Think you know the pain of a deadline?

I’m sitting here fist-pumping and whooping my joy (quietly - I’m the only one of the household awake). Why the joy? A brilliant creative writing project is getting the praise it’s due. The Coop Times is not mine. So, why do I care? Read on. If you’ve ever known the pain of a deadline – you will care too.

Reasons to be excited

I’m so excited because former texture intern Adam Carr has just launched publicly a little something called The Coop Times. I’m excited for these important reasons:

  1. I can finally talk about the game I had so much fun playing a few weeks ago at the LinebreakCollective launch

  2. Writers from the Washington Post and Kill Screen Daily have played and praised it.

  3. This came out of the Illawarra.

And a fourth reason: I told him so.*

The Coop Times

The Coop Times is not for the fainthearted: it’s an accurate feeling of the pressure you feel when a deadline is approaching or, as the game itself puts it:

“[G]ood lord the deadlines are always pressing down. Always. They press and they press and just when you get to feel like you’re gonna die if they squeeze you any tighter, they press some more. You got no choice but to pull through on some lousy last second article on who wore what to which race, ‘cause that’s livin’. Hell, that’s probably why they CALL us the press! Haha.”

If you think that sounds like a 1950s newspaper hack from some kind of nourish pulp fiction, you’re right: you are said newspaper hack, a character hunched in an office with a desk, a typewriter, and a pot plant for company. Even in the classic 2D graphics, he has the look of a guy you just know drinks too much Scotch and smokes too many unfiltered Camels. (In keeping with 1950s newsroom sexism, if you’re a female player you are still this character.)

It’s no wonder Adam can find the language for this kind of deadline pressure: he also runs indie games partnership 2 Hit Studio with his brother Matt Carr (just between you and me, also no stranger to a flash of creative-brain brilliance here or there). Between them they have put in countless hours on game design, artwork, stories and coding to keep pushing out game phases to an enthusiastic group of fans that’s growing in number with each new release or indie games circuit appearance. This is on top of day jobs.

How to play?

Simple: follow the story prompt on the screen until the descending deadline bar cuts you off. Journalists and contracted writers will recognise the particular breed of pressure this causes. Then you get feedback from the editor. Journalists and contracted writers will recognise the particular breed of pressure this causes.

But I promise it’s fun – and not just because we writers enjoy a bit of masochism. As long as you hit your “fact” targets you can write nonsense. I can vouch for its being an excellent party game, too, as you’re crowded around laughing at each other’s substandard performance and tragic typos. (There’s a particularly cruel quirk to the 1950s “typewriter” you’re working on … you’ll work it out.)

Play it. Share it with your journo and writer friends.

*Faith is a beautiful thing

When I took Adam on as an intern in the second half of 2012 (a paid internship, mainly in editing practice and digital publishing research), I warned him that I believed in him, and that he had more to offer the publishing industry than many graduates of a creative writing degree. As we keep talking and meeting since his internship ended, and I see his agility and flexibility in the face of the digital writing, coding and gaming conundrums I throw at him (aka “projects”), I keep reminding him that he has something really valuable to offer the world by just being more of what he is and making more of what he does. Maybe, with this success, he’s finally starting to believe me.