I really liked Jamestown.
Kill Screen reviewed it a while back.
Let me give you a little background on the game. It is a top-down, “bullethell” game. What that means is that the screen often fills with enemies. They are pixels wide, and your space shit is even smaller. You play the game by dodging the enemy’s bullets.
Those bullets literally fill the screen. They cover every pixel inch, and you have to squeeze in between them. It is a harrowing experience. There is a kind of stress that comes with that gameplay that I can’t really explain. Squeezing a tiny spaceship through the smallest gap makes me lick my lips, suck them into my mouth, concentrate incredibly hard on what I am doing.
I don’t have a larger point to make about this. The game makes me stress the hell out. It makes me crave the moment that I can succeed by destroying all of the enemies on screen. There is elation there, what Jane McGonigal calls fiero, and I love it. I crave it. I play the hell out of the game just for that feeling.
In fact, I have no idea what the story is actually about. From what I understand, it is about the colonization of Mars and aliens and fighting the Spanish. I don’t really know.
In any case, the game makes me feel something that I have never felt before. I have had frustration in playing games before. I have cursed under my breath about balance in Call of Duty games. I have heard myself get murdered over and over again by 12 year olds on Live.
But Jamestown just makes me buckle down. It makes me play it over and over again. It make me feel good while destroying me.
That’s how powerful video games can be.