Photo by BP Miller on Unsplash

Playing Every Game in the Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality

I Played Every Game in the Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality

A Post Mortem

Jacob ._.'
The Ugly Monster
Published in
21 min readMar 5

“Like with all great adventures, this starts with two confusing forces of circumstance. In this case, one being a pandemic and the other being the purchase of video games for racial equality.”

Two and a half years ago, I wrote that opener after coming up with a silly acronym for this series. Now, ‘like with all great adventures’ this one ends without much pomp or circumstance. Not that I’m complaining, mind you; the end of any journey is rarely one that is put on display and celebrated as a massive achievement. Many things come to an end quietly, sneaking up on you before disappearing into the void from whence it came.

Thing is, it’s what we do with that ending that makes it great, and today I am going to go over just that. I’m going to look back on the 2.5 years of this bundle; the highs and lows, the massive amount of data that I collected for some reason, whether or not I achieved the goal I set out for myself, and where I’ll be taking this format in the future. For some this will be the great overview to end all overviews, for others it will be closure to the ride.

For me, it will be both.

Part 1: Data Collection

While not initially my reason for starting this adventure, I cannot deny that a part of me just wanted to parse the entire bundle from the beginning. It all came to be thanks to a little bit of curiosity with some web-testing functionality that I learned through Selenium, even though I didn’t get the process running until a month or so before the first anniversary bundle.

So yes, I did all of the spreadsheet by hand initially, which I do recall being awful. I never did get it to automatically sort the games from the rest due to the entries not having a consistent upload scheme. It often lead to me not realizing what was a game, but that’s part of the fun.

What I didn’t always let on was the fact that I actually separated my database in two. The one above is a cleaner, more factual iteration that was born due to the fact that I knew people would see it and not want some of the more colourful commentary I added in my own personal version. See, I wanted this to be an overview rather than a series of reviews — you can always find people that have strong opinions about games on the internet after all. I couldn’t avoid adding my own ‘two cents’, but I wanted to keep it much more local. Separating the two databases let me run wild while I kept up the appearances of someone who was ‘just stating the facts’.

Why say all this? Because this is a post mortem, and I’m going to reveal some of the data that I’ve kept to myself in this section for a bit of fun.

Let’s start with the basics: the entire bundle in one picture.


I posted this picture in the previous anniversary as a teaser, so here’s a new picture to give even more context before we dive into what these numbers actually mean.

Each bubble showcases the size of the grouping between pages to give a better ‘indicator’.

Video Games

Video Games obviously came out on top with a whopping 1083 entries, which surprised absolutely no one seeing as is primarily an alternative to Steam for indie designers who want to connect with their players directly. I wish I could say this was always the ‘easiest’ tag to apply to entries of the bundle, but unfortunately I had to set my own arbitrary rules quite early on. These rules included games that required the use of a 3rd party emulator to initially be ruled as ‘software’, such as a few ZX Spectrum and NES games.

At the time, I was not in the mood to jump through another hurdle to play a game, and immediately ruled that all emulated games would be passed over — which made things weird when some included the emulators themselves so I had no excuse. These entries initially showed in the software category, but were getting double dipped in the video games because, well, they are. I rectified this somewhat recently, but left their blog entry alone to not add more work than I already had.

There were also quite a few entries that disappeared that could at least be confirmed to be video games, even if they were unplayable. While tallied for data purposes, they were marked as Unplayable/Not Playable to avoid confusion if anyone became curious about them. They might return in the future, but as of 2023 there are 9 entries total. Of the 9, 2 gave errors that made them unplayable, while 7 flat out ceased to exist as either their pages were removed or the games have been put on hold and their files scrubbed. There is also an extra one that is a permanently online game akin to Club Penguin that requires a request to join, which may hamper your desire to try it out.

Look at all the pretty colours

Genre-wise, I was able to look at the general trends of the games within the bundle. To no one’s surprise — well maybe someone — the predominant archetypes are Puzzle, Adventure, Narrative, and Arcade. If you’ve been around the block, you might also know that these four ‘genres’ have been around since the dawn of video games, and for good reasons. They all are easy to iterate upon, require few mechanics to catch a player’s interest and can be expanded upon quickly within a small scope.

Do note, however, that games do not always have a single genre. Many of them have doubles like ‘Arcade Adventure’ which then makes both terms show up for that single entry.

Puzzle is a massive catch-all of all kinds of different styles, but is also an easy genre to visualize mentally; a game that focuses on the player’s ability to solve problems, and gamifies them. The design may be challenging — creating puzzles is not as easy as some may think — but it is easy to iterate upon once a mechanic is solidified. Plus, puzzle games can easily be crafted for all sorts of mediums and interfaces.

Narrative games are another that fit a similar idea to puzzle games in that the genre is easy to visualize and understand. Games that focus on your ability to read rely heavily on the developer’s writing skills, and while the development can be tricky there are many engines out there nowadays that can streamline the process. The complexity of these games relies more on the scope of their story than any single mechanic, so a short narrative — like the ones I’ve made — can take a few minutes to play whereas some of the visual novels can take hours to finish a single route.

Admittedly, Adventure and Arcade are both words that are much harder to visualize, as they are massive ‘catch-alls’. It would be like discussing the entire genre of science fiction. There are so many kinds that it becomes difficult to really envision anything outside of the most basic concepts. Here, both were used as a baseline, such as ‘Arcade Action’ or ‘Action Adventure’. That’s not necessarily better, but the ideas are there. Arcade games invoke a simplistic gameflow in which a mechanic is utilized quickly in a small environment that may or may not go on forever — think back to the oldest of arcade machine days. Adventure has a similar thought process in which players go on journeys across landscapes with varying mechanics and tones to defeat the bad guy and save the day.

Unlike with the Software, I wasn’t able to quantify the genres down to something streamlined due to the sheer nature of genres — they’re arbitrary terms we use to help people invoke mental images of what we think and feel our game should be. It’s why we keep coming up with new genres. As we expand our ideas and designs, genres get mushed together to create new ones.



On the flip side of video games were all of the entries that couldn’t be played in the digital sense. When it came to tagging, these were abysmal to figure out a strong system that didn’t devolve in to utter nonsense.

Genres are an already fickle matter — as you can see with the video games and my failed attempt to ‘quantify’ that — but at least video games share a medium in which they are interacted with, meaning I only had to focus on the mechanics and context. Here is where everything from physical media to soundtracks resides, making any chance of having an objective genre classification nigh impossible.

Realistically I categorized them as their ‘function’ to keep things as simple as possible. Tabletop games encompassed every kind of game that involved players setting up on a table and playing together in real life, dominated mainly by TTRPGs of all kinds. Card games, journaling games, and even LARPs fell in to this category for ease of understanding, since many of them shared similarities with each other. Sure LARPs didn’t need a table, but they did sometimes involve setting up character sheets and dice, giving them a connection to TTRPGs. This made ‘Tabletop Games’ the second largest category sitting at 452 entries.

Who would’ve thought Tabletop was at the top? Shocker, I know.

Asset Packs were the easiest group to bundle together thanks to their straightforward nature; anything that was packed together for the user to utilize for their own projects. It was the third most populous section of the bundle, but at 104 that wasn’t saying much. The bundle did not really help people who wanted to give away assets, nor did it have the same overlap.

Reading Material was tricky to quantify, thanks to an initially ‘simple’ group expanding to encompass anything related to reading, but was also easy thanks to that exact same reason. Light Novels, Comics, and Zines were scattered throughout the bundle, but there were also textbooks highlighting tools and games history, interview compilations, anthologies of poems and even a written tutorial.

There weren’t enough Game Engines to make this grouping difficult to understand, but I created the section because I wanted to highlight the difference between ‘Assets’ and an ‘Engine’ for those that might get confused, especially since some of the assets included were plugins for game engines.

The last section was the most brutal, as given by my inability to come up with a cohesive name for it: Miscellaneous Software. What does that even mean, when you take a peak at the grouping and its full of OSTs, assistant tools, simulations, and a colouring book? Well, that’s what went through my head as well when I came across these 43 entries. At first, OSTs were not common at all so the idea of putting them in to their own category did not make sense. The rest didn’t fit in to any other category without some serious mental gymnastics, so I caved and put them in a strange group full of silly nonsense.

Now, what’s this about secret data?

One piece of data that I placed in the database was whether or not the games were ‘beatable in an hour’, as inspired by a friend of mine’s constant interest in games that they could play to its entirety within a lunch break. Since a lot of this overview’s origins came from off comments made by those around me, I decided to keep a statistic on these games based on their possible average length. This way I had a statistic for games that I could recommend to likeminded individuals, while also helping those that might want something with a little more crunch.

Link left and link right

For the formal database I kept it simple, a binary YES/NO to avoid complicating matters. For myself, however, I kept a bit more detailed information using my own recorded game time, completion rate, design understandings, and a bit of intuition. I’ll be the first to admit that the binary YES/NO is the closest thing I could get to an objective answer, however, because a person’s playtime within a game greatly varies depending on their own abilities and experiences. With that in mind, however, correlating my own playstyles with the design and mechanics gives a relatively strong estimate on how long a game would take on average.

Which lead me to the chart above, where instead of trying to pin down a specific number I grouped them into categories with ranges. As seen, the number of games that averaged out to being under an hour dominated the bundle with 423 entries. These titles are dominated by — surprise, surprise — puzzle, narrative, and arcade games as these genres can quite easily fit within an hour to get the most out of their mechanics and story.

The trajectory makes sense then, that the longer the games got the fewer of them were included in the bundle. Many indie titles are not made by the largest of teams, making large, lengthy games challenging and financially out of scope. That isn’t to say that there aren’t games in the bundle that aren’t massive, as indicated by the 24 10+ hour titles, but for the ratio it makes sense.

Normally I’d showcase an average of some kind here, but that’s a bit tricky due to the nature of ‘groupings’ of times —from my limited knowledge, ‘adding’ groups of ranges is quite tricky. So I instead took the median of each range, setting <1 to 1 and 10+ to 10, and calculated the average there to get an average game length of ~2.2 hours. While that seems odd given the majority of titles are <1 hour, they are still the minority when compared to the rest of the bundle as a whole. This math does have the issue of taking the median of the ranges, and since the ranges are an estimate in the first place the average can fluctuate between 1.8 and 2.3 depending on some metrics.

You’ll notice, however, that there is a group that does not fit in to any possible binary and has been left out of that hypothetical average: the Infinite Category. I alluded to this grouping in my definition of the database, but these titles don’t necessarily have an ‘ending’ to speak of. These are your roguelikes, your base builders, your free-roam open world adventures, your ‘railshooter’ arcades; titles that don’t have an explicit ‘endgame’ state that you can look at and achieve. Instead they are the titles in which the endgame is what you make of it, either through crafting the greatest looking base, or achieving every unlockable possible for your spaceship. For the sake of the binary I looked at how their mechanics interacted with the design, and whether or not an intended ‘run’ could fit within an hour to make my decision, but for myself I am free to simply label it as it is.

Part 2: Game Discovery

The other major reason I started looking at the bundle was to uncover games that I had never heard of before. I wanted to expand my understanding of more than just game titles and actually play games that I would normally never dream of coming across in the wild. I’ve told this story before, but it was the game Pyre that ‘pushed’ me to buying the bundle, but before that I had never played it. Heck, there is only one game that I had owned and played before, and I wasn’t even aware that it was in the bundle until I reached it: Oxenfree. Including Oxenfree, I was familiar with 8 other titles on a deeper level than just ‘passing’, especially since I helped create the one so that doesn’t really count.

For record keeping they are: Celeste, Arcade Spirits, 2064: Read Only Memories, Nuclear Throne, Pyre, OneShot, and Cook Serve Delicious 2.

Every other title in this bundle was a mystery to me, an enigma that wanted to be explored. I started exploring genres that I rarely dreamed of bothering with, and connecting with fellow developers on all sorts of things. Many of them I played well past the ‘overview stage’, opening them up in my spare time to invest even farther in their mechanics and world. As of this current writing, I still have about 100 of the games installed on my computer, either through the client or directly installed, but I’d like to give some special recognition to the games that I’ve put the most time into in this bundle.

I played it during Christmas, but the client doesn’t know that this wasn’t that long ago…

Taking the number one spot is Odd Realm, a game from back on the first page that I recommended to anyone that loved Dwarf Fortress. Thanks to its updates it is shaping up to be a fantastic addition to the city building simulation genre, and that 27 hours is just hours that were logged in the client. For the record, I played this game before I knew about the client, which adds at least another 20+ hours to it. It is just too easy to sink time into it, especially since the races actually alter the game which is a breath of fresh air.

Nearly breaking the 20 hour mark was Verdant Skies from page 7, a game I wasn’t expecting to enjoy. Harvest Moon wasn’t a massive influence of mine, but something about this game kept me coming back during my down time. Perhaps it was the constant things to do, the diversity of the cast as they trickled in, and all of the fun unlockables. Unfortunately I did ‘finish’ the game so I don’t see myself going back, but maybe one day.

The only other game that I can confidently state broke the 10 hour mark from just ‘external’ playtime is Pyre, but since I played it without the client I cannot post a cool picture. Obviously a large RPG would engross me, especially one that was the catalyst for my investment in the bundle.

I do want to give a special shoutout to two co-op games; Flash Point: Fire Rescue and Joggernauts. Both reached 7–10 hours when they really didn’t ‘need’ to just from the sheer fun they are to play with friends and family alike. Flash Point is a digital board game, streamlining a lot of the intricacies the game has to make it a fantastic time.

Which leads me to the second piece of hidden data that I kept around, and for a very good reason. It is easily the most ‘polarizing’ for an overview series; my personal preferences of the games in the bundle.


After playing each game and writing about it within the blog, I would write down all of the objective information before turning to a column called ‘Recommendation’. Initially it was to be a binary YES/NO, but my feelings couldn’t be kept within that hard guideline for the entire bundle. I didn’t deviate too much from the binary, but there’s a reason why there’s a ‘Mixed’ category up there. It is this column stat that helped me compile my list of ‘best of’ that I did during the overviews, as it helped me recall which games I loved most in a page thanks to database sorting.

Mixed is the only category that needs a bit more explanation, as N/A is relatively self-explanatory. This ‘Mixed’ category is comprised of 18 titles that can be further separated in two; games that were actually bundles, comprising of multiple games so I could not nail down a single emotion, and games so hard to decide that I usually labelled them something absurd such as ‘Yes? No? WTF?’ or just ‘???’.

The latter of the two is the most fascinating, as this feeling of utter confusion began all the way back on page 2 with Dujanah. From there, 6 more titles joined in for various reasons, ranging from an attempted satire on ‘feminazis’ to an entire game about walking. Some of these more absurdist titles I could nail down an emotion for and give a recommendation, but those that sit in Mixed are not so lucky.

I was quite surprised to see the data after it was graphed, because while playing I always felt that I wouldn’t recommend the majority of the games. I knew that going in to the bundle I wasn’t the most varied of players, as I usually opt for genres and experiences I was familiar with.

Yet stats rarely lie, and since I reported my opinions right after playing the game I cannot say that there is even some ‘change of heart’ weeks later. Sure, it’s not by much that the ‘Yes’ clears the rest, but my initial assumptions were something more of a 60/40 in favour of no.

However, the reason for this feeling might have to do with time more than perception.

Link to the left fiddle, which has averages in the line graph on the bars. The right showcases the bubbles/sizes of the entries over time more clearly.

And there it is. Who would’ve thought that perception would alter how data is perceived?

It turns out that I had way more game recommendations earlier on in the bundle, and more consistent ‘mixed’ feelings about others. As I’ve mentioned before, this can be pointed to numerous factors with one of which being that the ‘stars’ of the bundle would be nearest to the front. Other factors include that the bundle helped me to streamline my process and understanding of games, which in turn made for snappier decisions between ‘Yes’ and ‘No’. I started understanding what I did and didn’t like about games much faster, so I didn’t have to mull over possibilities as much.

Finally, this may sound strange, but game fatigue is a thing. It is possible to grow weary of games, especially when you play many titles in a row that all feel similar in structure and design. I kept this in mind and tried my best to eliminate the possibility, but inherent biases and experiences cannot always be eliminated from the process.

Word Cloud dedicated to the ‘Yes’ games and their genres.

While this word cloud has similar weighting in comparison to the ‘all genres’ one above, there is some stark differences; namely, there are 60 fewer words in the cloud. This is to be expected, with the removal of ‘No-Longer-Playable’ and a few others in a similar vein, but it is curious to see what genres I seemed to ignore.

The other interesting thing is the percentage of the genres recommended. Let’s look at the top five genres — Puzzle, Narrative, Adventure, Arcade, and Platformer. Out of the 119 games tagged ‘puzzle’, I recommended 65 of them, or ~64.7%. Not a bad stat, above the recommended average, but the champion belongs to the ~70% recommended for Narrative. While I recommended fewer titles at 114, the general total was 164 (one mixed). I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again; I’m a major sucker for narrative titles.

On the flip side, I recommended 50 platformers out of 99 tagged, making it barely above 50%. Adventures did better at 83 of 139, hovering just shy of 60%. The lowest percentile, unfortunately, belongs to Arcade sitting at 42% with 59 of 139. Platformers I could understand due to my inherent bias against them, but Arcade was much more curious.

My current theory is that Arcade is a relatively vague term that can encompass many ‘styles’ of games, meaning that it is hard to nail down a specific feeling. The games are averaged to be quite short — the majority are <1 hour or ‘infinite’ in length — which means that if I didn’t become engrossed immediately in the mechanic, I wasn’t going to enjoy anything about it.

Part 3: Did I Actually Achieve Anything?

It’s a question I’ve asked myself a few times now, and one that I don’t really have a definite answer for. I achieved the goal of reaching the end, but I was never satisfied with just ‘making it to the end’ — I wanted to create something interesting, to spice up a relatively simple idea. I wanted my friends and family to know what was in the bundle they supported, and to get an idea of what they could find if they became curious.

Ultimately, however, much of it was started because I wanted something different. The pandemic had hit and I was going out even less than normal suddenly, with swirling thoughts about the future and what it meant to be in game development. It wasn’t a great time, and I wanted something to explore to give me a new goal.

Was I expecting it to be a goal that consumed 2 and a half years of my life? Of course not. I don’t think anyone can say they start something and have exact expectations for its length. But I’d be lying if I said I expected to ever reach the end. I figured something would happen along the way that would derail this entire project, causing me to be unable to finish it within any semblance of time. In a way I kind of wanted that to happen, but obviously it didn’t and here we are.

But that’s all dismissing the fact that I now have this massive journaling project and a database of over 1700 entries, along with the knowledge of 1083 video games that I can put toward my own work and projects. I’ve published 615 articles on these games with untold thousands of words within. I gained a freaking publisher to expand the network of the bundle.

While I can’t say that the achievements aligned with what I expected, I cannot say that nothing didn’t come out of it.

Still a beautiful photo 2 years later.

Part 4: The Future

The million dollar question, isn’t it? Where do we go from here.

Truthfully, I’m not really sure — after all, I never really expected to reach here. Having all this data feels like a waste if I cannot use it, but databases don’t always have to have immediate use.

PEGBRJE, however, will come to a close. I did ‘Play Every Game in the Bundle For Racial Justice and Equality’, after all. It makes sense to end on a post-mortem, even if it still feels weird to think that it is over. I could write a blog about the games I recommend for funny categories, but honestly I think it best to just leave the data for people to interpret and do with as they wish.

In the immediate future, I’ll be taking a break. I’m going on vacation with my family for a bit, and hopefully that should iron out any feelings I have on where I want this newfound skillset I’ve created for myself to go.

Don’t mistake this for not having a plan, however. Since the Racial Justice and Equality Bundle was released, many other bundles have been created as a way of showing support to other issues that have occurred throughout the world, from Ukraine to the overturning of Roe v. Wade. This bundle showed just how powerful the industry could be when it came to rallying millions of people to a cause through simple donations. I myself did not get any other bundles outside of the Ukraine one — I was knee deep in the Racial Justice bundle when the others came out and found it easier to donate then just swamp myself more.

However, these other bundles do provide an interesting comparison in what new entries were added that people who supported all of the causes may not realize. Upon my return from vacation I do have a blog (possibly a series of blogs, not sure yet) prepared that would look over some of the other bundles that have been released. I want to use the data I have to compare two bundles and see what new games have been added that were not present in previous bundles; especially those entries that find themselves later in the bundle and rarely get any traction because of it. I don’t know if I’ll play all of the new additions as I did here, for I’m not certain if time will allow it, but I’ll keep an open mind.

I don’t want this to become a weird experiment on seeing who ‘still donates’ because that just becomes reductionist to those that have donated and continue to do so, and those that can and have donated now. These bundles are a testament to our abilities as developers to help bring positivity to a terrible situation, not tear people apart because they decided they couldn’t help out every time. We’ve been able to raise millions for various causes, and we can continue to do so even in the face of our own industry’s shortcomings.

Because we care, and we want to continue caring, even when tragedies keep happening. It’s been showcased with this bundle that I’ve covered, and it will continue to be showcased in the future by everyone who fights and donates to make our world better.

Part 5: Finale

It’s been a pleasure writing these past two and a half years, even if my brain may not always view it as such. I’ve played some truly amazing games, met some great people, and explored things I never would have in the past. It’s going to feel weird to wake up, go about my day, and realize I don’t have to play two games and write about them quickly.

To The Ugly Monster and Oscar, I thank you for editing these monstrosities as some of them grew in length, and for boosting its reach with the publication.

To those that have joined me, be you friends from before, developers curious as to why some random Canadian started tweeting about your game, or onlookers just wanting to know about video games: thank you from the bottom of my heart. It just wouldn’t have been the same without you. Good luck to you all, and hopefully you gained some fun knowledge about indie games. I know I did.

I’ll catch you around.



Jacob ._.'
The Ugly Monster

Just a Game Dev who decided to take on the monumental task of giving an overview of all 59 pages in the bundle for Racial Justice and Equality. We keep going.