Briefs is a micro publising initiative, that gives out small grants for small digital games. Think jam sized. Think € 1000 for that effort. You will find a link to submit a project at the bottom of this page, but do read carefully what is required beforehand.
We want to see games done fast rather than games that can be played fast. It’s up to you whether to make an infinitely replayable game with little focus on presentation, or a two second game with almost AAA production. We recommend spending 40 hours on development total. What you make with it is up to you.
We are looking for a digital game playable on a windows PC. Other platforms and OS are up to you. We’re not accepting analogue or tabletop games.
The game shouldn’t have any unintentional game-breaking bugs upon delivery. The game needs to be completed by June 2022.
The topic is ABSURD. While we welcome games exploring the futility of life or a fruitless revolt of the flesh in the face of inevitable entropy, we want to encourage you to make games the way absurdists theater, literature, and film made their works. Make games wrong.
For example, Theater of The Absurd was an antagonistic vehicle, challenging concepts like exposition, genre exclusivity, and aristotelian plots. Absurd games have plenty of game design staples to challenge too. Like tragicomedy was borne of the absurd, so can be flowstration as a challenge of the ubiquitous flow.
Think what would a jarring difficulty dip, broken reward system, pointless mechanics, and denied satisfactions could do to players. What they can be telling, what could you point to with those tools?
While we fully appreciate surrealist settings and indeed heterotopia is one of the tenets of Absurd, don’t make it the focus. Surrealism has a pattern to it, maybe the logic and coherency is obscure, but it’s ultimately understandable. Absurd isn’t supposed to be.
Absurd media is a rebellion. Whether it’s political or formal, challenging the real world or the industry, absurd is an antagonistic way to claim attention.
To aid you in your application and development, here are some points and examples as to what we want. There is no need (or even possibility) to incorporate all.
- Omit, distort, contradict exposition. Extend it to telegraphing too. Weaponize the tutorial. Contradict visual and aural cues.
- Blend genres akin to tragicomedy. Not an RPG shooter. Two of the most popular major genres would be Power Fantasy and Horror (the reverse, I’d argue). The example here would be Nuclear Throne with full screen jump scares. Maybe.
- Heterotopic settings. Worlds with laws and rules we can never understand as people.
- Non-Aristotelian plots, parabolic structures. Who needs an ending anyway?
- Self-destruction. The game gives up on you halfway through and just ends.
- Brevity. Extremely short playtime.
- Flowstration. Actively disrupt the flow. Make the breaks jarring. Reward with a BFG, refuse the use of it.
- Anti-agency. Take away all agency from the player.
These are tools and methods we want to see applied. What they are applied to is up to you. Whether it's formal and challenges the way this medium operates, or political and addresses real life issues it’s up to you.
Here are some examples from different media that can be called absurdist. Some of them aren’t short, but it’s one of the goals of Briefs to make more short games for the world.
Duck Date (The pilot game of the Briefs!)
Start with Cuack, Atomic Wand, Spirit of the Machine!
Games from Cannibal Interactive
Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension
Synecdoche, New York
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead
Theater und Literatur
Samuel Beckett, Eugenio Ionesco, Adrienne Kennedy, Amiri Baraka, Theater of Absurd in general, Boris Vian, Daniil Kharms, Michael Y. Bennett`s works on the absurd, Evgeni Puzankov`s thesis on Absurd Games, Albert Camus' Myth of Sisyphus.
Read enough? Good, you can apply here