Electron Dance
13Apr/190

Dabbling With… Cyberpet Graveyard

The eleventh episode of a short series on games I discovered at EGX Rezzed 2019.

Alright, you know it. It's Nathalie Lawhead time.

I have an imaginary love/hate relationship with Lawhead's work. Whenever I see one of her works ambling down the street towards me, I always think, ya know, that's not my kind of thing, I'll just cross to the other side and let it pass. But sometimes I don't cross the road and then I have these feelings:

  • this is very mad
  • this is very happy

Then again, I still haven't tried out Everything is going to be OK (2017) nor RUNONCE (remember_me) (2019) in which you get a "downloadable friend" that you can run once... but never again. Forget about Citizen Kane, I was worried RUNONCE was the game equivalent of Bambi's mother getting shot dead.

Anyway, I did not cross over the road at Rezzed. I sat down in front of Cyberpet Graveyard (2018) in the Leftfield Collection.

And now I wonder if I should just write [THIS PARAGRAPH INTENTIONALLY LEFT BLANK]. To blab too much about a work like this kills it, a bit like what happened to Bambi's mom. It is very silly. And if I tell you about why it's silly I'm going to be robbing you of those moments where you, too, get to think oh gosh this is silly. It is about cyberpets that were developed for a 90s game, yet they were so "unlikeable and unwanted" they were never released. But, finally, digital historians have rescued them.

Cyberpet Graveyard doesn't present itself as a single application but more of a collection of broken files - a forgotten digital wilderness to explore. Windows File Explorer literally becomes an exploration. This also means the usual line between the game and desktop is disrupted, because the game inhabits your desktop. This all sounds serious. It is not serious. It is very silly.

Cyberpet Graveyard is also about CD-ROM technology, reflecting 90s tech nostalgia in a similar way to Hypnospace Outlaw (Tholen, Lasch, Nelson & Cochran, 2019) and Subserial Network (Aether Interactive, 2018). I think I'll write something about that in due course. But not today.

On a sadder note... because Cyberpet Graveyard is a folder on the desktop rather than a Game With Title Screen, the PC at Rezzed had the signature look of "game crashed to desktop and there is no developer here to fix it". Many times I went back to Leftfield to take pictures of it in progress and the seat was empty. I was concerned that players were passing on the "broken game" not realising that was its intended state. However, on Saturday, more commonly as the Day Families Come to Rezzed, Cyberpet Graveyard seemed as busy as Dicey Dungeons. So maybe everything is going to be okay.

If you want to check out the silliness, go download it for free.

 

From the blurb accompanying the game on GameJolt:

At some undocumented point in the early 00's there was a critical malfunction in the cyberpet factory. This meltdown led to the miss-creation of several unlikeable and unwanted cyberpets. Nobody knew what to do with them. They never made it past quality assurance, and therefore never made it to CD-ROM.

🚧🚧🚧🚧🚧🚧🚧🚧🚧🚧

Due to the unsettling nature of these virtual companions, they were eventually banned to the cyberpet graveyard. The cleanup crew hired to capture and ban everything did a groundbreaking job, because these cypberpets would never to be loved or loved by again.
It is only until now that digital archeologists have uncovered the remaining files of these strange unwanted creatures.
Thanks to their efforts you can download this forgotten relic.

Interested in other games I've dabbled with? Check out the series index!

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