Games can be more than mere entertainment. In our column Alt+Home, intermedia artist Kent Sheely explores the ways independent developers are challenging the status quo, creating brand new experiences, and making a difference in the world.
I don’t do a lot of driving. I’ve lived in New York City for the past six years, relying mostly on public transit, and haven’t spent a lot of time behind the wheel. However, I just finished moving all the way across the country to Los Angeles, a road trip that more than made up for that gap.
On long stretches of American highway I had a lot of time to reflect, and I thought quite a lot about games that simulate the experience of driving. There’s certainly no shortage of these, but most treat the vehicle and its occupant(s) as a single entity, as if the player were controlling an autonomous machine. In my own experience, it’s easy to focus my attention entirely on guiding a 7,500-pound vessel between the endless white lines, but simple actions like reaching for a strip of beef jerky or changing the radio make me acutely aware that in those moments I am effectively two entities.
A handful of games in recent years have explored this duality, challenging the player to consider both the vehicle and the driver within as individual elements.