This new approach to gaming entices critics that’s designed to battle human nature

By Nadine Halili | Art by Saii Shah | Source image by Julia M Cameron

When playing video games, the goal is  to simply play, fight and win. We have become familiar with competition and cooperation in multiplayer games that interactions all too often include insults, particularly when we’re on the losing end. This unfortunately poses negative psychological effects like addiction, depression and aggression, especially among younger players

So the thrust of Thatgamecompany’s new release Sky: Children of the Light is nothing short of impressive. Highlighting encouragement and cooperation among players, Sky is an open world game where players have the freedom to explore the virtual world with nary a linear objective or structure to complete it. 

Open world gaming promotes creative thinking because you can craft your own character and figure out how to finish the game on your own. Sky literally drops players in the dark to restore fallen constellations to bring back light to this world. Although you can go on a solo flight, Sky encourages players to help each other out through sharing lights and hearts that make them progress through the game.

What sets Sky apart from other regular console and mobile games is the thrill behind shaping your own adventure at your own pace. It also encourages positive social interactions like joining hands to fly and lighting candles together to unlock hidden puzzles. Jenova Chen, also the creator of Journey, explains that he wanted to create a game that would build a friendly community—one without obscenities and insults. 

“We also have to make sure the social dynamics don’t become hostile,” Chen tells The Verge. “We want this to be a friendly experience… we designed so many things to battle against human nature, to keep this world friendly.”

Game critics have deemed Sky as “screenshot worthy” for its tranquil visuals such as the clouds and the soft glow that emanates from when your character lights up. While players can explore the realms and figure out the evolving story on their own, players can interact with one another through “hugs,” and “high fives.” Critics have lauded these features, saying they’re quite emotional and meditative for a mobile game with evocative visuals and a soaring musical score.

Winning the hearts of iOS users in 2019, Sky was named 2019’s best iPhone game by Apple. Aside from promoting friendship and cooperation, Sky is particularly appealing to beginners because of its simple gameplay, slick graphics and intelligent storytelling.

Sky is now available on both Apple and Android for free, with talks of releasing a version for the Nintendo Switch in the summer of 2020.

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