IFComp 2012: Kicker

A sports game! Will my general ignorance of sport be my undoing again? Spoilers follow the break.

So, this game puts you in the role of a kicker, which is apparently a sort of specialist in American football who just does the kick-offs. There are a number of other specialists mentioned in the game, such as the “punter”, as well as numerous coaches and assistant coaches. It made me wonder if this was some kind of parody of the trend towards fragmentation of skills in modern sport, but no, it turns out everything is real. Maybe the current state of American football is already parody enough.

The whole game consists of one football match, which, due to your position, you basically have no way of affecting. After you do your kick in each half, you just sit on the sidelines and wait to see if you’re needed for a field goal kick or something. Apparently there’s some randomization involved that makes this happen sometimes, but it didn’t happen for me. So basically it’s a game about sitting around and waiting. It reminds me a lot of Zork: A Troll’s Eye View, although it provides more to do than that game: watch the jumbotron, attempt to make conversation with other sidelined players, etc. And there are some amusing responses — my favorite part was the Special Teams Coach, who responds to attempts at conversation with inspirational zen koans and similar pearls of wisdom, sometimes modified to fit your situation: “How can you learn to kick unless you first empty your cup?” But I grew tired of him before exhausting his content, and the same can be said of the entire game. Which is an appropriate response! This is, above all, a game about boredom, about sitting on a bench and not being trusted with much responsibility by your own teammates. If I spent about a third of the game just typing “z” repeatedly, I have to face the fact that this is basically what a kicker does. Player goals and character goals match perfectly: they’re both all about waiting for the thing to finish.

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