Did Blade Runner Predict VR Empathy Games?

Throughout my time reading Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? I caught myself thinking about the recently emerging empathy games genre , and here’s why.

 

Empathy games are games designed not to be fun, but to let “players” walk a mile in the shoes of people in difficult situations. The gameplay attempts to show people what it’s like to deal with challenging life circumstances they may be unaware of. In Depression Quest, you guide a clinically depressed protagonist through the doldrums of their seemingly hopeless life. In Cart Life a divorced mother operates a meager food cart to earn money so she doesn’t lose custody of her daughter. Papers, Please puts you in the boots of a border guard who faces the moral dilemma of where privacy ends and security begins. These games aren’t designed to have satisfying gameplay, but rather to help you empathize with the difficult existences other human beings face. It’s a small, niche genre, but it feels like the beginning of something of cultural importance. Sure, you can read stories or watch videos about suffering people, but video games offer developers the power to make you play out a day in their lives.  by Tim Turi