One word that gets thrown around a lot these days is “aesthetic”. And really, it’s an important word to signify appreciating the look of a certain era or mood without necessarily glorifying the other things about it. The best example of this is the American 50’s aesthetic; with its malt shops, leather jackets, and sock hops. It’s a cornucopia of neat stylistic things, but it comes with some extremely poor politics and social standards. I, myself, am a fan of this aesthetic (as well as dunking the prejudices that happened during this era in the trash), which is why I’m excited to bring you my web crush today, even if I may have missed the boat in some respects.
Although the video game season is getting to their big holiday rush–I know I’m not the only one waiting for Fallout 4–it’s still important to not get swept away entirely by these big-name titles. Sketchy Panda Games’s Aberford has actually been swimming in and out of my newsfeed for a while now, and with good reason. While the zombie genre is, admittedly, one that I’m done and over with, somehow moving these zombies from a post-apocalyptic setting to 50’s America changes things enough for me to be interested. But what’s got me most into this game are its protagonists.
Aberford took a decisive stance right off the bat and made all of its playable characters ladies. The important things about this is, though, that these aren’t the typical protagonists a gamer would really look for. While a certain subset of gamers would recoil at the thought of playing as a woman, I think many more would, perhaps, find it a little odd to be playing as housewives, since the industry usually dictates that if one does play as a lady character, then she’s the best at what she does and almost hyper competent within canon. This in and of itself isn’t a bad thing, but it doesn’t offer much variety when developers continue to push only this one idea. Aberford’s heroines are more normalized; we know people like these characters. They overcome a situation they’re put in using their very (or… relatively) normal life skills. And each of the characters are varied, from nurse Betty to scientist Peggy: they all have a different way of approaching this sudden outbreak of zombies. Additionally, every character looks different. I cannot stress how important it is to see other, non-stereotypically attractive body types in this game, as well as seeing a woman of color holding as much importance as anyone else in the game.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t available to advertise the Kickstarter while it was going on, and Aberford, even more unfortunately, did not meet its fundraising goal. However, Sketchy Panda Games are not giving up on this title! They seem devoted to making Aberford a reality eventually, even though without that Kickstarter money, things will be somewhat slower, obviously. Utilizing this time to tighten up the game mechanics and work on their game engine can only lead to a more polished finished product, one that will really present the product that they, and fans of Aberford, want. Although I’m uncertain if they’re trying another fundraising effort (though that seems to be in the cards), I encourage you, readers, to support them however you can. If this game sounds like something you’re interested in, and I hope it is, make sure to check out their Tumblr here or their website here.