I just played a game called One Chance.
You should play it. It’s a Flash game that takes all of fifteen minutes to get all the way through. You play a scientist who discovers that cure for cancer. However, that cure turns out to be a pathogen that will destroy every living cell on earth in six days. You have to make a choice about what to do.
I don’t think that I did it correctly. I don’t think that I had the perseverance to make sure things worked out; I skipped out on work to celebrate and drink, after all. What would have happened if I had just done the research?
So I’m not saying this is art. At best, I think that it might be a cheap mechanism to play at heart strings. What I think is important is that it’s a “game” only because we don’t have the language to express what it really is. It’s an interactive way to interrogate the idea of choice. It isn’t goal-oriented. There isn’t a right choice. Presumably, there is a choice that makes things “better,” but that’s just a choice among many. The main qualm that I had with Heavy Rain was that it was so heavily dramatized–it felt like I was watching an action movie combined with a Saw film. One Chance doesn’t have any drama; in fact, you’re really left to make your own emotional attachments to the game (there is a failing in the game when it comes to how it deals with your wife–that moment is heavily dramatized).
I’m going to show you what happened at the end of my game. I wasn’t happy with it. I don’t like the “poetry” of dying with your daughter in the park. I wanted there to be something better. But there wasn’t. There was the “reality” of what was happening. That was all.
So I still don’t think games are sophisticated, “good” art, but I’ll be damned if this wasn’t something that makes me have hope.