The typical video game requires eye-hand coordination along with trigger-happy reflexes. Yet there’s a new breed of games out there dubbed contemplative gaming. The idea is less to blow things up and more to explore an artistic environment.
The independent game studio, thatgamecompany, recently released a game called “Journey,” which places the player in the role of a silent robed figure standing alone in a sea of glimmering sand dunes. In the distance, a great mountain appears against the sky as your destination. The metaphor is that this is your life journey for you to discover on your own. From start to finish, everything about this mysterious and beautiful experience is entirely open to interpretation, and the overall feeling of playing is one of serenity and peace.
“I think the quality we are after in ‘Journey’ and similar games is not zen or relaxation or even peacefulness, really, but something like interactive contemplation, or contemplative gaming,” says Timothy J. Welsh, assistant professor of digital humanities at Loyola University. “I realize that is a term that also gets associated with zen, mediation, and mystic spirituality, but I’m thinking of it more in the sense of how one regards a landscape painting.”
If you see video games as a possible art form, you might enjoy this latest category of video games. Now video games can be as thought-provoking and calming as a museum painting.
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