XBox Live Indie Game Lets You be Homeless

VentureBeat has a great profile on Homeless, an Xbox Live indie game that puts you into the well-worn shoes of a homeless person. The basic premise of the game is that you are a homeless guy who must beg for quarters from passers by, trying to get enough money together to get through another day. The gameplay is simple enough and there doesn't seem to be an end goal beyond begging for change, but it's an interesting topic to cover – particularly during the holiday season.

The game was developed by Silver Dollar Games’ Jon Flook, who live in Toronto, a city with a large contingent of homeless people. But Flook's inspiration is more personal than that. He tells VentureBeat that he lives next to a bridge that is a popular haunt of a homeless couple in the summer. Watching them work, he says that he finds it amazing how many people won't give them the time of day – let alone some money.

"How many times have I passed a homeless person and said 'sorry' when they ask me for money?," Flook asked. "Sorry? What does that even mean to them? Does it mean, I’m sorry I’m too cheap to spare a dollar? Does it mean, I’m sorry that you’re too lazy to get a job? Of course not, but when everyone ignores the problem it comes off that way."

Flook's initial plans were much grander than what he created in Homeless, but budgets being tight as an indie game developer, he had to limit what the game could contain: "we had to cut out the seasons, weather effects, multiple locations, just about anything that would bring the costs up," he said. He had also planned on using a real homeless person and their surroundings in the story, but had to abandon that lofty goal too. "It’s just not practical when you can barely make rent yourself." Instead the script and voice work were put together by Flook and a friend.

Homeless still cost over $1000 to make, and selling the game at 80 MS Points ($1) a pop on XBLIG, Flook knows he'll never make a profit – let alone break even. “In spite of the fact that we lose money on most of our projects we’ll continue to make games like this. They will probably be few and far between because we simply can’t afford to do it more often.”

At the end of the day, Homeless is about art and making a statement, rather than making money.

"..maybe games don’t have to be all about unlocking, progressing, attacking or defending. Maybe video games can be all that and also a medium for telling a story or showing art. There have been many articles on whether video games can be considered art. Well our games, Fatal Seduction, Game 35: The Experiment, Sins of the Flesh and Office Affairs are our way of experimenting with video games as an art form. Whether a game gets noticed or not, I think XBLIG is a great place to try new ideas."

You can learn more about the game on Xbox Live Marketplace. A trial is also available.

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  1. 0
    hellfire7885 says:

    I know they certainly didn't in my high school. I think a lot of schools are too scared of a lawsuit as the result of accidental injury to offer it anymore.

    If my school offered if I'd have been able to diagnose when our van was having issues. Turns out we somehow fucked up the drive shaft.

  2. 0
    Neo_DrKefka says:

    Why we currently don't have woodsman just shows why these people are homeless. In this country we have laws such as Adverse possession to where if a Property is vacant you can move in and claim it as your own. Hell a man in Texas did just that for a Mansion!

    But the basic skills to live life sadly most men do not have anymore in this country. The art of fishing, hunting, crafting and surviving now falls on deaf ears. We go to college get into debt we will never be able to pay live with our parents into our 30s when we are in our middle age.

    But if your homeless why do you sleep in the streets and beg for food? When there is a wilderness out their to hunt game and live on the land. With the way our country is heading anyways I hope more people start taking survival classes.

    Instead of High Schools which now instead of teaching you skills like I don't know balancing a check book, shop, home mech now they teach you college prep which means teaching you the test so you can pass a test for college! What are you learning exactly? How to test better! Any life skills learned? None but I am sure the grand majority of people going to college will get a full time job with benefits making over 80K a year!!!!

    I don't have the required skills to survive I have been spoilied my entire life. I try as much as possible to get my children to learn things all men should learn. How to work with a car, how to fix household items.

    But any ways that old proverb speaks well of the issues we have as a society today and its not just homeless people it is everyone.

    "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime"

    This could be about washing clothes, changing a tire, and building anything we as a society as a generation lack so much experience once the baby boomers leave we won't have anything or know how to do anything for our selves.

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