Review: Gamedec

Recommendation: I was recently gifted a game on Steam called "Gamedec". I haven't finished it yet, but I can't speak highly enough about it so far. It's a sort of point-and-click adventure where you play a game detective, a futuristic private eye hired for cases that involve gaming. In 22th century Warsaw City, gaming is Serious Business and involves Virtual Reality couches. Gamedecs are a sort of amalgamation of medic, hacker, and influencer, and can be called upon to do things like find missing people in games (if someone cheated or ghosted you) or deal with game disputes or mediate other issues that might not be legal crimes but still need an expert problem-solver. The gamplay involves examining (very large) scenes and talking to people and making choices.

Your first case is: a rich man's 16 year old son went online in his private couch 4 days ago and hasn't logged back on. His system has been tampered with so you can't locate him by his unique login code, and you can't safely pull the plug without risking brain damage. Normally even a seasoned gamer would have surfaced by now, if only to eat some food. He is therefore either unable or unwilling to log out, and you have to find him and decide whether or not to save him. This actually ends up being a very difficult moral choice! There's a lot of moral complexity in the world, but not in a depressing way, at least not for me. More of like...of the two of these options, which one will improve the world best?

World-building-wise, there's discussion of people who've lost their body due to inaccessible healthcare and now can only "live" online as a disembodied consciousness. There's social stratification between the rich and the poor, and exploration of the social injustices of capitalism. The first area is a game called "Twisted and Perverted" and I was afraid it was going to be an anti-BDSM screed but actually the game is more of a "Mad Max Thunderdome" sort of setting where anything goes, and the BDSM people just moved in and made a little thriving subculture inside.

There are so many little details that rub me exactly the right way. For example: in one game, someone takes on an idealized white-imagined avatar of a Native American woman and you can point out that their choice is inappropriate. In another place, you can talk to a man and find out he is pregnant in real life. My character apologized and said, "Sorry! I didn't realize you have a uterus." NOT I-didn't-realize-you-were-a-woman, but just that HE (still male!) didn't have a uterus. The guy then corrected my character again and explained that his pregnancy is in an exowomb. He's just a cis guy who is really hyped about the upcoming baby he's buying diapers for. The womb is hooked into his online sensory system so the baby can "hear" him the same way a baby in a uterus would. That's so cool!

The second mission is about underpaid sweatshop workers being forced to farm lootboxes in Farmville. It's so so good. I don't want to spoil any more but it is really so good. Oh, and I'm playing a guy and I have had two VERY gay relationships so far. Although one of them ended tragically for plot reasons, so uh. Be prepared for that, because it made me sad. But when this game is sad, it makes me sad in a GOOD way, like a really good book or movie tugging just so on my heart-strings. I haven't beaten it yet, but I cannot remember the last time I got so immersed in a game. Like, hours went by without me realizing.


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