Finite Fantasy – Games that ‘END’

I recently came across an indie game (oh great, a post about indie games!) that actually ended. Not that you completed it but it ‘ended’.

It died.

Click on.

Glitch Hiker is was a game created by a group of six people. How I came to learn of it was through the pretty great web show known as ‘Sup Holmes?’. During one episode the guest, Rami Ismail, mentioned the game and how it had only a set number of lives before it ‘died’.

The idea was that anyone could go onto the website and download the game, but there were, collectively, only 200 lives. If you scored well enough, you’d earn extra lives. In theory, the game could still be with us, yet it proved too difficult for most people as lives were lost over the game’s 487 days of existence.

I’m not going to pretend that games haven’t died in the past. MMO’s ‘die’ all the time. The thing is that it’s very rarely planned for. It’s more like the end of a night in a club, but instead of the lights going up and people telling you to drink up, the servers are switched off and the client boots you out of the game.

GlitchHiker was born to die. It was made to be a finite experience. It was something that people had to play NOW, before it was gone forever.

It’s this design that made people really care about each and every go they had. Each life lost was one step closer to doom. Each time they failed they were edging ever closer to never being able to play the game again. Every round where 2 lives were won bought some kind of hope. A hope that the people playing the game could keep it alive by being good at it.

You see, by making an experience finite, you’re making it more valuable. An experience that ends and can’t be captured again can soon become lore. Everyone will have their own stories to tell of their time with the game and those that played it will have a ‘were you there when’ connection.

At the moment, with so many games being released it’s easy to create a ‘pile-of-shame’. But perhaps, by forcing people to play a game before it’s no longer available, developers could create something that forces people to pay attention. Couldn’t they?

I’m a realist, however. There’s money to be made in games and, at the moment, convenience is king. People demand instant and o-demand access to their entertainment. If a game were to set a deadline, if it were to be only playable for a short period of time, would this create excitement and a rush to finish it, to be a part of a moment? Would people feel offended at being set dead-lines and being told ‘no’?

I’d like to see this idea explored a little more. However, the customer’s always right and the customer wants everything, everywhere and all the time.

In a world where we’re increasingly getting to have it all our own way in terms of entertainment, wouldn’t it be refreshing to have deadlines and finality within our games?

I wonder.

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