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Killing Time at Lightspeed is a social media text adventure in space

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Time dilation is a regularly visited theme in science fiction. If you’ve seen Interstellar, or read Joe Haldeman’s Forever War, you’ll know that it refers to the passage of time in space travel being slower than it is on Earth. In Forever War, for example, people go to war for a couple of Earth years, but during the time spent en route to other planets, many decades pass.

Killing Time at Lightspeed isn’t about going to war, though. It’s interactive fiction which takes place entirely on a mocked up social media platform. As the game progresses, and as the protagonist’s ascent into space gets deeper and deeper, time dilation causes the game's social media feed to swell with messages from people with whom timely interactions could never possibly occur.

The synopsis: “on a transport ship leaving earth, a passenger kills time by scrolling through the messages of their social media feed. As the ship leaves and moves further and further away from home, the delay between sending messages and their arrival lengthens. What feels like minutes on the ship is hours, days, weeks, even years back on Earth. Each refresh of the timeline is a tiny window into the past. What will you do in those precious few moments as the lives of everyone you know pass by?”

Conceived at the 2014 Antholojam game jam, Killing Time at Lightspeed is the work of Australian one-man studio Gritfish, aka John Kane, and is an attempt “at exploring the connections we all have to people online who we may be powerless to help except with our words." It hits Steam on July 5, and there’s a trailer below.

Shaun Prescott is the Australian editor of PC Gamer. With over ten years experience covering the games industry, his work has appeared on GamesRadar+, TechRadar, The Guardian, PLAY Magazine, the Sydney Morning Herald, and more. Specific interests include indie games, obscure Metroidvanias, speedrunning, experimental games and FPSs. He thinks Lulu by Metallica and Lou Reed is an all-time classic that will receive its due critical reappraisal one day.