One man's quest to find 1000 of the most obscure PC games ever made

And you can play over 900 of the digital artifacts right now.

A bug-eyed dog on a raft, pogo-sticking frogs, a rapping cat—no, they’re not the ramblings of my sleepy dad, four beers deep—they’re videogames. And you can play over 900 of the soon-to-be 1000 (the list is wrapping up soon) arranged in a neat scrolling order right now, for free, and all thanks to one truly passionate person. 

Steve is better known by his Twitter username @moshboy. He’s a full time Australian based in Melbourne with a big heart and a kind Twitter feed, constantly listing off reasons why we we need weirder games and better ways to surface them. He’s taken that duty upon himself, most notably in The Pirate Bay Bundle, a free collection of small games promoted in collaboration with the former bittorrent giant.

His latest curation project is a little bit bigger, a collection of 1000 games, gathered in a single Twitter thread. It might seem a shoddy medium for putting so many works in the spotlight, but a simple retweet can immediately share the threat with thousands of new people. The barrier to entry, besides having a Twitter account (which is a heavy burden, trust me), is almost nonexistent. 

Moshboy took the time out of treasure hunting to answer some questions via email about his process, purpose, and gave a few recommendations for people to get started with. If you’re looking to dive in on your own, follow the thread below.

PC Gamer: How did you get so involved with curating games? Any previous projects you’d like to mention?

Moshboy: I've been playing videogames essentially my entire life (beginning around the age of four), however my parents didn't allow me to actually own any consoles and the first computer I owned was an Amiga in my early teens. Before this, I relied on friends' owning Segas, Super Nintendos and Commodore 64s.

I originally became involved in curating videogames through the abandonware scene. This was maybe twelve or thirteen years ago. I wrote a lot of terrible reviews for this abandonware site (it was so long ago I can't even remember what it was called). Through the abandonware scene, I discovered this wonderful website called Home of the Underdogs, which had a mixture of abandonware and freeware. This is where my trajectory was altered and I became curious about freeware games.

There was some stuff in between, but from there I launched this YouTube series called Underrated Indie Games, a Tumblr blog called Quote Unquote, an interview series called The Last and Final Word, another Tumblr blog called Oddities, and compiled and released a bundle called The Pirate Bay Bundle and each seemed to garner me a little more attention.

Why put this massive collection together? 

Originally, its sole purpose was to prove to myself that I could find 1,000 individual game makers, which in turn would help me with my intended sequel to The Pirate Bay Bundle (I consider it to be a spiritual sequel, even though I haven't given up on the actual sequel). The deeper into it I got and the more support it received, it greased the cogs in [my] head and I started asking myself what else I could achieve with it.

I figured at the very least, it could have a positive effect on breaking down barriers in regards to showing folks that people from all walks of life are making tiny videogames and that the barrier of entry is constantly lowering. Showcasing diversity was a high priority here.

As with all of my work, I wanted it to highlight the sheer amount of videogames that slip by unnoticed and in turn, I was hoping that it might inspire some other people to become videogame curators, because we need more, many more. It's important to note that there are other videogame curators doing similar, equally important work.

What were your goals when you decided to pursue finding 1000 relatively undiscovered games?

Personally, I just enjoy challenging myself, which means searching out the most obscure freeware games I can find. The games I hunt to curate are usually games that have been spotlighted in as few places as possible. A few of the games were pulled from the Wayback Machine due to broken download links.
This is going to sound a little odd, but I enjoy the hunt equally to playing the games, because this is where the challenge lies. I am essentially chasing the ghosts of my childhood.

Any favorites?

I'm going to refrain from singling out anyone, simply because I want people to browse through the thread and make their own discoveries, as opposed to me pointing out some people and then they hog all the attention. There is so much beauty in this thread and it only touches the tip of the iceberg in regards to what is actually out there, waiting to be discovered.

Fair enough! Let’s at least get a good cross section of games from the list people can turn to for a quick sample: Which games....

Made you cry?

Barely Afloat

I've never actually cried because of a videogame, but this game definitely made a lump well up in my throat. It packs a bit of a punch.

Made you laugh?

Shapeshift Serena

There were a whole bunch of games that made me laugh. This one in particular was cute, and the animations and small storyline arcs were very amusing.

Made you angry?

Homeful

It made me angry because there are so many homeless people out there.

Made you sick?

Drink

It reminded me of the frustration and inevitability that can come when you have an addiction that you can't manage to quit

Made you feel something you’ve never felt before?

A Night Forever

There were a number of games in the thread that evoked feelings that I can't quite articulate, and this was one of them.

When are you hoping to finish the list?

Soon I hope. I don't get a whole lot of spare time to work on it and I'm exhausted. I thought there was a glimmer of hope that I might finish it in under a year (from its start date) but at this stage that looks unlikely. Thankfully, I didn't set myself a time frame when I began, so I'm not feeling too much pressure.

What were the biggest challenges in finding games? What can the industry—developers, writers, and players—do for these creators?

The biggest challenges I faced were broken download links and an increasing incompatibility between browsers and browser games. The first was dealt with by either politely asking the creator if they still had said game and whether they were willing to put it back online or visiting the Wayback Machine and trying my luck there. The second was eventually dealt with by downloading an old version of Firefox.

I wish browsers would be more browser game friendly, but obviously there are security issues at play that I have little understanding of.

I'd love to suggest including a freeware game or two with major release AAA games ,but realistically I know this won't happen and even if it did, it would probably be the less experimental stuff. Some years ago, I suggested including the option of downloading a freeware game with each Humble Bundle. I noticed they were doing it at one stage, but I think it dropped off.

It would be lovely if more big videogame news sites had journalists that were interested in the super small videogames, but as was explained to me, if it doesn't drive enough traffic, it simply isn't feasible.

Do you have a final game in mind for the list?

One of the aims of this list on a personal level was to continually surprise myself (and hopefully the people that followed the list). For this reason alone, I have no idea what number 1000 will be.

Any plans for future projects? Plans for the list going forward?

I always have plenty of ideas bouncing around in that thing they call a brain. The Pirate Bay Bundle II, a book of interviews [and] videogame recommendations, experimental interviews with game makers—all sorts of wacky shit.

Anything else you'd like to mention about the list, yourself, cosmic truths from playing so many strange, interesting games?

I'd like to give a shoutout to all the curators that are fighting the good fight alongside me: Tim & Chris, Sebastian & Noah, Weird Fucking Videogames, Sergio Cornaga, Pip Turner, and others that I can't think of right at this moment. Also, much love to Itch.io, Game Jolt, Ludum Dare, [and] Glorious Trainwrecks who have all created encouraging frameworks for people to get their videogames out there, regardless of how weird they are.