Art sqool (Glanderco) – A game filled with art prompts. Work through art assessments set by the AI teacher to help prompt you to explore your own art skills.
- Lingotopia (Tristan Dahl) – A fun and educational linguistics game. You’re lost in a strange land and have to learn how to communicate with locals to survive.
Games for the Sake of Games
- Gladiabots (GFX47) – Robot Combat Strategy game. You know what I’m talking about.
- A Mortician’s Tale (Laundry Bear Games) – This is so simple in its beauty, sombre in its context. A macabre feel to the storyline but one that doesn’t shy away from the topic of death.
- Extreme Meatpunks Forever (Heather Flowers) – weird but mesmerising. NSFW or young kids. Most diverse characters in the most oddly bizarre and fascinating story-telling. Mech-style fighting but with biopunk and mental health topics all over the place.
- Fossil Hunters (Reptoid Games) – A family-friendly adventure and puzzle game.
There is no stopping the popularity of mainstream games like Animal Crossing and considering the health benefits gained by many colleagues, I wouldn’t deny you of that. However, if you are looking at the world right now and thinking, ‘okay–I need to do something to help’ then THIS is a starting point for you. Though the minimum donation amount is $5, there is definitely more than $5 worth of gaming here. Remember, all proceeds go to NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and Community Bail Fund. Plus, you are showing your support for Indy developers who are standing up for racial justice and equality. Give to those who are out there helping right now and make this another step in your journey to change this world for the better.
Once you’ve worked through these games, take the next step. GeekDad Jonathon shared some great ideas here.