The Intelligame Game Club is a chance for Intelligame community members to learn and share with each other about a specific game each month. September’s game was To The Moon; October’s game is Firewatch.
Book clubs are a great way to build community and share thoughtful discussion. When a diverse group of people share discussion of a single source material, they inevitably teach each other something. When talking politics, people tend not to cite the same sources: we all consult different journalists, outlets, critics with our own viewpoints. In a book club though, everyone draws from the same source material: the book. They use their own lenses to experience the book individually, then they can share those views with others later. If we can do it for books, why not do it for games, too?
This past month was the first meeting of the Intelligame Game Club (or, the IGGC, for short). A sort of mini-launch targeted at people supporting Intelligame on Patreon, we played an old “classic:” To The Moon. A narrative adventure created using RPG Maker, the game’s been heralded as a masterful, heartwarming story. It’s event got an “Overwhelmingly Positive” average review on Steam, with over 22,000 reviews. When I played it myself, I wasn’t a big fan of the characterization of the game’s black female protagonist, Dr. Eva Rosalene. She came off cold and antagonistic, stereotypical roles for black women in media. Aside from that though, I felt impressed with the game. I even teared up at the ending, a touching resolution to a complex and emotional story.
This was not how UnseenAcademical, one of the Intelligame moderators, saw the game. To the Moon deals with themes of mental health, particularly centering on relationships between the neurotypical and those considered “atypical.” Bringing his experience as a person on the autism spectrum to the game, he saw implications in some of To the Moon’s messages that I’d completely missed. Similarly, he’d missed the stereotypes of Rosalene’s character. We might’ve never known about each other’s viewpoints if we didn’t have the chance to discuss them in the same room (virtually).
It’s hard to realize just how much of ourselves we bring into analysis until we talk with someone else who came to different conclusions. This wasn’t a question of someone having false information or being misled; our gaps were simply consequences of our limited life experiences. Considering how much of a topic mental health (and autism in particular) is for the game, having UnseenAcademical on the stream was a boon. I’m hoping the IGGC has more great discussions like these in the future.
The Intelligame Game Club’s mission is to bring IG community members together to share discussion about a different game each month. The selection should:
- Provide opportunity to discuss life, society, politics, or other relevant topics
- Be able to be completed with low-to-medium “gaming skill”
- Be affordable to the community (ideally <$20)
October’s Intelligame Game Club selection is a personal favorite of mine, a first-person narrative adventure taking us through the Shoshone National Forest. Campo Santo’s Firewatch was a breakout hit in early 2016, and I even featured it as the first game during the Intelligame Extra Life Marathon last year. It’s an important game, dealing with love, loss, temptation, and self-discovery. It’s also gorgeous, a park in the middle of nowhere that feels fully free to explore on your own. Even with the multiple discussions I’ve had about it, though, I know I’ve missed pieces along the way. I’m hoping the Intelligame community will help fill in some of those gaps.
The Intelligame Game Club’s next meeting is October 25th, 2017 from 6-8p PDT. If you want to join in the discussion live, you can back Intelligame on Patreon; $5/month gives you access to the special “#game-club” Discord chat channels, including the live discussion channel for the Twitch stream. Also, don’t forget that the Intelligame Discord, our special community chat server, is open to everyone just by clicking this link.