Covetous, or how Andrew Brophy made me think long and hard about my approach to life

Covetous. That’s apparently what a video game manifestation of me would look like, according to indie superstar and my good friend Andrew Brophy.

He has this hilarious theory, see, that game developers look like their games, in much the same way dog owners look like their drooling pooches. (It’s something that will be expounded upon eventually in the nascent game development fashion blog Indie Ankles, I’m sure.) Seeing him discuss it with a couple of other game devs on Twitter recently, I butted in to ask what a video game based on me would look like. I always figured I’d be the tangle of words in a work of interactive fiction, or perhaps something wistful, beautiful, and immensely sad in tone, like Dear Esther. (Wishful thinking up in here.)

But apparently I more closely resembled Covetous’ little melty boy-thing. Thanks, Brophy.

Covetous starts benign, just like the sickness it gives form to. What exactly that sickness is seems to differ between its players. The story dispensed between stages seems to suggest the growth of a whole new lifeform, something sentient, and as such many players in the comment section read into this as the boy’s consumption by a parasitic twin. Others see cancer. What I saw was in the same vein, but not quite so physical.

To me, Covetous is a narrative of self-doubt.

It seems a comfort at first. Oh my god, my hair is awful, you think. My friends probably think I’m fat and awkward. This tiny pixel is here to eat away at those tiny pockets of self-doubt you have, to clean you of what makes you unpresentable to the world.

But the pixel grows. It begins to leave holes in its wake, leaving you ridged with scar tissue. Soon it’s large enough to occupy the pit of your belly like a great, grotesque spider, and it begins to reach into your pitiful, defenseless limbs. And then, seemingly suddenly, it grows too big to permit you movement; you lock your doors and hide inside, where the world can’t see what a monstrous, self-pitying, self-feeding wretch you’ve become.

The end is a choice. You can choose to wrench the beast from yourself. But you’ve nurtured the carnivorous little pixel; you fed it and guided it about your body, and now it doesn’t occur to you that you can end its growth. You’re too used to it, to the arrow keys, to the comfort of hurting yourself. You don’t know how to do anything but feed your own self-doubt.

Covetous is terrifying and ugly. I really doubt Andrew meant his flippant answer to my question to be the trigger to a desperate self-evaluation, but now, having played it, I definitely see shades of myself in it. I wonder if I really do look this broken. I wonder if the self-doubt I’ve sought protection in is written right there, plainly, on my face.

And I wonder to myself, as I refresh the browser, what will happen if I try to fight it.


One thought on “Covetous, or how Andrew Brophy made me think long and hard about my approach to life

  1. I will suggest that you don’t fight it, you let it go. Lately when I have thoughts I don’t like, I just say to myself “enough of that” and move on to something else. If I spend time with it, I feed it. And if I identify the thought as myself, as opposed to something that arises and which I can dismiss, then it becomes me, as I twine myself around it.

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