RECOMMENDED GAME: “Pipe Trouble”

Spoiler Alert: I don’t believe in Good Guys and Bad Guys, and don’t really believe in the narrative necessity of antagonists and protagonists or the centrality of Conflict. Stories, to me, are about Problems, and the most interesting Problems are the ones that arise when everyone thinks they are basically the Good Guy Doing the Right Thing. Subsequently, most video games bore or frustrate me. That said, I’m loving Pipe Trouble, the newest new-media thingy from affable pop-culture gadfly Jim Munroe.

I dig games that 1) interestingly model real-world conundrums (however abstractly) and 2) force the player to balance competing interests in a Universe where there is never (or rarely) a zero-loss win-win. Add in adorable high-rez 8-bit graphics, interestingly quasi-narrative faux CBC radio clips between scenes, and reasonably ramping difficulty (I’m crappy at most traditional video games, so you kinda gotta take it easy on me), and this is just a perfect-fit game for dave-o.
Added bonus: Playing this game with my 6-year-old catalyzed a great conversation about 1) how to balance the stress of being challenged with the enjoyment of playing (levels get steadily harder and faster, which mega wigs both me and my kid out), 2) balancing economic development and environmental conservation in energy policy, and 3) how competing interests aren’t generally ones of “good guys” vs. “bad guys,” but situations where various groups are disagreeing because they have different visions of what constitutes the Best of All Possible Worlds, and their actions–no matter how destructive–come out of a good-faith effort to Do the Right Thing.
You can play a trial version online for free before buying–but I’m telling you, this is worth the price of a decent cup of coffee. Go get it for iPad or Android thingy.