My Games

Some sketches and doodles of my own that I’ve made in the course of attempting to better understand the interactive medium. I host these creations here not because they are “necessary” to anyone by any means, but because, for me, they are part of the discussion with which this website is concerned. I do not hold them up as great or noteworthy, but only as trifling experiments that may or may not be of interest.

The Gametrekking Omnibus screenshot

The Gametrekking Omnibus

Created with: AS3/FlashPunk

The Gametrekking project was a Kickstarter-funded endeavor to use games as a kind of travel writing: the idea was to travel Asia and make short computer games (and notgames) about the things that impacted me along the way. This omnibus is a downloadable collection of the games that came out of the journey.

Gametrekking has been featured by Wired, PC Gamer, EGMi, Le Monde, and others. You can learn more (and find a full list of press coverage) at gametrekking.com.

 

To play:

 

Some kind words:

An amazing accomplishment… Interactive art doesn’t have to be bad. You’ve proved it! (Jason Rohrer, creator of Passage and The Castle Doctrine).

This is, as far as I know, a unique project, and one that pushes the medium a little bit further into new ground by using the game (or notgame) as a means of representing social, political and cultural information in a unique form (Chris Bateman, author of Beyond Game Design and Imaginary Games).

What I have played can only be described as poetic (Raph Koster, author of A Theory of Fun for Game Design).

Very impressive (Patrick Klepek, senior reporter at Gawker Media).

Something I’d like to say… Jordan, your ‘notgames’ have done something. They hack and slash at the curtains we put up to shield ourselves from the ugly truth. That in reality, evil is decided by the individual. Among other messages. This, and your other games have a simple brutality, depressing and dark. But it’s also deeply informative and touching. They’ve given true insight on the human range of emotions, I’d say. I know that these short notgames you create bring out the best in my character. Make me sad, make me happy and many times, severely upset. I know I’ve learned from you, as many others could say they have. So please, keep on trekking. I want to learn more. (Whatafurry, Newgrounds)

On the flip side:

Not really my type of game. (jacksonxwarrior, Newgrounds).

Find a bug? Please let me know.

A Brief History of Cambodia screenshot

A Brief History of Cambodia

Created with: AS3/FlashPunk

Play now: Play in browser

A small sketch about the history of Cambodia. Takes a few minutes to play through, and requires no gaming skills. Made for my GameTrekking project.

Discussion and Reactions: NewgroundsGameTrekking.

 

Some kind words:

Creepy, awful, and amazing (Jason Rohrer, creator of Passage and The Castle Doctrine).

As I was drowning each victim, I honestly felt like crying. Your work is amazing and please continue to make more. I always liked video games, but you have taken interactive media to a whole new level (Adnan Khan, GameTrekking comments).

On the flip side:

Sorry, but I really don’t get your idea. I understand your metaphor, but it’s way too generic to be associated with Cambodia (maringtr, Newgrounds).

Find a bug? Please let me know.

Grandmother screenshot

Grandmother

Created with: AS3/FlashPunk

Play now: Play in browser

A tiny interactive sketch about the mundane things of life which are also sacred; inspired by being in Vietnam during Tết. Takes about three minutes to play through, and requires no gaming skills. Made for my GameTrekking project.

Discussion and Reactions: NewgroundsGameTrekking.

 

Some kind words:

Simple and lovely (Jason Rohrer, creator of Passage and The Castle Doctrine).

Wonderful (Robert Brown, Cartoonist).

Unforgettable. Simple and stunning. Kinda reminds you not to forget about the one’s you’ve lost. (phantomsgirll, Newgrounds).

Brief but compelling. Made me ponder over my quite lax attitude towards commemorating the departed. I’m grateful. (Piotr, GameTrekking comments).

Again I was surprised by your singular approach to the interactive medium. I have to say that when I want to give a new vision of the interactive medium to someone I generally talk about your work (Cyprien Chevillard, Art director at Les Improvisiak’s).

Find a bug? Please let me know.

The Heart Attack screenshot

The Heart Attack

Created with: AS3/FlashPunk

Play now: Play in browser

A small notgame about two disparate lives that collide in Vietnam. Takes about five minutes to play through, and requires no gaming skills. Made for my GameTrekking project.

Discussion and Reactions: NewgroundsGameTrekking, Twitter

 

Some kind words:

Devastating… left me absolutely sobbing with awe (Jason Rohrer, creator of Passage and The Castle Doctrine).

A very moving experience (Lisa Liu, GameTrekking comments).

Very powerful (InsanePenguin99280, Newgrounds).

Vient alors le moment tant redouté. Je disais qu’il n’y avait pas de surprise: je mentais. Certes, nos prévisions étaient bonnes, et le gameplay est bien tel que nous l’avions imaginé. Mais aurions nous pu imaginer la violente succession de ces images que nous n’avons pas même le temps de regarder? (Pierrec, L’Oujevipo).

On the flip side:

Not really my type of game. (jacksonxwarrior, Newgrounds).

Find a bug? Please let me know.

The Killer screenshot

The Killer

Created with: AS3/FlashPunk

Play now: Play in browser

A small notgame inspired by the thousands of senseless killings committed in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge regime. Requires no gaming skills whatsoever. Takes about three minutes to play through. Made for my GameTrekking project.

Discussion and Reactions: Newgrounds, Giant Bomb, GameTrekking, Twitter.

 

Some kind words:

Powerful, right? (Patrick Klepek, senior reporter at Gawker Media).

I recommend The Killer as a great example of using retro sensibilities in entirely new ways. The 8-bit style pixel graphics are resonant of the early home computers, but the play (or rather experience) of this artlet is not like anything from the 1980s. Its sensibilities are clearly aesthetic and representational – it asks you to put yourself into a particular situation, and the more you accept its fiction the more effective it will be in terms of its emotional impact. Highly recommended (Chris Bateman, author of Beyond Game Design and Imaginary Games).

What is most interesting about The Killer is that it is a simple, short, independently developed game with a simple message. There is no totality to Magnuson’s argument, neither to this editorial, nor does it make the world’s most coherent and poignant commentary on Cambodia, or on interactivity in games. It does, however, inspire conversation and discussion around an unavoidable issue that will forever trouble video games and their violent tendencies. Not only this, but it goes some way to promote an understanding of our beloved interactive medium as something with serious artistic and social potential (Fraser Elliot, Robot Geek article).

A lot more thought-provoking than its simple title suggests (Eric Caoili, GameSetWatch).

A short game but no less affecting for that – it’s surprising and thoughtful and has a reason for being, which is more than can be said for a whole lot of games these days ("25 Great Games From 2011", Don’t Shoot For Food).

I have seldom experienced such raw emotion from a video game. I have traveled to a few of the places featured in your games and learnt a small proportion of their history in the process. however, after playing each game I had to research more and more and more (Dan B, GameTrekking comments).

On the flip side:

This isn’t deep or powerful in any way… It’s cheap. It’s a piece of art… that uses an emotionally impactful scene like a mass grave as a cheap grab at your heart strings to say "You should care about Cambodia" (insanejedi, comment at Giant Bomb).

Pretentious games, movies and books make me sick. Especially the ones that tell me I need to care about something (Fenrisulfr, comment at Giant Bomb).

Find a bug? Please let me know.

The Kindness of Strangers screenshot

The Kindness of Strangers

Created with: AS3/FlashPunk

Play now: Play in browser

A small, autobiographical notgame featuring slideshows and narration, inspired by all the wonderful people my wife and I met while traveling in Taiwan. Takes only a few minutes to play through once, though a second play will offer a different experience. Made for my GameTrekking project.

Discussion and Reactions: TIGForumsNewgroundsGameTrekking.

 

Some kind words:

Touching (Stephen “increpare” Lavelle, creator of English Country Tune and Puzzle Script).

Wonderful story, it’s almost surreal. Being born and raised in the more impoverish parts of the states, the only thing I’ve ever known from people is deception, greed, and hatred. (Nagneto, Newgrounds).

Since I live in Taiwan and have for seven years now, I was a little skeptical, but still curious what you’d have to say about the place. I think between this and your other Taiwan game, you pretty much nailed it on both counts. Great work. (Geof Aberhart, GameTrekking comments).

The amazing story in the background… I simply have no words for it. (evilmini, Newgrounds).

Ce que vous trouvez à la sortie est un cœur, et vous finirez The Kindness of Strangers heureux et grandis de cette expérience. Ce n’était pas un labyrinthe, c’était une agréable promenade. (Pierrec, L’Oujevipo).

 

Find a bug? Please let me know.

Taiwan screenshot

Taiwan

Created with: AS3/FlashPunk

Play now: Play in browser

A microgame about Taiwan’s complex and tenuous relationship with China. The game continues to evolve as you survive for longer periods of time. Made for my GameTrekking project.

Discussion and Reactions: TIGForums, Newgrounds, GameTrekking.

 

Some kinds words:

Taiwan… That is my home…!! Thank you for making such a project about our precious little island. I really appreciate it.^^ (RaidenWarrior, Newgrounds).

On the flip side:

Nice to do once, or twice. I could have continued, but without a decent goal it gets boring. (janishri, Newgrounds).

Find a bug? Please let me know.

5 Colors Pandora screenshot

5 Colors Pandora

Created with: Game Maker 8

Download for: Windows

Source: Game Maker 8

An exploration game about colors and their consequences. Not particularly long, but a bit more difficult than my usual offerings. Hints are included in the download, and a complete video playthrough is available on YouTube (thanks Ortoslon).

5 Colors Pandora was originally made for Ludum Dare 16, where it came in 9th (out of 121 entries)… it was later entered into the 6th Gamer Maker Competition, where it made the final 15 (out of 275 entries).

Discussion and Reactions: TIGForums, Ludum DareYoYo GamesIndieGames.com.

 

Some kind words:

[One of] a selection of games released in 2010 which I absolutely loved (Terry Cavanagh, creator of VVVVVV and Super Hexagon).

One word: GENIUS! (Atomic, LD Feedback).

Absolutely brilliant… I liked this game so much that, when I accidentally quit the game by hitting escape trying to pause when I got a phone call near the very end, I played it all the way through again just to finish (Philomory, LD Feedback).

Astonishing (Sos, LD Feedback).

Unique and intriguing (Frimkron, LD Feedback).

Deceptively deep (SonnyBone, LD Feedback).

The best game I have seen in this competition so far in every aspect (Risko, LD Feedback).

On the flip side:

Meh. Nice atmosphere, but lots of backtracking and the ending… pff (Anonymous, IndieGames.com comments).

Find a bug? Please let me know.

Walk or Die screenshot

Walk or Die

Created with: AS3/FlashPunk

Play now: Play in browser

More poem than game, Walk or Die is a study in the most minimalistic interaction I could think of. Does it  deserve to be called "interactive" at all? You decide. Made for the TIGSource "A Game By Its Cover" competition; you can see the cart that inspired it here.

In 2014 Walk or Die was exhibited in a Madrid art exhibition curated by Andrés Oliva and Daniel Alonso.

Discuss at the Notgames Forums, FlashPunk Forums, or TIGForums.

 

Some kinds words:

Nice! (Michaël Samyn, co-creator of Sunset and The Path).

I played it for at least ten minutes, while walking on my treadmill :D… I really like it (axcho, Notgames Forums).

It made me think about a lot of things for the 20 minutes I held the spacebar down. Mostly about mortality and solitude (Albert L., NG Comments).

Thirty… minutes… addicted. Something about this was just so… tranquil (Reetva, TIGForums).

On the flip side:

This game is exactly what I expected it to be. Which is kind of disappointing, really (Soulliard, TIGForums).

Find a bug? Please let me know.

Loneliness screenshot

Loneliness

Created with: AS3/FlashPunk

Play now: Play in browser

An experimental, minimalistic microgame about loneliness, made for the Korean middle school students I taught for a year. 

Loneliness was an official selection of the Extra Credits Innovation Awards 2011, in the category of Narrative Delivery. It was also the focus of episode 25 of Extra Credits season 4: Mechanics as Metaphor.

In 2012 Loneliness was featured in CURA.

Discussion and Reactions: Ludum DareNotgames Forums, TIGForumsFlashPunk ForumsNewgrounds, Kongregate, TwitterIndieGames.com.

 

Some kind words:

Affected me the first time, and even more strongly the second (Gregory Weir, creator of Necropolis and The Majesty of Colors).

What’s amazing about it is that it undeniably has a narrative, even though it features no words… but what’s more incredible to me is how different that narrative can be for different people… This game not only tries to put us in the emotional state of that crushing loneliness… but it lets us explore it, and this to me is the unique power games have (James Portnow, co-creator of the Extra Credits video lesson series).

Made me really really really really really really really really really sad inside (Elspeth, NG Comments).

Worth every second (PlayIndieGames.Wordpress.com).

I can’t say that this game makes me feel particularly lonely, or particularly sad. But what it does do (very well, I think), is force me to make a decision: will I continue to engage, even though I KNOW it’s fruitless, or will I give up? And that question, I think, is profound. Because that IS what loneliness feels like: a never ending pattern of rejection. A hopeless state which will not change. And the only choices are to despair (to move, alone, into the dark), or to continue to pour out energy in what we believe (what we feel we KNOW) to be a pointless endeavor. What I loved about the game was that it demonstrated that, despite my knowledge of futility, I couldn’t choose isolation (AmelMag, NG Comments).

On the flip side:

Ye gods, it’s not emo sixth form poetry these days is it, it’s dreadful indie games (Kate S, Twitter).

So grauenhaft wie das und seine anderen Spiele programmiert sind, glaube ich eher dass er diese "schlichte" Aufmachung leider nur wählt weil er es nicht besser kann (Besucher2778, Spreeblick.com).

The meta-game reason for it aside; it does have nice music and visuals, but you can’t use ‘minimalist’ as an excuse for not having any real content. There’d be many ways to take some time and actually give it a point beyond the meta-game point to it. Games can have meanings and messages beyond just being a ‘game,’ but a game must have some sort of rules and goals to it to fulfill its primary purpose as a game. Without that, it doesn’t matter the reasoning or point to it, it’ll just be dull (Pyrewraith, Kongregate).

Lame as fuck (Greg, IndieGames.com comments).

Find a bug? Please let me know.

Being There screenshot

Being There

Created with: Inform 7

Download for: All Platforms

An extremely experimental little work of interactive fiction with pictures, about existence and Korea. Being There requires that you download and install a free Glulx interpreter.

Once you’ve installed a Glulx interpreter, go ahead and download Being There. You’ll need to unzip it, then open it with the Glulx interpreter.

Discuss at the Notgames ForumsTIGForums, or the IFDB.

 

Some kind words:

An Ode to Joy… the joy of living, the joy of experiencing and acting—that is what this game is about (Victor Gijsbers, author of The Baron and Fate).

I really enjoyed it. Evoked a strong feeling of nostalgia—memories of chilly autumn days at the park and such. The photos were lovely. I loved all of the different interactions you programmed in—it was quite compelling just exploring this mysterious, kind of magical world. Made me feel like I was a kid again (Adam, TIGForums).

I have played through it five times so far. The pictures seem alive and the actions are awesome… It felt like I was there. I just wish it wasn’t so short (Brendan Magnuson, my brother).

A touching travelogue… a love letter to Korea (Peter, IFDB).

On the flip side:

In the end, it really doesn’t say very much about either existence or Korea (Felix Larsson, IFDB).

Find a bug? Please let me know.

Freedom Bridge screenshot

Freedom Bridge

Created with: AS3/FlashPunk

Play now: Play in browser

Readme: Readme.txt

Source: Online at GitHub

A very small notgame about Freedom Bridge, in Korea. Takes about two minutes to play through.

In 2011 Freedom Bridge was showcased by Extra Credits as one of twenty-seven "most interesting games of recent years that you might not have tried (or heard of)." In 2012 it featured in the Belgian textbook, Les Serious Games: Une Revolution.

Discussion and Reactions: Notgames Forums, TIGForumsFlashpunk Forums, NewgroundsKongregate, Twitter.

 

Some kind words:

One of the most intense interactive experiences I’ve ever had. I went on and watched some short documentaries about Korea afterwards in order to process the tension it had left me with (Mitsche, FlashPunk Forums).

I’ve listened to countless NPR stories and read dozens of New York Times pieces on the complicated situation between North and South Korea, but nothing emotionally immobilized me the same way that Jordan Magnuson’s Freedom Bridge did (Patrick Klepek, EGMi issue 241.5, page 5).

One of the best video games I’ve played all year (Fraser McMillan, Resolution Magazine).

An excellent demonstration of how you can use the medium to really have an impact (Brooks Harrel, college student with a ‘starving artist’ passion for game design).

Short, to the point, and beautiful (benedict, FlashPunk Blog).

Very much worth the quick playthrough! (GameSetWatch).

I often take issue with games this short and message-centric, but it was very effective (Bryan Suchenski).

Here, despite being the barest representation possible, is something far more deeply affecting than the biggest budget "emotional experience" being crafted today (Eolirin, Raph Koster’s Blog).

Best flash game ever? (multiple posts on Twitter).

On the flip side:

Sorry, but I have a hard time calling this a game. The supposed interaction was so limited as to be meaningless (BigJonno, Resolution Magazine comments).

You know, a game doesn’t become good or moving just because a poignant message is flashed at the end (Desper, Resolution Magazine comments).

 

Find a bug? Please let me know.

Country Connect! screenshot

Country Connect!

Created with: PyGame

Download for: Windows

A game of world travel inspired by the 10 Days board games and aimed at casual game players. It was designed with netbooks in mind, for Intel’s Atom Developer Challenge. It was chosen by Intel as the best education & reference application of the contest. 

The game was made in Python, which means that Mac and Linux builds should be possible. If anyone is interested in porting the game, feel free to check out the source code on GitHub. Please let me know if you do anything with it :)

Discuss at the TIGSource Forums.

 

Some kind words:

Before you know it you are immersed in a knowledge of world geography. It’s almost like cheating, the education is so easy and fun here (Intel App Developer Blog).

Find a bug? Please let me know.

Terrorist Killer screenshot

Terrorist Killer

Created with: Game Maker 8

Download for: Windows

Source: Gmk File

A short political game about terrorism and the war on terror. Originally made for the Kokoromi one-button challenge

I’m afraid it may be a bit heavy-handed, but then again, so is life.

Terrorist Killer was an official selection of the Extra Credits Innovation Awards 2011, in the category of Positive Impact.

Discuss at TIGForums.

 

Some kind words:

A very effective use of the medium… The brutal simplicity of it is precisely what makes it powerful (Jonas Kyratzes, creator of Phenomenon 32 and The Book of Living Magic).

A game that makes a point without forgetting that it has to be a game (PC Gamer).

On the flip side:

Meh. Tasteless game. So if you need to butcher countless innocents to stop the “OMG TERRORISTS”, how exactly are you any better than them? (Diasp0ra, PC Gamer).

Find a bug? Please let me know.

Bunnies vs. Bunnies screenshot

Bunnies vs. Bunnies

Created with: Game Maker 7/8

Download for: Windows

A game I created with the help of Mitchell Hillman in an "extended weekend" (five days) for the mini Ludum Dare #14 48-hour game creation competition.

The game is short (five levels), and shouldn’t take long to play through. If you find a level too frustrating or difficult, you can use the "N" key to skip to the next one. 

You can find discussion related to the game and a link to an old, more challenging version with a time limit at the TIGSource Forums.

Some kind words:

Awesome effort (Alex Higgins, Zandair Studios).

Wonderful. At first I thought, this is like SimAnt. I changed my mind. I don’t remember ghettos and Gatling guns in SimAnt (Jed Davis, NG Comments).

Find a bug? Please let me know.

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