Life is what happens while you’re busy swiping on your smartphone. One day you’re graduating high school, and the next, you’re on the cusp of retirement, sitting in a doctor’s office waiting room because of prostate problems. InstLife, from the studio InstCoffee, is well aware of how fleeting our existence is, and attempts to transfer this experience to a small app that lets you live out the lives of others in just five short minutes. All you have to do is make some life-changing decisions and see where destiny takes you.
The simplicity of the game (if we can call it that) only offers you a minimal menu system revolving around a timeline where you can advance through each year with just the tap of a button. At any time in your fleeting existence, you can decide how to live out your life: from defining moments, like choosing to go to college or buy an apartment, to more trivial tasks like deciding whether to go to a party one night or take a few puffs of a cigarette. All of these decisions will let you live your life to the fullest or just leave it all to luck in an unfair mix of karma, chance, and hard work. In the end, everything will inevitably be summed up in a small score card with an epitaph and a short goodbye to your closest family members. Pretty much like real life.
InstLife is as uneventful as it is interesting. In one of my games, I decided to try to be an upstanding citizen, get my degree, buy a nice house, get married, have kids…but an onset of depression ended my marriage and I ended up sleeping in the street until I froze to death. In another round, I decided to be a starving artist who decided to emigrate to India…only to end up bleeding to death on an electric fence while trying to enter the country illegally.
InstLife is a “game” for Android that’s far from what you may consider fun, bringing us a completely insensitive and bleak view of our existence while reminding us that the “game of life” can end at any time. Rick and Morty posed the same idea with similar results and the same knife in our hearts. Simulating temporary existences only heightens our own awareness of the futility of our lives and that what’s really important, when all’s said and done, is the mark we leave on the world. Although, all things considered, one of our own real-life experiences is this simulator thanks to the digital environment that we consume so much of these days. Hmm…