Not to beat a dead horse, but I have more to say about this game after a week of playing it. As I said in my last post, I don't want this to turn into a video game review blog. That's not my aim. Instead, I'd like to have a discussion about this game, because I absolutely love it. I love this game.
Here is some background music for
you while you read the article. Please listen to it; it's one of my
favourite pieces from the game's soundtrack.
my last post, I have played through this game 4 more times, making for 5
in total, and my husband has played through once. I've convinced 2
other friends to play and it affected them similarly. The 4 other
playthroughs were vastly different from my first, and two of them I
found profoundly sad.
What I've learned from the
playthroughs of the game is that finding a companion who wants to travel
with you is absolutely golden. I was spoiled during my first few plays,
and I had partners who were helpful, engaged and patient, then moved on
to partners who were mostly goal-oriented in the latter plays, some of
whom didn't think twice about running ahead. I got separated from many
of them. It didn't sour the experience, but it did make me feel very
sad, and lonely. This is especially true for the last one, in which I
had a few not-so-patient partners, then finally came across one who was
very friendly and let me teach them a little trick (how to trip).
Momentarily afterward, though, we were separated, and then I was forced
to complete the rest of the game alone.
One of the main
things this game has taught me is that you can find kindness in anyone.
In that the game is anonymous (until the end--but even then you can
retain a level of anonymity), any person you meet on the street can be a
person you played with. Regardless, I've been rethinking how I interact
with people I don't know, even if it's obvious that they wouldn't play
Journey. To me, the people you play Journey with are the same as the
people you encounter randomly on the street. They each have that
capacity for goodness and kindness. The person you're playing Journey
with is, figuratively, the person who holds the door for you, or the
person who bends down to help you pick up something you dropped. They
may not be directly or overtly changing or affecting you, but what they
do for you certainly means a lot. It's like graffiti or yarnbombing,
but instead of witnessing a physical imprint, the player gets to
witness an emotional imprint. The game's anonymity is also a nice
reminder that you could be playing with anyone, making discrimination
That also means that in this
game, any first impression is not a first impression of you. You don't
need to wear specific clothes or look a certain way for someone to like
you. Racism is gone. Language is gone. A whole new level of
anonymity is achieved. Because of that, nothing can be personal; it's
simply not possible. Though, of course, with a game like this, the
player just might end up taking things personally, because the game
feels personal, even if it really isn't. The game is really an extension
of yourself: it is how you project yourself uniquely in a world where
people don't look so unique.
On a more plot-driven
point, this game can be seen as many stories converging into one. This
game has seven chapters: the Prologue, the Broken Bridge, the Desert,
the Sunken City, the Water Caves, the Sand Temple, and the Snowy Summit.
Other things that have seven chapters are the seven stages of grief and the seven stages of life,
both of which can have nuances which hint to themes used in the game. I
will leave that for you to explore with your own experience of the
game, and if you haven't played the game yet... well, why haven't you
played the game yet?!
The game is also highly reflective of the hero's journey, which Jenova Chen himself spoke of in an interview. Once again I'll let you read it and draw your own parallels.
of the problem I've had more recently with finding partners not quite
so engaging might be me. I've realised that I have gone into the game
more recently with a goal: to show people things and to make friends.
But, it's the journey that's important. The point of this game is not to
have goals and things you absolutely need to do or succeed at. It's the
journey that counts!
To end this, I have a different article for you to read. This one is about Jenova Chen, co-founder of thatgamecompany and artistic director. I find his vision to be fascinating and genuine.
think part of the reason this game has affected me so strongly is
because I am on a journey, myself. Like Chen, my desire is also to move
and touch people, but with words instead. It is my wish that some day, I
might be able to write something that moves someone in the world as
much as Journey moved (and continues to move) me.
(Note: This post was originally published on 4/5/12 at this link.)