"What if you had to watch a sexy videogame character also buy bras, cry softly when she can't find one that fits, and go in for mammograms?" tweeted video game journalist Jenn Frank in July.
Video games are notorious for featuring characters with improbable breasts, and in most cases, those breasts — in all their considerable girth — are there to look sexy. But there's more to breasts than just looking good. Frank's funny, sarcastic and thought-provoking tweet inspired a number of indie-game developers to pose themselves a design challenge: Can you make a game about breasts that goes beyond the sexy heroine cliché?
The entrants ranged from adventure games to visual novels to a few really out-there pieces that are probably best described as "digital art."
All of these games were made with free and easy-to-use game-design tools, such as Unity and Ren'Py. Aside from putting a twist on the mammary status quo, these games also show how easy it is to make and share small, highly personal games.
In this game (developed in the Unity game engine), players take the role of a woman who must navigate through a crowded street. Oh, and occasionally, lasers shoot out of her breasts. While you play "Cold Wave," a narrator recounts stories from her childhood and teenage years about her developing breasts, and how they changed the way others perceived her and how she perceived herself.
"Grand Titons" (download) is a two-dimensional platformer in which players must escape from a prison deep within a mountain. The escape is also a metaphor for the transsexual experience, as the playable character's body (and breasts) change as the game progresses. It was created in the free GameMaker: Studio game design program and can be downloaded from the BoobJam website.
By far the subtlest of the BoobJam games — though not too subtle — "Jiggle Physics" (link) consists of a pixelly bowl full of Jell-O. Players can click and drag the Jell-O to make it jiggle. Meanwhile, a jumble of letters on the screen's background spell out messages such as, "They belong to no one else" and "You're allowed to like them."
Few things are as unsexy as relieving one's bowels. In "The Kingdom of Sh*tland," a riff on the iconic character Princess Peach from the "Mario" video games by Nintendo, players feed a naked blond princess and then use the force of her bowel movements to power her jumps.
In just a few lines of text, the short but beautiful text-based game "A Tale of Breasts and Pain" (link) captures the experience of a person whose mother has breast cancer. Do you press her to confide in you, or do you let her go? And how will you answer the question asked by your best friend?
More of a visual installation than a game, "Gaze" is little more than a pair of disembodied, pixelly breasts. The game's description dares you to engage in a "staring contest" with the breasts, though, of course, there's no way to win that game other than closing the browser.