I Have Candy Get In The Van is a game about touching the lives of young people. It wobbles in an uneasy, feverish, barely restrained balance between trying to paint a humane and serious portrait of the psychology of abuse, and between being a shock-baiting TIGS contest entry. If you read the author's forum thread, you get a fairly interesting journey of difficult passion and ultimately, ambivalence.
The game and its textual molestations go out of their way to avoid overt graphical depictions of pederasty, the most graphic depictions in the game are instead of pedagogy. You even get some text messages sardonically congratulating you on the lives you're ruining if you choose to follow the paths of rape and/or murder, which in a way muddles any sense of haunting you might have after such elections. Its just on the cusp of being interesting, but it teeters back into the realm of being a gag game. That you can play it as a monster or a Robin Williams-esque mentor, creating highly distinct endings, gives the game literary flavor, but the follow-through loses its nerve. The opening disclaimer, with its pre-emptive defense and "This is Satire!" emblem emblazoned on that shield, in a way sets the game up to fail at doing anything more than groping at the subject.
The gameplay is a strange yet intruiging hodgepodge of NES Ghostbusters, a teaching simulation, and a text-driven RPG. You mow about town trying to keep a low profile and hide from cops when need be, while picking up kids and taking them on fun trips to the park, library, and porno store etc. Then you try to teach them things like geography, the Fibonacci sequence, the perverse pleasures of paradoxical ponderings, and astronomy. When they don't answer correctly or challenge your authority you have the opportunity to encourage them, comfort them, yell at them and so forth. The main psychological focus in this gameplay is that your early choices constrain future choices while opening up more extreme versions of the same behavior, in an attempt to frame your decision making in the same context as a sick and lonely individual reaching out to someone innocent for companionship but breaking everything he touches. It kind of works, and to the extent that the game doesn't brow-beat you about it, you might just feel some insight has been gained. Overall though, the paidic self-exploration of each ending vector becomes reduced to therapy by numbers, like one of those folding multiple-choice quizzes that kids play with on the bus.
I think the apparent catharsis of this game was good for the author and may clear his mind to making something with similar poise and sincerity but more intentional design. In the meantime, this is probably one of the better games in the recent Adult/Education contest, and to that extent is worth evaluating.