Skip to Content
Video Games

A Game That Lets You Fight Back Against The Indignity Of Waiting

In "While Waiting," you live the dream of behaving badly in a line

Owning my own business and working from home, I don’t actually wait for stuff that much anymore. If anything, I have the opposite problem: tasks and responsibilities are constantly flying at my head while I shout, “Aah, wait a minute!” at them. But if you have not made the same terrible life choices as me, the demo of upcoming game While Waiting might be your speed.

While Waiting’s demo has been out since March, but I checked it out after seeing some folks talking about it online over the weekend. The demo features 10 levels from developer Optillusion’s full game, where you control a character across various ages as they wait for stuff: a bus to come, the rain to stop, someone to get out of the bathroom, their boss to finish a presentation. You have the option to simply wait, standing there until the thing you want to happen happens, but you can also get up to trouble, guided by vague in-game achievements like “percussive maintenance” and “Watch out!” 

One of my favorite levels was about waiting for a game to download. You’re faced with a familiar on-screen screen of several simultaneous downloads, and an indicator that your internet connection is low. The downloads crawl along, so I did all the things I do when faced with that situation on Steam: I turned the internet on and off, paused and un-paused the downloads, and set them up to download one after the other before getting impatient and trying to force them all to happen at the same time again. Like every level in While Waiting, there’s stuff you can do that isn’t immediately clear, which I discovered by clicking around. It was such a familiar, relatable situation, and such a unique feeling to have the feelings I usually have around a game inside a game instead.

Another favorite level for me, for personal reasons, was waiting for the bathroom. I’m a trans man, so I am intimately familiar with the uncomfortable situation of waiting for a bathroom stall when there’s a free urinal. In real life, I pass this time by doing the “you go ahead” gesture at men, combined with a choreography I’ve perfected of trying to pretend I have to poop (justifying my wait for the stall) but not so urgently that I cause a scene. In While Waiting, I wandered over to the urinal, only to be confronted by the fact that–just like in real life–I couldn’t figure out if I could pee in it. (In the game, it appears your character actually has to poop, as suggested by an uncomfortably hilarious image of an upturned can of Spam.)

Given how many possible tasks each level presents, it seems like the game wants you to mess around while waiting, but I like the idea of just standing there, even if I never actually succeeded at doing it. In real life, you don’t–or, I hope you don’t–respond to the interminable wait for your luggage on the airport carousel by hurling everyone’s bags around the terminal. Some of the secrets you can get up to strain the bounds of credulity, painting While Waiting’s world as much wackier than its initial mundane premise might suggest. I am dour and un-fun, so I’d love to see more levels where you’re actually constrained by reality, though I understand what a bad game that would make when stretched over hours. But despite my desire for everything to be tediously literal, it was delightful to discover little secrets in While Waiting’s scenes, creating interesting events and revelling in throwing destructive tantrums.

There’s a bit of Untitled Goose Game in While Waiting’s self-created chaos and mysterious tasks, but without the excuse of “hey, I’m a goose!”, you really just get to let your worst impulses come out. There’s no release date yet, but While Waiting promises over 100 levels to cause a scene in when we get a full release.

Already a user?Log in

Thanks for reading Aftermath!

Please register to read more free articles

See all subscription options

Enjoyed this article? Consider sharing it! New visitors get a few free articles before hitting the paywall, and your shares help more people discover Aftermath.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Aftermath

I Fucking Hate Ser Criston Cole

Every episode that goes by where Ser Criston Cole doesn’t die makes me want to take matters into my own hands.

Welcome To Xbox’s Rot Economy

Everything is getting worse on purpose

See all posts