The American Dream is a VR game about guns, but not killing – PAX Aus 2016

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VR games are everywhere at PAX Aus this year. Now that the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Playstation VR are all out and in people’s homes, every indie developer and their dogs are keen to show off what they have in store for these shiny new toys.

But out of all the VR games on display on the PAX Rising indie floor, The American Dream by Melbourne-based studio Samurai Punk immediately grabbed my attention, primarily because it involved playing as a pistol wielding baby being fed by its mother via the tip of a gun.

The idea is that you play through the mundane everyday activities of the average person, from infancy to a working adult, but using guns to solve all your problems. Players sit in a little cart that wheels them from scenario to scenario, all the while guided by Buddy Washington, a stuffed dog enthusiastically giving you instructions and Bioshock-like propaganda from a mounted speaker in his mouth.

In my brief demonstration, I called for my mother’s attention by firing a couple of rounds into my bedroom door. Later I performed my duties at the bagel factory by shooting holes through the dough, and the developers have said other activities in the full release will involve driving, fixing your car, general housework and even cleaning someone’s teeth.

While it’s pretty easy to assume The American Dream is a direct response to the prevalence of gun violence and the gun-loving culture of the US, Samurai Punk co-founder Nicholas McDonnell told me the connection was just a device used in order to explore the relationship video games have with guns. That relationship being where a large portion of popular video games are based around gun violence of some nature.

“America is a good lense to explore through given the kinds of problems they have at the moment,” he says, “but with [The American Dream] we want to let players use guns to do absolutely everything aside from what you normally do with them in video games.”

The PAX demo ran on an Oculus Rift and utilised the Oculus Touch motion controllers, which hit the market later this December. The Touch controllers provided some excellent tracking, making little quirks like reloading your pistols mid air and sliding back to chamber to check your ammo all the more immersive.

american-dream-guns-buddy

What a good boy.

The section I played yesterday, being fed as a baby and then flashing forward to shooting holes in bagels, is just a small part of what McDonnell describes as a two-three hour linear experience. For those of you who are immediately turned off when you hear the word “linear” in a games’s description, McDonnell also mentioned plans to add an arcade shooting mode for replayability.

The American Dream is due to release simultaneously for Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Playstation VR sometime in mid 2017.

Live the OTHER American Dream and follow Tom on Twitter @tomdheath. Don’t forget to follow LoadScreen on Twitter, @load_screen, and like us on Facebook.

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