When it comes to video games, they aid us in escaping our lives. Whether it’s when we’re children-thinking we’re Pokemon masters or as adults to help us deal with stressful situations-we use them to escape from reality from time to time. There is a new video game genre that began growing a few years ago, ones that don’t deal with gruesome action scenes and other acts of violence. They are called empathy games, where your mission is to tackle real-life situations such as alcoholism, cancer, depression, and much more. For those who face these growing problems, here are three games that will aid in your quest to defeating them.
Papo & Yo
One game that involves the player with alcoholism is Papo & Yo. Vander Caballero, owner of Minority studio, dealt with an alcoholic father. He decided to make a game where the player does not violently defeat a substance abusing father. When coming close to not finishing this game, Vander explained “…if I wanted to finish this game, I needed to do it for other people, not for myself.” This game involves a young child named Quico who has to deal with Monster, a huge, pink creature that gets enraged when eating poisonous frogs, taking his frustration out on Quico. Many children and spouses deal with these situations, where a love one has a split personality when it comes to alcohol and/or drugs. The game is available on the PS3 and on Steam. Minority is now working on their latest game, called Silent Enemy, which is based on confronting bullying.
Another game deals with love and depression. Players take the role as Evan Winter, a professional worker in Toronto. Throughout the game, you are constantly shown what goes on within his mind. Within this game, the player chooses decisions for Evan. Will O’Niell created the game to show how a person dealing with suicidal thoughts live their lives. Evan has been dealing with depression for his whole life and he doesn’t listen to any outside advice. He believes that whatever goes on mentally in his mind is the truth. During the ending of the game, control is taking completely away from the player, resulting in Evan making his own choices. Suicide is another issue we see throughout the news and in our daily lives. From this game, people should be shown how to deal with their growing, depressing moods and find ways to reach out to their loved ones.
That Cancer Dragon
Cancer is something else families struggle to deal with. It’s been something I have watched my family members suffer from my whole life and it never seems to fail to come back to hit my family harder. Take the Greens, for instant. They began working on a project to show the struggles they went through when their young son Joel was diagnosis with cancer. From watching a demo of the game, you would play as the father, in a poly-graphical world, filled with radiant colors such as the sunlight bouncing off the window and filling the room. Subtitles are put alongside the wall as the father speaks in a rather poetic way. It’s a heartbreaking story, as Joel passed away during development. Don’t think this game is about cancer; it is to show how Joel’s parents cherished every second they could get with him. I hope to see this game completed in the near future for it will be filled with both tearful and compassionate moments.
I believe more empathetic games should be made. I would like to see one that revolves around characters who have loved ones fighting to survive with cancer. Just like That Cancer Dragon, it would have one or multiple characters, keeping themselves from falling apart as they hold onto their family member and live life to its fullest. We see too many games that are surrounded by only violence and war. We see too few that have these types of situations. In addition to depression and suicide, one group of men and women who are constantly in battlefields and witness horrific acts are soldiers. For those who deal with post-traumatic stress disorder, the Oculus Rift has been aiding soldiers haunted by this syndrome. This purpose is to show soldiers’ experiences they went through daily but it will give them a sense of empowerment as they are the ones controlling the scenario. Recent studies have shown that the soldiers using the Oculus Rift improved and had less symptoms of PTSD.
It’s intriguing to see games that involve these emotions. There are a majority of people who deal with depression, suicide, and loss of a loved one that rather confront these issues by themselves instead of seeking support from others. I hope people who face these scenarios will play these games and reach out to family members. Know of any other similar games? Comment below and leave links to games that you believed helped you deal with your own internal problems.
Johnson, B. (2013, December 5). Using virtual reality video games to treat PTSD: MarketPlace
Norris, E. (2013, April 18). Moving Past the Monster: Vander Caballero on Papo & Yo: Crave Online
Owen, P. (2013, April 19). 4 Video Games That Help You Understand and Deal With Your Depressio: Kotaku
Scimeca, D. (2013, July). That Dragon Cancer Demo: http://vimeo.com/70431767