The mainstream often overlooks video games as powerful tools for positive change. Luckily, gamers have reached a point where their medium is more widely accepted as an art form. Like books, television, and film, video games serve as an effective vehicle for escapism. Storytelling in games have evolved in way that they provoke emotional responses from gamers. Most gamers would probably be lying if they told you they didn’t cry during key interactions with Clementine in Telltale’s “The Walking Dead,” or if they didn’t feel any sort of loss at the death of Aerith in “Final Fantasy VII.”
But unlike other forms of media, the interactivity of video games allows for responses that are unique to games. Emotion doesn’t have to be solely drawn from the script and voice performances alone. Instead, the world in which you control your character in can achieve the same effect. Friendships, rivalries, and entire communities can be formed from within video games. And most significantly, video games can be a powerful tool in supporting an individual’s mental health. As someone with anxiety, OCD, and depression, “Splatoon” has acted as a crutch.
“Splatoon” is Nintendo’s unique take on the multiplayer shooter genre, releasing in 2015 on the Wii U and followed up with a Nintendo Switch sequel very recently. This 4v4 frenzy substitutes gruff soldiers with squid kids, and bullets with ink. Rather than murdering every person they see, players instead cover the map with ink of their team’s color in the game’s basic mode. The team that covers the most of the map emerges victorious. If it sounds simple enough, well, that’s because it is. But while the gameplay may be simple, the experiences gained are deeper.