Just in time for Ada Lovelace Day, CNN has published an interesting profile on up-and-coming video game developer Kellee Santiago. She creates and distributes “soft and gentle” video games, an alternative for gamers who aren’t interested in all the “spray-and-slay” video games dominating the market. Santiago’s games include such titles as “Flow,” “Cloud,” and “Flower,” the latter of which Santiago describes as “the video game version of a poem.” Pretty.
Pretty is probably the most accurate description of these games, actually. You can see screenshots and movies of Santiago’s titles for yourself on her company website. The game pages all described delicate, emotional experiences with an implied narrative—albeit a weak one. For example: the narrative of “Cloud” seems to consist of playing around with clouds, then forming rain clouds to “clean the world.” So don’t expect that much-heralded emotion to come from any sort of connection with the characters or plot. It seems that the emotions that Santiago is intent on plucking are somewhat more instinctive, as in “don’t hurt that pretty flower!” or “ooh, knocking clouds together is fun.”
Regardless, these games have already proven successful; only a few months after its release, “Cloud” had been played by over 350,000 people. Maybe this is because there just aren’t enough nonviolent video games on the market to appeal to alternative gamers. Or—maybe it’s that we don’t need an epiclike narrative to engage us; maybe appealing to basic emotions with basic ideas is enough. [CNN]