how boat trips give games a narrative respite •

I was recently asked to write a political article. It was almost a rant, especially since my exhaustion was similar to how I felt at the end of 2015. When a certain party leader was about to be elected here in the UK, and my family’s safety was “threatened”I was bored of working for a political magazine in London. I touted my “I’m a tourist” line to colleagues and decided to get on a London Eye pod (iPod?) This weekend. However, the ferry ride afterwards turned out to be the respite I was really looking for.

The weather was reasonably sunny and, unsurprisingly, most of the passengers were foreign visitors. As well as absorbing the occasional facts and facts of the overly energetic tour guide through their microphone, my main focus was on muffling the noise with the help of Jack Johnson and other mellow tones. (I blame this for having had to babysit my nephew several months earlier, who was very fond of the Curious George movie.) I wouldn’t say I was alone at the time, as I ended up making friends in over the following weeks and months, but I was glad I had had a natural moment of reflection that was not entirely self-centered.

In recent years, I’ve noticed that many games include footage on boats to provide equally calm and thoughtful moments for their stories and characters. The sucker has to be Alan Wake, as there are only a few lines of dialogue, mostly ignoring the eponymous character being a tormented writer suffering from writer’s block. What Remains of Edith Finch’s first ride, meanwhile, plays a wonderful trick using a journal to dive directly into the beautiful and mysterious history of the Finch family.

Oxenfree is a remarkable game that avoids any moment of subtlety or atmospheric calm. As Alex, you make your way to the fictional island of Edwards with a friend and your new half-brother, only to find yourself in the middle of a supernatural adventure. During the ferry ride there, you barely get a chance to think for yourself, as you find yourself asking questions and being drawn into other people’s conversations. It’s a brilliant game because the world and its characters continue to exist even if you stop for a moment. It made me realize how little we think about when we sometimes converse with others, as our spontaneous statements cannot be intentionally delayed like text messages and emails.

While Kentucky Route Zero doesn’t really have characters and dialogue that you will gladly ignore like in Oxenfree, there is a sequence in act four that almost takes off outside the boat, letting you read the conversations that take place. unfold between the different characters. And while they all get on and off during this part of the game, much of the dialogue never directly addresses what’s going on on board.

This is in stark contrast to what Kai experiences at the start of Mutazione. After hugging her mother, she examines the letter that catalyzes her journey to the bizarre mutant community where her grandfather lives, hoping to be reconciled and hear wise words before his death. After some sarcastic back-and-forth with the Captain, she experiences the first of many unusual and incoherent dreams she will eventually experience, offering potential foresight into the mysteries of the island she is visiting. Ironically, this ends up making the boat the last stopover of normalcy, a haven of peace before arriving in a wildly unknown world.

The only game that truly embraces the no man’s land (sea, yes) status of a safe, contemplative boat ride is Tell Me Why. Siblings Tyler and Alyson, who had reunited shortly before, take advantage of their time on the ferry to talk a bit about the past, share what they each want to do in life, and observe the environment that surrounds them. surrounded.


I’ve been passively watching old episodes of Grey’s Anatomy over the past few weeks, realizing that I’m a bit like Derek Shepherd thanks to his love for ferries. Of course, I have to state that I’m not sure I ever had the mental capacity to be a neurosurgeon, especially since I wanted to be a doctor at some point, as being a writer usually means worrying mentally about what words to use. and from where, a much less productive role in society than fixing people’s brains. And while I haven’t been following the show in recent years, I’ve been amused to see how it’s played out on screens since I was barely a teenager, a weird and much-needed constant in our world today.

Looking back, those few weekend boat rides on the Thames were such a relief and provided so much calm. It was probably because I was scared, I wasn’t sure where my life was going like the characters in Tell Me Why, or Kai in Mutazione, too focused on trying to impress others in my first writing job. But really, I still don’t know where I’m going sometimes. I think that nostalgia might hamper the usefulness of a ferry ride today, but I’m still looking for a way to take a break from everything around me. Sometimes games alone aren’t the answer, but they end up reminding us of what we value most in life, even as our travels get precarious and unexpected.

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