In Ulitsa Dimitrova, you play Pyotr, a seven year-old homeless boy in St. Petersburg. The graphics are stark pen drawings, the music an annoying recorder tune. You are a chain smoker, and need to obtain cigarettes. You can break the Mercedes medallions off cars and sell them, and smash shop windows to steal stuff, as well as beg passersby for money. You can also encounter your mom, a prostitute, who will give you some money in exchange for booze, as she is an alcoholic.
If you fail to keep going, you get tired, have a nicotine withdrawal fit, lie down, are covered with snow, and die.
Once the transgressive nature of the subject material is experienced, you realize there's really nothing much to this game; no progress, no strategy, nothing but repetitive experience. As a game qua game, in other words, it sucks, really.
The sadness of its subject material is worth exploring; this is obviously not an emotion much explored in games. Yet it's notable in another way; this is not a game with remote commercial potential (nor is it intended to be such), but it is actually well suited to a particular ecosystem that has not existed in games until recently: It works very well in a festival setting. In such a setting, there are a bunch of games on a bunch of machines, and you move from one to the other. A game with depth that might take some time to get into does not shine here, because few will devote more than a few minutes to any title. Contrariwise, a game with shocking subject material and an unusual visual style will gain considerable attention, and the fact that there's no more than a few minutes of gameplay is irrelevant, since nothing will get more than a few minutes of gameplay.
Ulitsa Dimitrova was a 2010 IGF Student Showcase nominee.