I wonder, from time to time, why there aren’t more spiritual games. To clarify right out of the gate, I’m categorically not talking about religious games. Those exist, and I’m aware of them, but even they aren’t really hitting the target I’m talking about, generally preferring game-y reenactments of biblical or rapture events.
No, the spirituality I’m talking about is the sort that appeals even to the most secular of us. Consider The Shawshank Redemption
- a movie about perseverance, dignity, and a type of freedom that can never be taken away from us. The end of this movie fills you with the joy of being human, after spending several hours slowly dripping you into a state of hopeless nihilism. -more—>
I’ve never felt that from a game. Honestly, most games would be lucky to just get to the nihilism.
Lots of games tell good stories, but I worry as creators that we’re still catering to the same fantasies of the same teenage boys.
Where are the games that remind me of the sheer force of a community believing in someone ( It’s a Wonderful Life ), or how a person can change and improve themselves ( Groundhog Day )? (The last one is an interesting example, as the structure of the movie mirrors most game experiences…)
I know that we can point to things like Flower or Shadow of the Colossus as attempting to evoke higher emotions — but they haven’t really burst through to mainstream popularity. The films I’ve mentioned have all met with strong commercial success, even if it waited until the DVD with Shawshank. (Is this a sign of what the market expects or of what they’ve come to expect from us? Would it be possible to raise the emotional expectations of the market bit-by-bit?)
Really, in mainstream games, the closest we come to spiritual expression is a kind of tepid environmentalism or a vague transcendentalism that’s fairly well divorced from the mechanics — I’m thinking most of Final Fantasy VII with both of these examples, but really we tend to stick to overt power fantasies.
I guess what I’m saying is that simply conquering evil doesn’t sate me anymore. It’s not enough to destroy the Ring; I should learn the power of fellowship on the journey.
I want to play games that embody these concepts. I want to make them, too.