You can read the full text of the game for free at medium.com and you can obtain the pdf on a pay-what-you-want basis at tao-games.com. The game text is very short and there is no way I can avoid spoilers in this review so I suggest that you read the game for yourself or be ready to have the contents spoiled.
The Tragedy of GJ 237b is a science fiction role-playing art piece about the negative consequences of human contact with alien ecosystems. The game mainly consists of a description of the inhabitants of GJ237b. Those inhabitants where irrevocably changed by contact with humans.
I will repeat that I cannot finish this review without spoiling what is in the game, so either go read it yourself or be prepared for spoilers.
|Spoilers to follow!|
Sounds weird, right? I will say it again, read the game for yourself. I enjoyed reading The Tragedy of GJ237b and I ask myself, "Is it really a game?" I would say that it is game adjacent. The Tragedy of GJ237b is more of a piece of art than a game, and I think that this is what makes it interesting. I challenge you to have your game group read the rules and then debate whether or not The Tragedy of GJ237b is a game.
The main theme of the game, that human interaction will fundamentally change ecosystems, is a thought-provoking science fiction trope. Kim Stanley Robinson explored this topic in his book Red Mars, and it also touches on issues of colonialism. It is a heady theme and one that will elicit lots of opinions and discussion.
Is this game worth playing? Can you even play it? I think that this game is worth reading for the fact that it is trying to do something different. I would love to see it set up at a convention, or in a spare room of a house during a game night. The alien culture of GJ237b is truly unique and will be an inspiration for science fiction fans. I recommend it, and if you decide to stage a "playing" of the game, let me know how it went.