In video games, we say “I died”.

Such a statement is impossible. The greatest of men and women quake at such a dark cloud, spending volumes and spinning their minds in loops avoiding the inevitable.

Thinking on this, I can’t find another activity where we’d think in such a way, until video games came along.  Maybe in children’s make-believe games, like cops and robbers, where it is almost comedic and leaves one sad.  Or role-playing games, where it is a one-time disaster, hardly frequent or expected.  Maybe we got it from other media, where characters die all the time, but there is no “player” in books or movies.  Personal death is different.  Even without an avatar, going back to the old arcade machines, video game play says “I died”.  Frequently.

flower is an amazing video game.

It shows you can get great things from mechanics and visuals and sound, and those parts don’t have to be complicated.  Bringing back thoughts of Rez, flower is somehow totally different,  creating natural spaces that flow and yet drift at the same time.  Where Rez was techno, flower is melodic piano.  Where Rez is wireframe, flower is bright blocky organic shapes reminiscent of watercolors.  Where Rez was teen age, flower is childhood.  Where Rez was death, flower is life.  flower’s details stand out, its simplicity and vividness demanding attention, if not seriousness.

The wind trails guiding you down a path, the player generated dynamic music, different color flowers doing different things, the length of your flower trail, the bloom balls that scatter at my touch.  I wanted to believe each was doing something. As far as I can tell, they weren’t, but it didn’t matter.  I was playing with them, and I could imagine.  flower made me want to believe.  It compelled me to.  It is no more skill-oriented or educational then any other game.  But it is a different mindset of play, maybe a more hopeful, better mindset to immerse ourselves in.  Where hardship gets danced around and busted through, rather then confronted and glorified in.

There is no way to say “I die”.  flower is a depiction of a different gaming past and a different gaming future.  One can be the wind.  One can live.  Watch me soar.

Happy Valentine’s Day.  A perfect gift for all of us video game lovers.


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