Friday, February 22, 2013

I play video games [Part I]

I played this new game the other day, Inner Vision, and before I start talking about it I think that you should give it a go as well. It is a very short game and it is well worth it. You can find it here (the link will take you straight to it).

Now I will assume that you have played and finished the game (won or lost), so if you have not this article might get a little difficult to follow. I am still trying to figure out why this game moved me so much. The limits were very obvious and could feel frustrating at times, when none of the answers that the game offered corresponded to what I wanted to answer myself. But within such a small game that was made with a time constraint as well, it makes sense and it still captures the essence of the topic. I have already had discussions along similar lines and had feelings that were close to those myself, though not as dramatic. In fact, we could see a much broader subject beyond the initial one, which is suicide. Any dialogue where one opens up on their sadness and the other tries to give them advices to cheer them up shares a similar structure, which is quite fantastic.

This game puts the player in the position of a listener, some kind of last chance that these characters give themselves, the goal being to talk them into forgetting about their suicidal thoughts. This is a lot of pressure but because it is a game, when a character asks for advice you can think about what you would answer in this situation (and pick the answer that is the closest to what you think is right) or you can think about what you should answer to win the game. This ambiguity is very interesting. Pushing players to reflect on their status of player is quite rare, and it will not work for everybody either because the interpretation of any kind of work is different for everyone.

So of course you start to care about these characters. You want to help them, to give them hope that life is something beautiful that they should not give up on. And when you get there, when they see this hope and they thank you, how does it feel? How often does a game thank their players in a way that feels so sincere? This is certainly due to the topic of this game but I cannot recall many gaming moments where I cared enough about a character to believe in the distress they claim to be in, and in their gratitude after I helped them. In Inner Vision, the characters' thankful words resonated very deep, they felt good, like love. This game made me feel love and it made me spread it through care. And it made me think about life and death. It made me think about many more things. And it made me think that video games is such a powerful medium, such a beautiful one as well.

Inner Vision is the work of Sunil Rao, and the music used in the game is from Takenobu.

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