Finally, a video game about the Ever Given
A newly revealed PC game called “Whatever” will give players a rough approximation of what it’s like to steer a container ship through a tight canal, a half year after its inspiration, the Ever Given, got unstuck from the Suez.
Why it matters: For all the thousands of video games that are made each year, it’s rare that one is based, however loosely, on the news.
- Any good game like that takes time, because games, like large container ships, are difficult to steer to completion.
- For context: a blockbuster 2011 PlayStation game inspired by 2005’s Hurricane Katrina felt unusually timely.
- And when a major game released this April referred to a “redneck mob storming D.C.,” its creators said that could only be a coincidence, given production timelines.
The details: “Whatever” is a small indie game. It’s coming from 36-year-old Bangkok-based amateur game developer Napas “Jet” Torteeka, who told Axios over Discord that he last made a game 15 years ago.
- In March, he was tinkering with some game development tools while looking for an idea, when he opened up Facebook and saw the news about the Ever Given.
- “I just wondered: How could that be possible!?” he said. “What were the captain and the crew doing to get it stuck that way?”
- He got to work making a prototype of a game in which you steer a ship through narrow, winding passages.
Gaming projects about the Ever Given have been infrequent so far.
- In late March, a player modified “Microsoft Flight Simulator” so users could fly over the stuck ship.
- In the spring, the developer of a game called “Panama Canal Simulator” swiftly released a variation called “Suez Canal Simulator” and in July added the Ever Given to it for players to pilot.
The big picture: The slowness of game development is one obstacle limiting the creation of games tied to the news. The will to “go there,” especially with politically fraught topics, is a factor too.
- For decades, the industry turned out big-budget, flag-waving war games largely about World War II before finally — and only briefly —focusing any on the more fraught Vietnam War.
- Even if developers are ready, platform holders can be restrictive, as one indie creator found in 2014 when Apple initially blocked his pro-Palestinian game.
What’s next: Torteeka is releasing an “early access” version of “Whatever” in late September.
- He hopes players will find his game revelatory. It is cartoonish but designed to simulate the feeling of steering a heavy object while fighting inertia.
- “When I first played my prototype,” he said, “I knew how amazing every cargo ship captain is.”