Games That Bridge The Gap

journey 01

A situation I frequently come across is trying to explain (to people that don’t play video games) that all video games aren’t violent, horrible brainwashing devices. That they aren’t only for teenage boys or people still living at home in their parent’s basement. No matter how successful the industry gets, it seems certain misconceptions hold fast.

I do my best to dispel those misconceptions when and where I can.

I often find that if I can even show someone a trailer for a certain game (or games), it is the first step on the path to a more open mind. It also doesn’t hurt to point out that since smart phones came on the scene, an even greater number of people play video games in some form or another on a regular basis whether they think of them that way or not. So I try to show them that console gaming (or PC gaming) is no more to be feared than the games they might play on their phone. I then get to point out that some incredible and moving games are out there, if only they would keep their mind open to experience them.

The first game I always use for an example is That Game Company’s Journey. Journey is the perfect example of a game that can bridge a gap quickly and efficiently.

First of all, the controls are among the most accessible. Most people who aren’t familiar with games are overwhelmed by certain control schemes in general, and a controller specifically. With Journey, that isn’t the case.

The experience of Journey is moving, extremely so, and I find, since its meaning is open to some amount of interpretation, it creates a bond between game and player in a way most other games haven’t been able to come close to touching.

If people have been dismissive of video games, I like to show them the trailer. If I can get them to even watch that, it feels like a victory.

I once heard Journey explained to a non-gamer as the epitome of the most poetic children’s book you can imagine. I find that to be an apt description.

That Game Company made another accessible game with Flower, where the controls were even more streamlined, and the message of the game was clear. I will also use that one for an example when given the opportunity.

okami 01

The other game I default to is Okami. Okami may have a middling level of violence, but the art style, the aspects of nature, and the overall message of bringing life back to the land translates in a way that many other games don’t. If I can show someone the trailer for this game, they are usually on board by the time the land explodes into cherry blossom petals.

It doesn’t hurt that you cure these lands with celestial brushstrokes, and trail flowers behind you as you run.

This may be a bit more difficult to convince someone to physically play, as the control scheme may be complicated for someone not accustomed to a controller. I don’t let that stop me from encouraging them to try!

There are so many more games I use to try to bridge the gap, but if it’s not one of these two, I often am trying to tailor the recommendation to that person’s interests. I find once I can tap into those interests, I am at least moderately successful in getting their interest past the initial “games are for weirdos” hurdle.

And that feels pretty amazing. It’s hard not to be excited when explaining all these amazing worlds that can be explored through the video game medium.

And excitement is infectious. So I will keep trying.

Categories: games

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12 replies »

  1. I’m sure you could also bring up Portal, non-contact sports games, and business management games on steam.

    I don’t understand why after all those games have come out, especially sports games, that people think video games are purely violent and evil. Sports games have commercials almost all year long for sports, yet there is still the stigma of only violence.

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    • that’s a good choice, too.

      and good point! i don’t see why people can’t look at games a bit more objectively. i mean, sure, a lot of people don’t keep up on the gaming scene, but still, those sports games come out EVERY YEAR. so…yes. i’m right there with you.

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  2. I really need to play journey and I never really had the experience of showing someone that video games aren’t always violent.

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  3. So true, so true. Although it’s not just people who don’t game that have those or similar misconceptions. It’s a strange experience to tell a fellow gamer that you also love video games and play many, but when you say you don’t play COD or Madden their head explodes (not literally, that would be messy) because they can’t seem to accept that it’s a much wider world that exists beyond those two.

    I get that current control schemes can be terribly overwhelming for many though, especially if the last time they played a video game the controller only had like, two or four buttons. Watching someone struggle to wrap their mind around one stick for movement and another for the camera the first time can be equal parts frustrating and hilarious. Add to that the wealth of other buttons it can be nearly insurmountable for a person new to, or long removed from the hobby.

    I prefer to think that games are indeed for weirdos, but the secret is that we are all weirdos. :-P

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    • i was sincerely amused by the “messy” comment. :)

      i know. i will never understand that gamers can be so understanding and aware, and then there is the (hopefully smaller) contingent that is very exclusionary to the point of if you play anything other than the “bro games” you are a wuss or something.

      as for controllers, imagine someone who has NEVER played a console game and perhaps has only played an arcade version of centipede or something. then it’s even more tough!

      we ARE all weirdos! i love it!

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  4. We share this quest! I too have been trying forever to get grown ups around me or at work into playing video games. I had some mild success in the past with animal crossing. Showing them how the mixer really worked, and the micro wave really pinged. And sending letters in game to other players is a classic. Others I shoved a professor Layton under their nose, showing them that games don’t have to be mindless.

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    • yay!!! i really do think the example of games on smart phones (and tablets) is a good one to point out as a lot of people don’t consider them to be games. which i think is funny. games are games! i don’t discriminate! :)

      i do love that about animal crossing, that so many things are interactive or customizable. i love rainbows and i altered all my cabin furniture to reflect this. :)

      layton is another great example. puzzle games are excellent and the quality is usually quite good.

      we can reach the masses! we just have to keep at it.

      also, since i know you love nintendo, i wanted to tell you i was asked to write for a site called 8-worlds news, and my first piece goes up tomorrow! i’m nervous and excited.

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    • Oh, Professor Layton is a good one. Of course that also brings the Phoenix Wright games to mind. I’s have to admit that I don’t often get the chance to tell people about how awesome games are, because most of the people I talk to already know that.

      Liked by 1 person

      • phoenix wright is another good series to bring up.

        well that’s pretty great! i’d love if people i knew in my real life loved games, universally.

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