Dim Sum? More Like Git Sum! is a wonderful game about family dynamics, played around a dim sum table. Its passive-aggressive insult workshop is cleverly designed to immerse the players into the shoes of a Cantonese family. While we did find that there is a little bit of preparation involved, it didn't stop us from adding it to one of our honorable mentions, for its thoughtful notes on cultural representation and interesting play.
Laurel Halbany’s The Widows’ Market does not declare itself a “game,” but rather an “interpretation.” In addition to the text itself interpreting ancient Sumerian practices documented on tablets, players are then asked to interpret the freeform procedures themselves from the sparse text provided. We found the situation evocative, feminist, and multicultural at its core. The Committee saw in this work the kind of historical imagination and creative leaps needed to make a tight, engaging game.
We found Caroline Hobbs’ The Clinic to be a timely and informative look at the reality of abortion clinics through an extremely meticulous simulation. Ordinarily, we would say a game like this requires too many materials and has massive overhead in terms of player preparation. Nevertheless, we all learned something with our encounter with this game, and the present-day situation is urgent enough that we think you, too, should maybe learn these things. This game is a great launchpad for those conversations.
Many games over the years have confronted the ugliness that is capitalist society, but few delve into the ongoing impacts of whole industries on the psyche of those performers who work in them. Who Do You Think You Are? by Kat Jones analyzes the career of the Spice Girls through the lens of painful performances and the ambiguous rewards of fame. For all those of us with nostalgia for our 1990s pop groups, the game is a sobering reminder of just how complex bubblegum pop and stardom happen to be.
David Rothfeder's It Was a Beautiful Mistake is a poignant game about a teacher looking back on their career. Each player portrays Alex Park during a different year of their life as a teacher, with the retirement-age Alex left to make meaning out of a lifetime of struggle, joy and sacrifice. The Committee is pleased to honor this game as a solid, nuanced take on an under-explored topic that we think will resonate with many.
In this game by Aleks Samoylov an under-prepared and under-resourced theater troupe must put on an excerpt of beloved classic The Life, Death and Apotheosis of Bastard Jim in order to retain the favor of their patron. Packed with exquisitely written theater-trope characters, this larp creates a play-within-a-play that can optionally be performed in front of an audience. The Life, Death and Apotheosis of Bastard Jim combines theatrical improv and larp in a way that is sure to produce interesting results.
Martin Tegelj's Polka Pillow Production checks off all the boxes for a topic no one writes games about - Slovenian folk dancing and Warsaw Pact era worker's co-ops, deleriously mashed together in a nostalgic game that will have you dancing and yodeling to polka music while you feverishly manufacture socialist bedroom staples. We've never seen anything quite like it, and this short, sweet game had the Committee eager to kick out the accordion jams and sew up some pillowcases for the collective.
Life Lessons takes place across six life drawing lessons, but it isn't a game about drawing. It's a game about the connection between the act of creation and the social milieu one finds oneself in. Through play our characters - and maybe our players - will open up to one another and learn more about themselves and others. Through a series of short, contemplative scenes and simple structured mechanics, Life Lessons offers a surprisingly immersive experience sure to challenge and delight.
In Fork Creek Almanac, Matt Jent and Alex Dodge offer us a beautiful and melancholy game set in a graveyard with a wide range of tombstones in it - two to twenty, to be exact. An elegant game focused on memories lost and regained, Fork Creek Almanac is elegaic and sincere without drifting into maudlin or campy territory. Fork Creek Alamanac is a game that will reward different player counts with different - but equally meaningful - experiences.
Daniel Eison and Sam Zeitlin's game Heroic Measures brilliantly positions a heavy topic - end-of-life decision-making and care - at a genre remove that allows players to approach it this intense subject with both safe detachment and seriousness of purpose. Krondar the Mighty is dying, and all the magic in the world isn't going to save him. It's time to make the hard choices and have the hard conversations about what the greatest barbarian this side of the High Forest would want as his life slowly slips away. The Committee could see this being played to help people appreciate the gravity of end-of-life decisions, and learn how to make them with clarity and compassion.
Can a nation gifted agency build a truly shared future? That's the core question asked by Andrea Morales Coto's game Torch. As a new (and, eventually, not so new) nation experiences everything from trepidation to bloodlust, players gain insight into colonialism and its often ugly aftermath. When the torch goes out, a story ends and a new one begins...
The We-Ness is a game where players take part in becoming a small colony through language. Through experimenting and restricting the "I" when speaking with one another, The We-Ness creates a singular organism with its players. This was such an interesting game on how we speak with one another shapes our culture and identity within that culture. This is a game that will challenge and thrill players as they become a part of a hive.