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01-23-2018

One Hour One Life

Jason Rohrer is probably a name you’ve seen mentioned at least once during your life as a video game fan, but whose work you may be unfamiliar with. He’s an auteur, a one-man-band of a developer who put out his first game more than a decade ago. I first became aware of the man when Alt-Play: Jason Rohrer Anthology was ported to DSiWare. Included in the pack is perhaps his most well-known game Passage, a critical darling and one of those art games some would turn a nose to for valuing a message over mechanics.

That’s how I looked at both Passage and Gravitation the first time I played them. 

“Ugh,” ignorant CJ thought “I get it, you work too much and life is full of difficult choices. Get over yourself.”

It’s easy to dismiss any game with a concrete point-of-view as self-involved, especially if, like me in those years, I thought of gaming as merely a vehicle for delivering entertainment rather than something that makes me keenly aware of my own mortality. And yet, I return to both games on an annual basis. As time passes and my own life continues to be unfulfilled -- fuck me, I turn 33 this year -- the message of both games actually begins to speak to me, now doing so so loudly I see my life and my choices in every pixel on the screen.

Our lives and how we choose to live them is the central theme of Rohrer’s newest game One Hour One Life. It's set to launch later this year as a co-operative civilization building sim played at a micro level: every player starts out as a child living one year for every minute that passes, and as they grow they must decide how they will contribute to and build up a society for future generations to enjoy.

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