Two Minute Game Crit – Exoptable Money

 

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Transcript:

Hello, I’m Stephen Beirne, you can find me in longform at Normally Rascal.

Here’s a game called Exoptable Money made by someone named Wertpol. The premise is, you’ve come across this mysterious box that churns out money – not an ATM though – and you’ve taken it home to have it do just that and make you rich.

It is the best staring-at-a-box-making-money simulator that I’ve ever played.

You can spend your money on upgrades to have it produce more money, and then things like sapphires and other unlockable things and a cat which pops up onscreen and when you hover over the cat it loves you.

Sometimes when you make a purchase you receive a letter from a couple of interested parties… who are all bastards. They’re just interested in your money. All things considered, you might not be surprised to hear it’s a game about capitalism.

Wertpol’s made another game more recently called Presentable Liberty, which is also about capitalism. You’re imprisoned in an empty cell with nothing to do but you’ve got these penpals who write you letters and tell you about the world, and gradually send gifts to help you stave off the boredom.

Before long I got this weird sense of the cell as this kind of familiar, cosy space while also being frustrated with all these shite gifts, coupled with my penpals’ paper-thin infatuation with me. Like they’re only there to endear my incarceration and flatter my ego. But their efforts to placate me made me hollow and angry.

I see some people writing how they got this profound human connection out of these penpals’ correspondence and it’s like Jesus Christ ye are probably the same people who fell in love with Yorda from Ico. They’re not characters, they’re morphine drips.

Anyway, in Presentable Liberty you’re the capitalistic idea of a consumer, whereas in Exoptable Money you’re a capitalist yourself, making money in order to be able to make more money and all that

Initially it’s great, living the fantasy of having money just trickling in and becoming richer and richer. After a while, sitting there watching cash falling out of the box becomes kind of hypnotic, the flapping of notes and the clinking of coins forms a melody together with the slow, entrancing background music.

And the game goes on and on until making money loses its fantasy and aesthetic appeal. But there’s still things to unlock so you keep plugging away joylessly, buying things to make more money to buy more things to make more money.

I won’t spoil it but there’s an exact moment when you know you’ve lost a bit of your soul in the pursuit of boundless riches. It gets more and more gruesome until by the end everything’s destroyed and your transformation into a capitalist is complete.

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I’m Stephen Beirne and you can find me at these places. Thanks for watching.

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Detestable Presentable Liberty

Detestable Presentable Liberty

Words and artwork by Stephen Beirne. This piece is community funded – if you enjoyed this article and would like the header image for a wallpaper, please support my writing by visiting my Patreon and becoming a patron. 

Spoilers for Presentable Liberty, a game by Wertpol. You don’t have to have played it before reading on but it’s well worth your time.

Speaking to Abnormal Mapping on the devastation capitalism wrecks on labourers forced to exist in its spaces, Lana Polansky says of a friend working in the games industry:

“He said to me verbatim, ‘I know I sold my soul to the devil for a decent paycheque.’ […] I said to him, you know, I have no job stability and I had to fight tooth and nail to get a decent income. After four or three years of working I had to fight for an additional year to busk for the money I have now. But at least I have my freedom. I have no stability and no benefits.”

This came in context of, among many things, the banjaxed atrocity that was Assassin’s Creed Unity, and its predecessor Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag’s modern day setting of Abstergo Entertainment, alluding to Ubisoft as a soulless totalitarian videogame company. Both were regarded by the larger games press with all the detachment of a contented dilettante, unable to connect their subtext and inoperability with the working conditions that inspired the end result.

On Unity’s release, many folks were more interested in lamenting ‘patch culture’ than in calling for labour unionization, despite the clue being in the title. As examples go, it is just one raindrop in a torrent. I have to indict myself in this too, because we are a culture bred to consume simply in order to fulfil ideals of consumerism. There’s no time to consider the human cost of our purchases; we must feast. Continue reading