Killing Time at Lightspeed was made by Sydney dev John Kane (@gritfish) which is awesome, because it meant that when I played and subsequently loved it I got to tell him in person and see him grin.
It tells a story in a way that seems perfectly natural for our day and age, by letting you scroll through a social media feed and absorb the information you’re seeing, occasionally liking or commenting on things. By now you’re probably thinking “oh man that’s so clever, why didn’t I think of that?” and it really is, taking a part of all of daily routines and turning it into a framework through which to create fiction.
That’s not the only twist it puts on the familiar though: this game came out as part of the Antholojam, a “golden era of science fiction” jam curated by Zoe Quinn and Alex Lifschitz, the former of whom has been the primary target of a ridiculous slut-shaming hate campaign tirading as a whistleblowing movement, a.k.a. GamerGate. It was also in development during the Ferguson riots. One of the reasons this game struck such a strong chord with me is that it was inspired by his social media experience during that period, which it turns out was remarkably similar to mine: watching minorities struggle to have their basic human rights respected from halfway across the planet, feeling helplessly outside the sphere of being able to influence anything going on.
John talks about this in an interview with Killscreen:
“In the lead up to writing KTALS, there were a few events that were dominating the headlines of my Twitter feed, even if they weren’t on the local news: Gamergate and Ferguson. Both horrible, vile tragedies that still haven’t gone away. But here I am, on the other side of the planet, completely unable to do anything for my friends except to say ‘This is terrible, I’m sorry, I don’t understand it, I don’t know what to do, is there ANYTHING I can do?’”
The themes in the game operate as a metaphor for the tumultuous period in which it was created, which is great, I love it. This game will live on as window into the struggles of this time, which is all too rare in subject matter tackled by games. Major kudos to John!