What a Game! – Drew Paulson

Games have been an important part of human history. From ancient times to our times, games have evolved to reflect the values, culture and lives of the people who created and played games. For me, games have been a way to learn, explore and create things in a way I was not able to with other forms of media. Because of this, I decided to ask other students about the games that have been impactful in their lives as a way of encouraging others to engage with this media.

Sophomore Drew Paulson.
Photo by Zhixuan Lyu.

“I like a lot of games, but this one is just so different,” sophomore Drew Paulson said. “You don’t really control a character, which is the interesting part. You interact with the world through this character known as Niko.” He continued, “They are the messiah and you are their G-d. Together, you are going to save the world.” 

This is the story behind the game “OneShot,” which Paulson thinks is one of the greats in the world of gaming. This indie, adventure, puzzle, single-player game, developed by Little Cat Feet and published by Degica, took the world by storm in 2014 and made Paulson think deeply about the gaming industry.

Paulson is majoring in environmental studies and is a member of the Sustainable Lawrence University Gardens (SLUG) and of the Lawrence University Gaming Club. He has been a long-time player of all sorts of games, but “OneShot”is the one he wanted to talk about the most.

“‘OneShot’” has a really interesting take on the player,” Paulson said. “Essentially, your computer knows you are playing so you have to go through your computer files and find these codes that the game generates and then take them and paste them into the game files.” This computer-wide interaction has something many in the indie gaming industry have tried out in their games. Another more popular game that features this is “Undertale,” an indie, single-player, role-playing game, but it does so to a lesser extent than “OneShot.” 

“The game changes your background, it makes puzzles out of files on your desktop,” Paulson said. “It does all of these different wacky things that blew my mind away when I first played it.” He continued, “It makes you question, ‘What is a game?’ It asks how you interact with it like one could ask of interacting with a piece of art. I think these questions should be talked about more in the gaming community and ‘OneShot’ does a really good job about going through them.” 

Paulson hopes more games start pushing these kinds of boundaries. He believes this can draw a more critical side to gaming that some games may not, such as the “Solitaire” app on your smartphone.

Paulson compared “OneShot” to “The Stanley Parable,” an interactive story single-player game developed by Galactic Cafe. “That’s a game where there is a narrator and then you, Stanley,” he said. “You are at odds with the narrator the whole game. This is similar to ‘OneShot’ where there is ‘the Entity’ which interacts with you through your computer. It has goals that are different from your goals and tries to slow down your progress by messing with your computer.”

Paulson recommends “OneShot” to all, continuously saying, “I do not want to spoil this in case anyone wants to play for themselves.” He also talked about how he got hooked into the game: “Right near the beginning, just a few minutes in, you solve your first puzzle in the game,” he said. “Then, you interact with a computer in the game where the last message on it was, ‘You only have one shot,’ and then your computer name. Then it pops up as an error message on your computer.” He continued, “That is when I knew this was going to be a great game. I mean, you didn’t even put your name into the game and all of a sudden you are getting called out with an error pop up. It really messes with you but it is fantastic.” 

“OneShot” is currently available on Steam for $9.99.