There are some game websites that have become famous for their wide array of games. Some, like newgrounds.com, are spawning pools of creative content. Some, like kongregate.com, allow content creators new avenues of community involvement. But, there are others like rrrrthats5rs.com that do none of these things.
RRRR That’s 5 R’s itself is not famous, but I am sure that most of you have played or watched someone play their games. Arguably their most famous and simplest game is Don’t Shoot the Puppy, a game about doing absolutely nothing.
Made in 2006, this simple flash game has been viewed over 40 million times, and it has exactly one mechanic: do anything and you shoot the puppy.
With games about defending castles, killing stick figures, launching pebbles at castles, or other various “impossible” games, people had come to expect a certain… chaos in their flash gaming.
When Don’t Shoot the Puppy came out, people were thrown for a loop. It’s hard to describe how difficult the act of doing nothing can be, so I implore you play the game yourself at http://www.rrrrthats5rs.com/games/dont-shoot-the-puppy/. It’s only 11 minutes. Don’t worry I’ll wait. (I won’t wait)
Every single game that followed from RRRR That’s 5 R’s is a similar deconstruction of a gaming convention.
Whether it be the concept of “fairness” in Stacked Odds (a Tetris game where the Tetris God hates you), of questions having answers in How Much? (where you have to decide if the pencil is 3 inches long or “it’s how you use it”) and of skill in general with Make the World a Better Place (Kitten Canon where the Obstacle God loves you).
But here’s the thing I love about the games that RRRR That’s 5 R’s makes: they never tell you the twist. It’s up to you to figure out that you are… doing something in many games. Part of the magic is the discovery of the many simple things.
I could gush and rave about the subtle design choice that is The Road Less Taken, or the sublime beauty in Mixed Memories. But, ironically, in doing so, I would take away from their design. I implore you, at least try all the games. Do it for me, do it for you, do it for the puppy.
However, before you go, there is one area I feel I can talk about, simply because it lacks the subtlety and art of the other games: the proverbs.
Simply put, they take a proverb and make it a game. And, unfortunately, they are really simple.
Proverb 1 is “don’t count your chickens before they hatch” and it is literally that. Don’t click on eggs until a chick pops out. Meh.
They are all similar games, often revolving around puns, like in Proverb 10: a penny saved (from a burning building) is a penny earned (urn’d). Yeah. Meh.
But, here is the real tragedy: the site is dead! Dead I tells yah, dead!
Oh, it’s still there, but there have been no updates for a good 5 years. They haven’t even changed the copyright notice at the bottom of the screen!
The beautiful minds at RRRR That’s 5 R’s have all but abandoned this blossoming well of creativity.
It is in no exaggeration that I declare that RRRR That’s 5 R’s may have been one of the most important websites for Flash gaming. To see it go out with not a bang, nor a whimper, but a sudden and stark silence is disconcerting on a primal level. It’s like seeing “last online 1875 days ago” next to your best online-friend.
When I look back at my gaming history, at which games affected the me that’s me, I look at big hits like Super Smash Bros, Pokemon and even TF2. But, those were the flashy games that affected me on the surface.
Looking deeper, I see games like Don’t Shoot the Puppy, Cheer up the Chatbot and even The Impossible Quiz (made by other people).
Unlike most flash games, these did something completely and uniquely different. They were the ones that took your expectations of how the world should work, and twisted them, turned them and distorted them until you are forced to look at interactivity in general from a whole new angle.