While perusing a certain neon green and magenta colored gaming news aggregator and all out advertising whore of a site, I stumbled on a story about a supposed “game” by the name of SPENT. The creator of said “game” claims that SPENT is a text based game where the challenge set forth of making it through the month with very limited income and the odds against you will teach people about what it’s like to be homeless and/or at poverty level. But after spending a decent amount of time with SPENT, enough to hit a nonsensical scenario that would make Myst blush, I have concluded that Spent is in fact not a game at all but a rather illogical and arbitrary choose your own adventure book housed in flash with enough minor interactivity to attempt to fool many into thinking that it is anything more than that.
Now for some pretext to a great amount of my ire at SPENT, I would like to just lay this out there, I grew up at poverty level. I know what it’s like to live in a household where a large portion of the situations that arise in SPENT had to be tackled on a day to day basis, except on a much more credible and less arbitrary scale. SPENT is all about black and white concepts and because I know the reality of the situation all too well to know that usually there are usually more than 2 or three solutions when making such hard decisions, it made many of the situations in SPENT make even less sense than they probably would to someone who has not lived through them.
I am almost certain that the creator of the program doesn’t have a clear concept of what it’s like the be poverty level poor and also doesn’t have even the slightest common sense when having to sit down and create the scenarios for a game like this. I would sooner believe that turtles can walk and mushrooms can make a Brooklyn plumber grow taller than some of the bullshit contained in SPENT.
The “play” of SPENT, and the primary reason why I can’t really consider it a game, and instead merely a choose your own adventure book, is picking between one extreme decision or another with the occasional option to spam your facebook wall with fake requests for money or other help in a situation that could otherwise be completely done on your own. There is never a third choice, and often just the very act of making any choice is detrimental. SPENT has it’s own set of invisible logic and constantly makes up new rules that it plays very close to it’s heart and only reveals new information as it is needed, much in a very deus ex machina kind of way.