Sorry for the late chime-in today, folks, but Mardi Gras is turning to be a busier day that first anticipated...
That said, I told myself I wasn't going to write about Flower this week. Honest. But, commenter Juaquin's thoughts got me thinking about Games Where You Don't Hurt Anything, which, in turn, reminded me of the only game-aside from Rock Band-my girlfriend's ever played for longer than five minutes.
Flower's beautiful in a way that video games don't often achieve. It puts a premium on pure experience. You never see a human being in the game and the game told its "story" through a series of wordless sequences, with nothing more than music and ambient sound to guide you. It's funny how its lack of violence got Flower dubbed as experimental, but its cleverness extended well beyond its absence of physical pain. It linked vibration, sound and visual change together to create vivid emotional responses. My girlfriend yelped with delight every time she brought a daisy to life in those first few levels. You eventually feel the effects of industrialization darkening the landscapes and other emotions well up as you continue riding the wind.
Those responses ties into what the game's creator Jenova Chen often talks about, which is how games need to broaden their emotional palette if they're to become a really mainstream artform. I'm eager to see what games-from producers big and small-follow its lead.