At PAX this year something followed me home and settled in on my fridge. They have become messages to my partner and descriptions of my cat’s bowel movements smell… they’re from Gubbins and I can’t wait to have them on my phone.
Among the many fantastic PAX Rising booths was one oozing vibes. A retro fridge where these magnets have multiplied, a cosy table with a checkered cover and striking art from the game.
Gubbins is a word game from Studio Folly where you take letters from the deck and create words on the board. But unlike what you might be used to, weird little Gubbins may help or challenge you in this brain teaser.
Speaking at the booth, Jess said to me how they wanted players to feel smart and empowered but not like they were working, instead getting immersed in the game while their brains worked in the background.
“We see people sitting around with a coffee relaxing on a Sunday morning taking a moment for themselves,” she said.
The calm approach is part of the reason the game isn’t time-based. There’s a side to the game that involves chasing high scores but also one that celebrates the silly.
“We’re sort of leaning harder and harder into that though I think the nature of it becoming so colourful and psychedelic adds that flavourful fun as well so it’s not so serious,” Jess said.
The aesthetic started out simple with type and colour before an illustrator came on board and said “let’s give everything legs” which is a message I can get behind. The linework made the style punchy, and their animator brought some humour to it all when these static characters started moving.
“You can play a game where you can focus on getting a high score if you want to but you can play one where you're just trying to make funny words in order to make a particular message to send to your friends or just like having fun with it making swear words or whatever,” Jess said.
These messages take the form of colourful and charming postcards at the end of a game; the one above was created by someone testing it out. They’re the culmination of an irresistibly charming experience that celebrates playing and language. There was a simple joy in watching people swipe around on tablet screens like finger painting as a child.
For me, the game and the booth were an escape from a sometimes-overwhelming event, and of the little I’ve played, my experience has really stuck with me. It leaves me excited for the soft launch later this year and going global in 2023 on iOS and possibly other platforms.
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