Life, eh? It's all a bit mad really, isn't it? Here we are, the products of millions of years of chance chemical and biological reactions, wandering around on a dying rock as it spins through the vast, indifferent universe with nought but the knowledge of our own inevitable oblivion for company.
A sobering thought. And sobering thoughts will sure as sugar turn you to drink. But you don't want to do that - apparently it can be quite good for you. So spare your liver and sacrifice your eyesight and wrist tendons instead by digging in to our latest top ten games that make you think about life.
1 One Chance
Here's something to think about - every decision we ever make, no matter how seemingly inconsequential it may be at the time, has the potential to fundamentally change our lives forever. A simple 'Should I go down the boozer?' on an idle Tuesday evening could set off a chain of events that leads to you meeting your partner, getting married, having kids, the whole shebang. Or you could end up with liver disease.
Of course, the thing about decisions is you normally only get one chance to make them and, once they're made, you can't go back. This frankly rather depressing little segue brings us to One Chance.
You are the super-smart scientist whose discovery appears to have conquered one of the most devastating diseases known to humankind. Unfortunately - oh hubris, thy name is scientist guy! - your discovery has also gone ape and will kill every living cell on Earth within the week. What you might call a mixed day at the office. Over the next few days, the decisions you make will determine the fate of, well, everything, everywhere. A good time, perhaps, to invest in a bigger executive stress ball.
Even with the cartoony retro graphics, developer AwkwardSilenceGames has delivered a game that, like a good thriller, builds a creeping sense of unease into its early stages that gradually accelerates to blind panic as the clock ticks down to doomsday. Will you find a cure? Will you top yourself? Will you retire to the boozer and hope for the best from the bottom of a bottle? The clever thing is, you really will only get One Chance to find out. Play One Chance here.
2 A Mother in Festerwood
Kids, eh? It seems like one minute, they're little pixels wandering around your woodland home, the next they're on their way into the big, wide world, where they must find their own treasure and kill their own trolls. At least, that's how life is like in Festerwood.
As a mother, it's your job to keep your little tyke in the safety of the homestead until they have enough experience to survive the monster-infested woods. Don't expect any gratitude, though. The brat will continually try to give you the slip and escape into the wild. After a while, like many a parent, you may well be tempted to say sod it and let the know-it-alls find out the hard way what the world's really like. Let them just see!
Oh, they'll be back when they want feeding. Well, they better bring some treasure. We aren't made of money, you know. And will there be a word of thanks? And look at the state of your room? This isn't a hotel. And another thing... Ahem. Play A Mother in Festerwood here.
3 American Dream
Crude, materialistic, morally bankrupt, downright filthy...you've got to love the wonderful world of the free market. And it's captured in all it's terrible, rapacious glory in American Dream, a frankly bizarre celebration of consumerism and greed that pitches itself somewhere in between American Psycho and Fight Club.
The aim of the game is to make a million buckaroos by trading the "stock" of a eclectic collection of long-forgotten celebs (Max Headroom, Rick Astley...er...Madonna) and Blondie (everyone loves Blondie, right?). Yes, really.
Buy low, sell high and kit out your pad with all the latest furniture and gadgets to hide the emptiness inside. Once you have, of course, it'll all be out of fashion and you must start all over again. Oh and then there's the parties...which you can find out about yourself. Perhaps best not to play this one with your gran. Play American Dream here.
4 As I Lay Dying
Of course, a big part of life is sharing it with another person. Unless you subscribe to the view that hell is other people, I suppose. But anyway, let's say you don't. You like at least one person enough to share your life with them. Right.
As I Lay Dying makes you think about how far you'd go to get that person back home - even if they're dead. The dialogue might sound like it's been recorded in a phone box, but this retro-style platform adventure offers plenty of little puzzles and pesky enemies to test your initiative and throwing arm. Leave no man behind. Play As I Lay Dying here.
Another thing about life is that you can sometimes wake up in a strange place without a clue about what's going on. This isn't always a bad thing; there was that time in San Francisco when I came to and there was this girl...erm...I digress. In the case of Prior, however, waking up in a strange place without a clue about what's going on is most definitely not a good thing. It's up to you to find out just what the flippin' 'eck is going on and where your family have gone.
Prior is a classic platform that, like 1980s classics like Treasure Island Dizzy, put the emphasis on you picking up clues and solving little puzzles to crack the maze and save the day. Cool music, too. Play Prior here.
6 The End of Us
Life can, of course, bring very sad moments. People come and go. Friends drift away. Sometimes they crash into planets. Erm, well in this case they do. This strangely touching little game sets you up as a purple comet whizzing through the cosmos, who is joined by a spirited orange comet. You spin and swirl through the vastness of space, chasing stars for no particular reason and slowly fading as you grow older.
All things must pass, though, and you eventually come upon a asteroid belt that knocks the wind out of you. In the end, all that's left is to decide who's going to take the big fall and who's going to carry on alone? Although this game is set to a music track, I'd suggest playing it while listening to Do You Realize?? by The Flaming Lips. Pass the hanky. Sniff. You can play The End of Us here.
Meat can change your life, apparently. I honestly couldn't tell you. I also honestly couldn't tell you what you could learn about life from Pipedreamz, but then perhaps it's a bit too intellectual for me. It's a series of weird mini-games in which you have to flip burgers, surf and trough meat without others seeing. I just don't know. I really don't. Maybe you can work it out. Let me know if you crack it. Play Pipedreamz here.
The beautifully animated Flight is all about hope. The hope of a little girl to see her mum at Christmas. Aww. Little Sandy has written down her only wish on a paper aeroplane and it's up to you to make sure that the message gets all the way to London, 1,000 miles away.
This highly addictive little physics game is all about picking up and chucking said plane as far as you possibly can. Getting altitude and distance will help you pick up money to buy some pretty nifty extras - I wish my paper planes at school had an afterburner. Ooh and you can personalise your plane too! And what kind of monster wouldn't want to help a little girl at Christmas? Even when it's April? Play Flight here.
If you've ever been in a long-distance relationship, Distance is likely to tug at your heart strings. If you're just a soppy old romantic, it'll hit the spot too. If, like me, you're a sneering misanthrope with a piece of flint where your heart should be, you'll still appreciate the storytelling.
Austin Breed, who clearly likes pondering life as he was also the developer behind A Mother in Festerwood, has created a split-screen tale of a couple separated by, well, distance. You follow their separate, daily routines and at night get to pose one of two questions while they chat on the phone. But will their eyes start to wander? What would you do? Find out! Play Distance here.
Spent is more of a personal challenge than a game. Putting you in the extremely sobering position of being one of America's 14 million unemployed. You have no savings and no home. Can you survive the month? Course you can, right? Just find a job! Land of opportunity and all that. So you view the ads and try to land a post. I failed the typing test to become a temp (rather upsetting, I must say) so took the warehouse route.
Of course, all that lifting puts a strain on the body, so do you cough up for health insurance or opt out and just hope you don't get hurt? Then you need somewhere to live. Do you pay a higher rent to be closer to your job or live further out but spent cash on commuting? Then, of course, there's the bills. Do you pay the arrears on your car or go without? Do you pay your student debt? What about the lighting? Heating? Water?
Oh and not forgetting feeding your kids, paying to send them on field trips, shelling out for birthday parties, covering your mother's medical bills...and feeding yourself. It soon becomes a stressful grind that illustrates, even if it's just a little game and you only have to survive one month, some of the truly awful choices that people face every day. It's like an interactive version of Morgan Spurlock's 30 Days on Minimum Wage.
The game was put together by Urban Ministries of Durham in North Carolina, which works to help those needing food, shelter, clothing and support without asking why they need it or who is to blame. Play Spent here.