IF Comp 2019: Fat Fair

fatfair.jpgFat Fair (AKheon, Glulx). I’m going to quote from the ABOUT text:

The character of Borsch was adapted from some crude comics me and friends drew back in high school. So, if you were wondering about the humor being slightly juvenile or irreverent, that might be the explanation – it’s all very 90’s.
My main goal with this project was to simply bring this eccentric character from my youth back to life. Besides that, I like flexible and interesting mechanics in games, and that’s also something I tried to evoke in Fat Fair – to create a small sandbox where there’s potential for many surprising interactions.

Here’s the deal with Borsch: he’s ludicrously, grotesquely fat, gluttonous, brutish and stupid. That’s the whole joke.

That’s not “slightly juvenile or irreverent.” That’s mean-spirited, vicious and bigoted. And the author, I think, has some sense of this, which is why we’re getting this minimising explanation and and the the focus-shift onto character-driven story and flexible gameplay mechanics when, like, the central point here is having a gross character do gross things. To clarify, the first puzzle you have to solve involves smashing a tin of food with a rock and then going into a feeding frenzy over the spilled contents. Borsch has been rendered blind because his eyes have so much cholestorol (?), and has to navigate by echolocation using silly noises. We’re not talking low-key or ambiguous fatphobia, here: showing this character as vile is the main thing going on here.

Here’s the thing: I don’t have a problem so much with people having written terrible juvenilia. I’d guess that pretty much anyone who did any art at all in their teens has something awful stuffed in an old folder somewhere. But there are different ways of dealing with that, most straightforwardly “yeah, let’s just let that terrible idea die.” It is not a good response to go “sure, this looks shitty and harmful, but it was all in good irreverent juvenile fun! like South Park! so let’s double down and turn it into a game and inflict it on the world.”

The rest of the game seems to be mostly about murdering people for no very clear reason and disposing of the bodies, with various solutions possible. And, y’know, I could see myself playing a stupid splattery comedy about disposing of inconvenient corpses. I could see the right author making that a real good time. But the tone here has already been established as ‘did I blow your mind with how offensive this shit is?’, which, fuck that noise.

I dunno. Typically I only give out 1s for games which are unplayably broken or not even remotely IF. I’m thinking real hard about this one just for going in so hard on such terrible ideas.

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3 Responses to IF Comp 2019: Fat Fair

  1. George Dorn says:

    The murder-sandbox itself is reasonably well-implemented. I almost want to see that portion extracted and the character replaced with somebody actually funny. But it’s probably not worth it.

  2. Anon says:

    I’m not sure the writer of this realizes how mean spirited and discriminatory this game feels. If this had have been written with the main character being targeted in such a stereotyped negative way to the same extent based on their skin color, nationality, sexuality, gender etc it probably would have cried out of the comp by now.

  3. sojournerstrange says:

    I see my instinct to pass on this one was well founded. Thanks for taking the hit.

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