Gamers on a roll

Familiar problems during the Covid lockdown get an airing in the video game.

IT had to happen: A locally produced video game has captured Perth during its Covid lockdown madness.

The retro-style Sonny Yang’s Incredibly Inconvenient Pandemic Game was made by Perth comedians Yang and Alice McCullagh (Alice Mack on stage) and features a protagonist struggling with crowded shops, closed pubs and a toilet paper shortage.

It’s an old school throwback to 90s adventure games like Day of the Tentacle and Sam & Max Hit the Road, but with the action taking place in and around Beaufort Street and the CBD.

At last year’s Fringe festival Yang performed a surreal live show featuring his “Incredibly Stupid Adventure Game” where the crowd could yell out suggestions on where to wander and who to pick a fight with.

Comedy

The comedian was planning to perform it at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, but that got canned along with the rest of the comedy scene as venues closed for Covid. 

The pair stayed indoors instead and programmed this Covid-safe version, nabbing some funding from Vincent council’s Covid arts relief grants.

Yang says he was working on an entirely different story for a downloadable chapter of his Fringe show “when COVID reared its ugly head and inspired me to change the plot to be relevant to contemporary events.”

McCullagh says: “I saw Sonny’s original show at Fringe last year. I thought it would be really fun as an online game. At the time, we were both super busy with other comedy projects though. 

“Then, Covid-19 came along, which gave us both a lot of free time, and I think also made me more passionate about creating a form of comedy that could be enjoyed entirely online.

“For a while, I’ve wanted to work on a project that combines my ‘day job’ (computer programming) with the stand up comedy I do for fun. 

“Obviously, due to Covid-19 restrictions, there aren’t so many opportunities to do live comedy. 

“While luckily a lot of venues are back open in Perth, there isn’t really the option to travel and perform material in other cities. So, doing a comedy video game seemed like a great way to keep making funny, creative things and also get them out to a wider audience.”

The game takes about 20 minutes to play through if you’re familiar with the strange puzzle logic of 90s games, and during that time you’ll likely end up in the Mount Lawley Hospital about 35 times. 

It’s thick with strange and comic encounters in familiar places, and encounters with a mix of slightly-assistive and deeply, comically unhelpful characters.

“I wanted to make a game about the pandemic that dwells on all the minor personal inconveniences people have faced rather than focusing on any ‘big picture’ issues,” Yang says.

The game’s free to play at http://www.pandemic-game.com.au and Yang’s Incredibly Stupid Adventure Game is at Fringe February 5, 6, 11 and 12, tickets via fringeworld.com.au

by DAVID BELL

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