Stadia Connect Announces New Games, Timed Exclusives …


  • Google’s cloud gaming service Stadia announced a few games that are coming to the platform through its Stadia Connect event
  • “Super Bomberman R Online,” “Orcs Must Die! 3,” and “One Hand Clapping” are a few of the games that are about to be playable on Stadia
  • Google didn’t have much to say about how Stadia features like crowd play and state share are coming along, or why they appear to only be available for a few games at the moment

Stadia Connect, Google’s streaming event announcing new games for the cloud gaming service, announced some new games are coming to the platform.

“Super Bomberman R Online,” the follow up to 2017’s “Super Bomberman R,” now comes with a 64-player battle royale mode as a timed exclusive. There will be more customization options and additional characters. It will also be coming to Stadia first this fall.

“Orcs Must Die! 3” is out now and free with Stadia Pro. The third game in Robot Entertainment’s tower-defense series is part of a small but growing list of Stadia timed exclusives. You can go play it right now (if you’re willing to buy it on Stadia or pay for a Pro membership).

In the case of “One Hand Clapping,” this 2D musical puzzle platformer has you sing into a mic in order to solve puzzles and get around obstacles.

Splash Damage is making an online shooter for Stadia called “Outcasters.” This is a light and whimsical grind-for-custom-cosmetics multiplayer shooter you might find in an arcade.

Three other developers have Stadia games in the works, notes Kotaku. Harmonix the developers of “Rockband,” Uppercut Games, developers of “City of Brass,” and Supermassive Games, developers of “Until Dawn,” are all working with the Stadia Games development team to make exclusives for the streaming platform.

A few other old games and some new ones will continue trickling onto the platform over the next several months:

  • PGA Tour 2K21 (August 21)
  • Serious Sam 4 (August)
  • Hitman 1 (September 1)
  • Hitman 2 (September 1)
  • WWE 2K Battlegrounds (September 18)
  • Dead by Daylight (September)
  • NBA 2K21 (Fall 2020)
  • Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice (Fall 2020)
  • Outriders (Holiday 2020)
  • Hello Neighbor (September 20)
  • Hello Neighbor: Hide & Seek (Holiday 2020)
  • Hitman 3 (January 2021)

Kotaku laments that Google didn’t have much to say about how Stadia features like crowd play and state share are coming along, or why they appear to only be available for a few games at the moment. There was no news either about any sort of new pricing model that might make buying old games at high prices, games that will remain locked behind your Stadia user account, more appealing.

If Google is patiently playing some sort of long game here, it’s a really, really long game. As we near the service’s one-year anniversary, a lot of those features are still missing, and its game library still feels incredibly light, especially compared to competitors like Game Pass and PlayStation Now.

Google is aiming to bring console-quality play to any connected device with its Stadia game service Google is aiming to bring console-quality play to any connected device with its Stadia game service Photo: GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / JUSTIN SULLIVAN

5 home runs aren’t enough as Cubs fall to Astros 9-6 for 5th loss in 6 games

The Cubs are learning the hard way that five home runs aren’t enough, especially at Minute Maid Park.

Alex Bregman hit two home runs Tuesday night, including a two-run shot off reliever Brad Brach with two out in the bottom of the sixth inning that snapped a tie and sparked the Astros’ 9-6 win.

The loss was the fifth in the past six games for the Cubs (30-23), who remain one-half game ahead of the Brewers in the NL Central.

But holding that margin has become more daunting, thanks to a pitching staff that has allowed 46 runs in its past six games.

QC Games and Breach Are Shutting Down –

In a surprise announcement yesterday, QC Games announced that their studio will be shutting down, as will their action-RPG Breach. It’s not clear just yet what the plan is for sunsetting this title, but the servers are still up and running if you wanted to get one last game in before it goes, though there’s a certain caveat to that (see below).

Here’s the full statement that QC Games posted to their blog yesterday:

Unfortunately, today is the last official day for QC Games, as we begin winding down internal operations on Breach. We’re sure you have a lot of questions about Breach, your accounts, and the future of the game. Our team is still working on defining what this means for Breach and for our community, and we’ll post an updated article soon with answers to as many questions as we can cover.

Servers will remain online at this time and we will be turning off the ability to purchase both the Breach Starter Pack and in-game QC Points tomorrow (April 4th) during a maintenance period. Servers will come back online after our Thursday maintenance for those that want to continue to play Breach, and we hope to provide more information soon.

There was a lot of promise we all saw in Breach when we played it back in January, and hoped to see QC Games get there with some updates. Regrettably, it seems that day will never come. Hopefully all the folks at the studio will be able to find new jobs soon and wish them the best of luck.


Editor’s Note: Last month, players noticed that the game required a connection to the domain iesnare, which is known spyware typically employed by gambling sites, and that the launcher scoured files on the PC that had nothing to do with the game. QC Games responded to these concerns, though that was (understandably) not satisfactory to a number of players. We have not received any further comment from QC Games about this and, now, likely won’t. We felt it was only right to present this information to players and allow them to make their own decision about whether or not to continue playing for however much longer that game will be around.

QC Games shuts down |

Breach studio “winding down internal operations” on Shadow Realms spiritual successor

QC Games, the studio behind the early access action RPG Breach, is shutting down.

In an official post today, QC Games did not offer specific reasons for the shutdown but did say servers would remain online for now. Tomorrow, the game will go down briefly for maintenence while the ability to purchase in-game items is turned off.

“Unfortunately, today is the last official day for QC Games, as we begin winding down internal operations on Breach,” the post reads. “We’re sure you have a lot of questions about Breach, your accounts, and the future of the game. Our team is still working on defining what this means for Breach and for our community, and we’ll post an updated article soon with answers to as many questions as we can cover.”

Breach is a free-to-play co-op action RPG that was conceived as a spritual successor to BioWare’s Shadow Realms after the latter was canceled less than six months after its 2014 announcement. It entered early access in January of this year.

PC Gamers Are Crusading Against ‘Borderlands 3’ Over Epic …

Earlier this week, Gearbox and 2K announced that the former’s highly-anticipated Borderlands 3 will release on September 13 via the PS4, Xbox One, and PC. Of course, PS4 and Xbox One gamers momentarily put aside their differences to celebrate together an earlier than expected release date. Meanwhile, many PC gamers have been crusading and protesting the game. Why? Because alongside announcing the release date, Gearbox and 2K revealed that the title on PC will launch exclusively on the Epic Games Store, and won’t come to Steam until six months later.

In response to the announcement, PC gamers — mostly Steam loyalists — have been sounding off across social media and gaming forums, expressing their displeasure and detailing their reasons why this is bad for the PC gaming community. Here’s just a slither of it:

The protest didn’t stop there though. In 2019, when a games maker makes you made, what do you do? You go review bomb all of their other games on Steam. That’s exactly what happened to the Borderlands series not longer after the announcement:

The backlash was so substantial, that Randy Pitchford, CEO of Gearbox, took to Twitter to provide more context to the situation, pointing out that it isn’t Gearbox who makes decisions like this, it’s the game’s publisher: 2K.

Of course, Pitchford shifting the blame didn’t do much to quell the protests. That said, others have jumped into the conversation, offering different perspectives, and detailing why the backlash, in their minds, is silly.

Borderlands 3 is in development for PS4, PC, and Xbox One, and until the game releases on Steam in April 2020, expect to hear much more about this issue. At the moment of publishing, there’s been no word of a Nintendo Switch port.

For more news, media, and information on the highly-anticipated and zany post-apocalyptic looter-shooter, be sure to peep all of our previous coverage of the game by clicking right here.



Have you subscribed to ComicBook Nation, the official Podcast of yet? Check it out by clicking here or listen below.

In this latest episode, we talk about that Avengers: Endgame trailer, The Walking Dead and more! Make sure to subscribe now and never miss an episode!

Snap rolls out Snapchat ‘Bitmoji Party’ social games, plus …

The company added 10 new shows to its Originals lineup of scripted and nonfiction video, available starting in May, many of which play with the first-person vertical video format native to the app. “2 Sides,” for instance, presents a wrenching teenage breakup as a split screen showing each side of the relationship. “Dead of Night” shows the main character navigating a zombie apocalypse from the point of view of the character’s phone camera. On the nonfiction front, Snap partnered with author, professor and filmmaker MK Asante to produce “While Black,” a docuseries on race in America.

Mobile Games with Fantastic Soundtracks, Part 2 — Tools …

Last week, we featured a list of excellent soundtracks that accompany games for iOS and Nintendo Switch. However, there are so many games and soundtracks to enjoy that we felt it best to split our roundup in two.

Without further ado, here’s the rest of our list.

* * *


OXENFREE — [Soundtrack]

In the critically acclaimed OXENFREE, you play as a rebellious teenage girl named Alex as she embarks on a supernatural adventure when an overnight island party goes horribly wrong.

The soundtrack, created by sound designer Andrew Rohrmann — aka scntfc (“scientific”) — is suitably moody and dramatic, like something you’d hear in an ’80s thriller film. As Jessica Conditt of Engadget accurately put it, it’s “an electronica daydream that fades into a bumping nightmare.”

Get the soundtrack in these places:

Old Man’s Journey is another top-tier story-driven game with a soundtrack by scntfc.


Transistor — [Soundtrack]

Made by the same people behind Bastion (featured in last week’s guide), Transistor is a sci-fi themed action-RPG with lush graphics and, of course, an awesome soundtrack.

You play as Red, a lounge singer whose voice has been stolen. She wields a talking sword named Transistor — who is even more of an actual character within the story than the narrator in Bastion was — and together they fight against a hostile takeover of the city Cloudbank. Battles can take place in real time, or you can pause the action to set up a series of moves that then unfold all at once.

As for the game’s music, you can expect a mesmerizing and futuristic blend of indie rock, trip-hop, and neo-jazz. It’s honestly even better and more atmospheric than the Bastion soundtrack, which is saying something.

Get the soundtrack in these places:


Stardew Valley — [Soundtrack]

Stardew Valley is one of those games that will quickly suck all your free time away if you’re not careful. Not something you’d anticipate from a farming simulator, but true all the same. To match the game’s generally calm and peaceful atmosphere, the expansive soundtrack is as pleasantly soothing as you’d hope.

Get the soundtrack in these places:


SteamWorld Heist — [Soundtrack]

SteamWorld Heist is an outstanding turn-based strategy shooter in which you control Captain Piper Faraday, the leader of a ragtag team of steam-powered pirate robots (oh yeah). You take on rival space robot factions by taking turns using a variety of ricocheting trickshots and abilities, with the goal of collecting loot, upgrading your team, and recruiting more of them along the way.

The game’s music was appropriately recorded by a quirky steampunk-themed musical comedy act known as Steam Powered Giraffe. If that’s not enough to sell you on the soundtrack, I don’t know what will.

Get the soundtrack in these places:


Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP — [Soundtrack]

To this day, the 2011 indie adventure game Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP remains one of the most interesting, engrossing games on the iOS App Store. I almost don’t even want to mention the dreamlike story, because it’s best experienced for yourself (and hard to explain anyway). The pixelated art is absolutely gorgeous though, as is the lush, 8-bit inspired score.

Get the soundtrack in these places:


Broken Age — [Soundtrack]

I’ve been a fan of Tim Schafer’s games since I was a kid, especially Grim Fandango and Psychonauts. The guy is a fantastic storyteller whose games are often charming, humorous, and even a little strange (in the best way). Schafer’s 2014 point-and-click adventure game, Broken Age, proved that he hadn’t lost his touch.

You can read more about what the story entails here. In the meantime, I’ll point out that the wonderful soundtrack is actually a live score recorded by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, with the help of a small ensemble of musicians from San Francisco.

Music supervisor Camden Stoddad had this to say about the game’s music composition:

Broken Age was a very interesting and demanding musical challenge to say the least. The themes and character journeys in Tim Schafer’s wonderful story had a very wide spectrum of emotion. Shades of darkness smoothly blend into surprising twists and heroic revelations. Peter [McConnell] has composed an outstanding score that deftly weaves all these elements together into a warm blanket for the game.

Get the soundtrack in these places:


The Banner Saga (Games 1–3) — [All Soundtrack Links Below]

Stoic’s epic Banner Saga trilogy is a series of tactical role-playing games with surprisingly impactful, story-rich gameplay centered around the tragic hardships of a viking-like clan of people that you’ve been tasked with leading. Composer Austin Wintory’s Nordic-esque fantasy score is a powerful and suitable companion to such a beautiful tale.

Get the soundtracks in these places:


Ridiculous Fishing — [Soundtrack]

Music plays a large part of the addictive fun of Ridiculous Fishing. The basic mechanics of the game are simple: tap the screen to cast your line, tilt your device to move the hook around and avoid hitting any fish for as long as possible, and either reach the end of your line or hit a fish to start reeling your line back in.

The music suddenly shifts into reverse as the hook moves back up, but this time you’re aiming to catch as many fish as possible (with the exception of jellyfish, since they cost you in-game money). Once the hook has reached the surface, this is where the game earns its name, as the fish begin flying into the sky (and even outer space) and you must shoot them with your gun before they fall back to the ocean.

It’s a weird concept but it totally works you will definitely have a blast playing it, then listening to the soundtrack afterward.

Get the soundtrack here:

Video games enter new frontiers – News – Akron Beacon …

NEW YORK — The video game industry is entering new frontiers.

In the past, you plunked down $60 at GameStop for a copy of Grand Theft Auto or Madden NFL and played it out — after which you could trade it in or let it gather dust.

Now, you’ll increasingly have the choice of subscribing to games, playing for free or possibly just streaming them over the internet to your phone or TV.

Welcome to a new world of experimentation in an industry that hasn’t been seriously shaken up since Nintendo launched its home gaming console in the U.S. in 1986 or when mobile gaming surged in popularity a decade ago.

“We’re in an environment where people want content and media when they want it, how they want it,” CFRA analyst Scott Kessler said. “You can play a great video game with a console or on a computer or with a mobile device and you might not have to pay anything. That’s a dramatic departure from even a few years ago.”

Of course, people will still buy and use traditional video games and consoles for years to come. But as games have become more accessible online and on mobile, it is becoming harder to convince people to spend a chunk of money upfront, said Joost van Dreunen, co-founder of research company SuperData.

Game retailer GameStop’s shares fell Wednesday, a day after it projected a revenue drop of 5% to 10% in 2019. And major video game publishers Electronic Arts and Activision Blizzard have announced layoffs.

Responding to changing consumer behavior, video game makers and new entrants like Google are offering new ways to play.

Game streaming

Big players are entering the arena: Google announced Stadia, a console-free game streaming service due out this year. The platform will store a game-playing session in the cloud and let players jump across phones, laptops and browsers with Google’s software.

Google didn’t say how much its new service will cost, whether it will offer subscriptions or other options, or what games will be available at launch — all key elements to the success of a new video-game platform. Google will be hoping to avoid the fate of OnLive, which debuted in 2010 and streamed high-end video games over the internet. The service had promise, but failed to garner a big enough user base. It shuttered in 2015.


Apple announced a subscription service that some are calling the “Netflix of Games .”

Apple Arcade subscribers will get to play more than 100 games, curated by Apple and exclusive to the service. Games can be downloaded and played offline — on the Apple-made iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple TV. Notably, Apple says players won’t have to pay for virtual weapons and other extras — something free mobile games typically charge for. The company didn’t say how much Arcade will cost when it launches this fall.

Free-to-play games

And then there is Fortnite, a free-to-play game that has become a massive hit with its “battle royal” mode winning over millions of fans. In this mode, 100 players battle one another for weapons and armor until only one player is left. Created by Epic Games, which is backed by Chinese mobile behemoth Tencent, a key aspect of the game is being able to play it on anything from your phone to a decked-out gaming PC.

“I like the interactiveness and being able to play with your friends,” said Patrick Penfield, a Syracuse University student. “There are infinite possibilities.”

Free-to-play games such as Fortnite make money from in-app purchases. In Fortnite, for instance, players use real-world money to buy for their characters outfits, gear or “emotes” — brief dances that have become a cultural phenomenon performed on playgrounds, in social media posts and in the scoring celebrations of professional athletes.

Penfield loves that Fortnite is free and says he can’t see himself spending $60 again for a game upfront. He estimates he spends about $10 a month on in-game purchases — meaning he’s spending twice as much in just one year.

The trend started a few years ago with Candy Crush and other mobile games that appealed to casual gamers looking to pass the time on a subway or doctor’s waiting room. The success of Fortnite shows that this model works with more sophisticated styles of games, too. Despite being free to play, it raked in an estimated $2.4 billion in 2018, according to SuperData.

And there are many signs Fortnite isn’t a one-hit wonder. Electronic Arts’ Apex Legends got 50 million players worldwide in its first four weeks. While it doesn’t have a mobile component — yet — its style of game play and revenue model are similar to Fortnite. Meanwhile, Activision Blizzard is working with Tencent on a mobile version of its popular Call of Duty first-person shooter franchise.

But it’s a gamble if users don’t spend enough money in the game itself.

“Even though we can start to see the shape of things to come, it will take a while before they come into focus,” van Dreunen said.

Snap Inc. Unveils “Snap Games” | Technology …

SANTA MONICA, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Apr 4, 2019–Snap Inc. (NYSE:SNAP) today unveiled Snap Games — an all-new real-time multiplayer gaming platform featuring original and third-party games from Game Closure, PikPok, Spry Fox, Zeptolab, and Zynga.

Starting today, Snap will begin rolling out a series of made-for-Snapchat games, each designed for high-fidelity, synchronous gameplay:

  • Bitmoji Party – (Snap Inc.) – Snap’s flagship, first-party IP for Snap Games features you and your friends, brought to life in 3D as your Bitmojis as you compete across four fast-paced mini-games: Pool Party, Kick Off, Spin Session, and Zombie Escape.
  • Alphabear Hustle – (Spry Fox) – Alphabear Hustle is a fast-paced cooperative word game with a twist. Players can work together to spell words, collect cute bears, and build their own personal bear village.
  • C.A.T.S. (Crash Arena Turbo Stars) Drift Race – (ZeptoLab) – C.A.T.S. is a multiplayer racing game that invites up to 6 players to use boosters scattered along the track to race faster, or slow down opponents. Along the way, collect new vehicles from the C.A.T.S. universe.
  • Snake Squad – (Game Closure) – Snake Squad is a multiplayer battle-royale game. Choose your favorite avatar to go into battle and guide your snake around the battlefield with your squad to grow larger to eliminate your competition.
  • Tiny Royale – (Zynga) – Tiny Royale™ is a fast, fun top-down battle royale game — the classic battle royale experience, re-invented for the Snapchat platform. Squad up with friends or go solo during quick 2-minute rounds to loot and shoot your way to victory until only one player—or team—remains.
  • Zombie Rescue Squad – (PikPok) – Team up with your fellow Zombie Rescue Squad friends to enter the front lines of the zombie apocalypse. Rescue survivors from the hungry hordes and gather as many supplies as you can. But if you miss the helicopter to safety, you’ll be left behind!

Snapchatters can dive into gameplay right from Chat, Snapchat’s popular messaging feature, offering friends a fast and intuitive way to start playing.

Snap Games will include monetization opportunities for our game development partners and Snap. The platform will launch with video advertising featuring Snap’s non-skippable, six second Commercials ad format that launched in Q3 2018.

Over the coming months, Snap Games will slowly expand its developer partners across various genres and styles to bring the best gaming experiences to the Snapchat community.

About Snap Inc.

Snap Inc. is a camera company. We believe that reinventing the camera represents our greatest opportunity to improve the way people live and communicate. We contribute to human progress by empowering people to express themselves, live in the moment, learn about the world, and have fun together. For more information, visit

About Game Closure

Game Closure creates technology to author and distribute HTML5 apps and bring them to large audiences, including its own hit messenger game EverWing, an enthralling fantasy shooter to play with friends. Since its foundation in 2011, Game Closure is led by co-founder and CEO Michael Carter. The Game Closure technology platform provides proven tools to author, distribute, optimize, and operate high-performance messenger games.

About PikPok

PikPok is a leading publisher of great games across mobile, tablet, and desktop. With a portfolio of original, licensed, and third party developed properties, PikPok delivers games that appeal to all consumers with pick-up-and-play gameplay, high-quality art, and immersive audio design which provide rich game experiences. PikPok has released multiple critically and commercially successful games including the popular Flick Kick® series, BAFTA nominated Super Monsters Ate My Condo™, Into the Dead®, Shatter®, and more. Steal a moment and play a game from PikPok.

About Spry Fox

Spry Fox is an 18 person company, almost 10 years old, that has launched 15 distinct games, including the award-winning games Alphabear, Triple Town, and Realm of the Mad God, and specializing in original, pro-social games that make the world a happier place.

About ZeptoLab

ZeptoLab is a global company which creates FUN games filled with INNOVATION and polished with its signature QUALITY. After the success of their Cut the Rope games, which have been downloaded over 1.2 billion times, the company released King of Thieves and C.A.T.S.: Crash Arena Turbo Stars, massive multiplayer mobile titles with more than 200 million combined downloads. In 2017, C.A.T.S. won Game of the Year Award in Google Play and was named in Apple App Store’s Best Games list.

About Zynga

Since its founding in 2007, Zynga’s mission has been to connect the world through games. To date, more than 1 billion people have played Zynga’s games across web and mobile, including FarmVille™, Zynga Poker™, Words With Friends™, Hit it Rich!™ Slots and CSR Racing™. Zynga’s games are available on a number of global platforms including Apple iOS, Google Android and Facebook. The company is headquartered in San Francisco, California, and has additional offices in the U.S., Canada, U.K., Ireland, India, Turkey, and Finland.




SOURCE: Snap Inc.

Copyright Business Wire 2019.

PUB: 04/04/2019 02:20 PM/DISC: 04/04/2019 02:20 PM

The Amazon Games – Postyn Smith – Medium

Mental struggles and Gamification in the warehouses

When I first started working for Amazon, a seasoned worker advised, “The ten hour shifts can be pretty grating on your mind. What worked for me was trying to completely zone out — think about nothing — and let my cerebellum take over.” People often talk about the physically treacherous aspects of Amazon’s work practices — the pace of work, the onset of carpal tunnel, and the temperatures in the buildings, but the mental difficulties are similarly grueling.

Whether you are picking, packing, stowing, or in the trucks, the items never stop appearing. The robots never stop coming and going. The conveyor belts never stop moving. All day, everyday, you see endless boxes. We are alone at our individual stations battling to stay afloat in the unending flow of work. Ten and a half hour shifts, four days a week, fifty-two weeks a year. We feel like our minds are melting, but maybe it is better to let them melt than to fight to hold onto our senses. Better to let our minds dissolve than question if time is standing still. Time, the products, the robots begin to feel infinite.

Different workers have different tactics to cope. Many people use the numbered stickers that they label us with each day to cover the time in the corners of our screens. Some people designate periods of the day to stow faster to hopefully get lost in the process. The fastest stower in our building broke the record for stowing over one million items in one year soonest. After receiving little recognition and no advancement, he now wanders the floors of the warehouse loudly shouting and singing to distract from the realities of the work.

Amazon both quantitatively (tracking our rates and scanner use) and qualitatively (through daily surveys) measures how much time we spend doing the task demanded of us, and they have euphemistically called this “engagement.” Amazon recognized our lack of “engagement,” so a group of tech workers created “FC Games.” Now, each of the stowing and picking stations have an extra screen with a small selection of “games.” One of the designers told me that he hoped the game would help workers “pass the time a little better.” In reality, game designers tell each other that the gamification is intended to slow down the turnover rate of workers leaving and to increase the pace of work. They have found that workers with greater engagement with the game are less likely to leave. Rumor has it that this warehouse sees about 2.2% of the employees quit or be fired every week. The designers implemented the games in the pick department first because that department had the highest attrition rate. Before I had “played” one of the games, I asked a picker if he enjoyed the games. He shrugged and said, “It’s better than nothing.”

Most of the games involve some aspect of competition. You might race one-on-one as flying dragons against a nearby worker or compete as a floor against another floor for your Amazon mascot to run faster around the course. In another game, you attempt to complete missions that have you work faster and faster for longer periods of time. They also provide incentives that boost your score for returning from break faster. The programs have finely tuned tricks to tap into your mind so that we work harder, faster, and longer.

I find the last game, Castle Crafter, the most peculiar though. You select different quarries, markets, and castles to build. Since you start at a low level, you are only allowed to build the low level structures, like a quarry. As you work longer and faster, you can build higher level buildings and contribute more points to the building of a specific structure. At the higher levels, you earn the honor of building the castle. The game has a few pre-programmed messages that you can send to other workers, like: Please, Quarry, Castle, Help, Wow, Market. In the short sessions where I’ve played, I briefly amuse myself by mashing the Help and Please buttons.

It took me almost seven months to realize that the designers had gamified feudalism. We are literally serfs helping to mine the quarries and build the castle. My knowledge of the Middle Ages and feudal structures is spotty so perhaps we have actually been given a promotion to build the castle rather than just tend to the lord’s fields, but the narrative is quite clear. My coworkers and I wonder about the game designers’ intentions. Were they trying to be subversively clever and make a point about the nature of our work? Or, were they unconsciously connecting our work relations to those of feudalism? Capitalists just musing about feudalism?

One of the game designers mentioned to me that after they introduced the games into the stow department, they were having trouble with getting stowers to engage with them. Months later, many of the menu screens sit idle. A pop-up window sits in front asking workers: How much would you agree with the following statement: Work is more enjoyable with FC Games? With the options: Completely Agree, Agree, Neither Disagree [sic], Disagree, Completely Disagree, I prefer not to answer. Many people so infrequently interact with the screens that they sit idle with a grey tint and a spinning idle cursor. Only at the very end of the day do some workers tap open the games to find out how many items they have stowed or picked that day and dividing the total by our ten hours days, we can learn whether or not we have made our rate for the day. We can at least use the games to avoid the surprise of being written up by a manager for not making rate.

A big tech company, like Amazon, would naturally assume that video games (more technology) could be the win-win solution they are looking for. The games help workers “pass the time” or be more “engaged” while also getting more work done. But more tech and gamification are clearly not the answers to our disengaging and endless work. The “FC Games” are not even a Band-Aid for the symptoms wrought by the grueling nature of the task, the endlessness of the work, and confronting what infinity mentally feels like. In fact, the games exacerbate many difficult aspects of the work. Perhaps the game designers consulted with the misguided healers of the Middle Ages instead. Like the feudalism games they conjure, the games are leeches sucking more and more from the psychological wounds of the work — but maybe this will balance the bodily humors.

In the virtual feudalism game, it is never made clear who is the lord for whom we are building the castle. We could only assume that we were building the castles for the richest man on Earth, but to be clear, we now ask:

Your Highness Lord Jeffrey Preston Bezos,

I am writing to you, Sir, on behalf of your most hard working and history making associates in your Fulfillment Centers to ask if the castles that we toil to build each day are for you, our Lord. I have the honor to be, Sir, Your Majesty’s humble and obedient servant.