GIRP is a game where you have to use your keyboard and mouse to climb up a rocky cliff using the provided handholds. Now stop and think about how you expect such a game to control. Using the arrow keys, or click to move, or some similar convenient and silly abstraction.
GIRP’s controls refuse to abstract movement in the standard way. You have two arms, and you can aim one of your arms at a handhold by holding down the letter that appears on the handhold. If you stop holding down the letter, the arm lets go. The only other control you have is pressing the mouse button (or shift key) to flex your muscles. So the process then goes aim with your hand, flex your muscle to pull yourself up, grab the handhold, aim with the other hand, repeat.
Sounds a lot closer to the thought processes of someone actually climbing a wall, right? That’s kind of the point. Similar to how QWOP came up with an original control scheme to let you control someone running, GIRP is using it’s controls to simulate the experience of rock climbing. It’s not trying to make you feel like a rock-climbing superhero, or make you feel like you’re managing a rock climber, which would be the standard gamey way to handle this scenario. It’s simulating the thought process. It’s fascinating.
Talking Points: How do attempts at pasting standard control schemes over the theme of rock climbing fail to capture the experience? How do the controls affect how you think about the game when you’re not playing? How do you describe the game to people who haven’t played it, by describing the controls? How does that differ from how you’d describe the game if it had standard controls?