#iplayed Good Luck Gardener by farfin (itch.io – browser/download)
Good Luck Gardener is a quick, unassuming game where you are a dead person ghost who gardens around a family of not-yet-dead humans.
this was a lovely game that represents many things i like to see in games. it is very pretty with clear consideration behind each of its visual elements. this approach seems reflected in the rest of the game as well, leaving behind ludic device formalities and getting straight to it. this style of design reminds me of atari 2600 games or poetry’s relationship to the whole of writing; assumptions of how form must be used are cast aside to let (in a social sense) the author impart whatever they wish with whatever devices they wish. at its best, poetry is a label evoked to kindly signal people to open their minds.
the game isn’t subversive in the sensational way, nor is it polemic or wholly unique in anything it does. it is completely charming in its minimal, pretenseless spirit. its lack of extrinsic rewards or a ‘voice of god’ telling you how to feel and what to do at any given moment let you engage what the game is presenting on your own terms. watching my actions affect the family and reflecting on those implications was an enriching, honest experience. i wouldn’t have had it if the equivalent of an authority figure was constantly policing my relationship to the game, and that entices me especially with the particular ways this game turns a common gameplay loop morose and sobering.
by rejecting the often-paternalistic relationships game creators take with those who would play their games we may instead earnestly engage with all the things which exist in that game world. there was a space, and things existed within it. i defined my own relationships to those things as a result of my own judgement. while implicitly asked to embody a role, i was able to interpret the role how i wished. the consequences of my actions became my own to reckon with rather than feelings of betrayal by an authority figure. i stress this only because i find this lesson so valuable and rare to creating games, and the way this game represents that (on top of all its own merit) sets my heart aflutter.