The trailer above for Text and Drive from Fried Yeti dropped today, and I’m more than a little excited for it. The game takes place partly on your computer, having you drive around a city while trying to obey traffic laws and not run into something. Simple enough, yeah, but it throws your cell phone into the mix.
You’ll be prompted to type specific phrases into your phone within a certain time limit. If you crash into something, you’ll fail, but it’s not clear if the same applies to not sending a message in time or correctly.
As goofy as this game’s presentation is, it touches on something pretty important to me. Texting and driving is an awful damn thing, and it puts yourself and everyone around you on the road in danger. I can’t count the number of times I was almost hit on my motorcycle by someone messing around on their phone while driving, and I’ve had friends that have been unlucky enough to actually get hit.
So for me, this goofy little game stands as a great way to tackle the issue of texting and driving and get it out in the faces of a bunch of people, which is awesome, and I’m super excited for that!
But, for reasons both because-of-the-game and not-because-of-the-game, I don’t think that message is gonna come across well, if at all, to the masses.
The fact is, we live in an era of goofy and over-acted let’s plays. It’s a very feal fact that things like Goat Simulator take up everyone’s attention like a flash in the pan and then fade away. There’s a type of game you’ll see around that are designed to be entertaining to watch and totally goody and, hey, that’s totally fine! I’m not here to shit on games like that- I enjoyed Goat Simulator for a little bit, I see the appeal, and I get why people would design games for mass appeal like that.
But it’s because of that style of games’ very existence that I think Text and Drive is going to come and go without any kind of real awareness.
If Text and Drive does manage to get any attention, my gut tells me it’s going to be flash-in-the-pan style, with people just seeing the goofy driving & challenge of the game and getting kicks out of their favorite streamer having ~wHaCkY cOlLiSiOnS~ all over the place as they struggle to type accurate messages fast enough without crashing into something.
So, on a I’m-blaming-society style side of things, I’m blaming the “genres” of internet content for tuning people to see things like this as super surface-level.
Then there are some things about the game itself that are concerning to me and, mainly, they’re all just missed opportunities (that could totally be un-missed).
Watching the trailer, you can see cars popping in and out a couple of times, and that shit just ain’t fair. Basic game design there. Odds are the cars we see pop in are tied to the light turning red, but I digress.
There’s no rear-view mirror and your side-mirror doesn’t work. There are no pedestrians and your driving itself doesn’t seem to have a time limit or target destination.
Small things, sure, but all things that makes this project less fleshed-out than it could be, which then leads further to the educational aspect that Text and Drive could have falling flatter than a crepe.
The dangers of texting and driving are very real, and the potentials for educational games to portray those dangers and get that point across, or hell to just get people sincerely thinking about it, are just as real.
I hope I’m wrong, and that this game gets at least a few people to consider these things and, maybe, change their driving habits. We’re already all driving big-ass death machines, let’s maybe not be distracted while doing it?
If you’re interested in learning more about the dang dangers of distracted driving, check out the DDFN and, I dunno, use some common sense while you’re on the road.
Stay safe <3