PLAYGROUND ANTICS: SISSYFIGHT TO RELAUNCH ON VENUS PATROL & FODDY-CURATED GAMES SITE


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5.1.2013

Brandon Boyer

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OK, it’s time to unbury this lede a bit: as you may have seen, New York designers Eric Zimmerman, Naomi Clark, and Ranjit Bhatnagar have just launched a Kickstarter that will revive cult-legend online multiplayer game Sissyfight 2000 — nearly a decade after it was last playable — and they’ll be doing so on a new home for online games currently being built by QWOP creator Bennett Foddy & myself.

Probably you will have had to be of a certain age & persuasion to remember the original Sissyfight — it was first launched in 2000 as part of the long-defunct web-zine Word.com, which at the time was a massive influence on me as a college kid who, even then, wanted to smash together the world of comics, words and interactive art & games in a way that it’d take me another 15 years to get right. (For more on that, I highly recommend spending your afternoon traversing this visual history of Word, and the Wayback Machine’s admittedly super-broken but still relatively complete archives, which you can jump forward in time a bit to see more issues of. It was the actual best website of the late 90s.)

Sissyfight itself was a cornerstone of what made Word.com amazing, and — apart from the Kickstarter page itselfZimmerman, Wikipedia, and this ancient Salon article will best get you back up to speed on the game itself. Or, even more briefly, here’s how the precis goes: it’s a real-time online playground game for 3-6 players, each trying to lower the self-esteem of their pig-tailed opponents through a series of carefully considered rounds of teasing, scratching & tattling, which presents a surprising amount of team-up tactics to reduce your rivals to ruins.

An online press preview last week was the first time I’d played the game since my now quite hazy college days, and I was delighted to find it was as compelling & engaging as I’d remembered, which is just part of the reason I’m proud to be able to have a hand in its re-birth.

If you visit the Kickstarter page, you’ll find that I’m doing that not only with some direct support of the campaign itself — with a very limited number of some of my own remaining supply of Venus Patrol Kickstarter goods, including some Scott C prints & #sworcery 7″s — but by providing the web-home where you’ll be able to play the game on its re-release.

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On that: we’re still being somewhat tight-lipped about What This New Online Games Site Will Entail, but Foddy & I — with the help of the super amazing developer Mark Olson — have been quietly building up what we hope you’ll regard as a beautiful, vibrant place to both discover new games and, crucially, learn more about the actual people who develop them.

We’ll explain what this all entails very soon (the site is looking great, but we’ve still got a bit of sweeping up to do before we open the doors) — in the meantime, all of us hope you’ll join us on the first step and support Team Sissyfight in bringing back a long-lost classic.


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