Featured Games
for 
Gaming to Know You

During the Gaming to Know You workshop, students will analyze selections from and play through several critically-acclaimed independent games (i.e., indie games). These games are drawn from a wide variety of genres, from text adventures to walking simulators, but have many things in common. In particular, they have been chosen for their innovative approaches to interactive storytelling, their powerful facilitation of empathy, and their exploration of identities that are infrequently depicted in mainstream Triple-A games (i.e., AAA games). 


The games presented on this page are just a few of the many games that will be featured during the Gaming to Know You workshop. Just like the classic literature that students will read during their time in high school, such as The Grapes of Wrath and All Quiet on the Western Front, many of the games featured in Gaming to Know You deal with difficult themes and subject matter, including race, class, gender and sexuality, violence and warfare, and mental illness. These games have been carefully curated and are appropriate for the ninth-grade participants of Gaming to Know You. 

Depression Quest

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Depression Quest (2013), is an interactive fiction game where you play as a person living with depression. While it is certainly not “fun” in the traditional sense, Depression Quest is a compelling and deeply personal experience that challenges the popular conception of what a game can be. As stated on its website, Depression Quest “aims to show other sufferers of depression that they are not alone in their feelings, and to illustrate to people who may not understand the illness the depths of what it can do to people.” Apart from the value of its message and its innovative use of procedural rhetoric, Depression Quest is also an important piece of media due to its place in the history of gaming.

Diaries of a Spaceport Janitor

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Diaries of a Spaceport Janitor (2016) is an “anti-adventure game” that explores the lives of marginalized, working-class people in a science-fantasy setting. Rather than being a heroic space adventurer, the player takes on a role that would normally be left to NPCs (“non-player characters”) in more traditional games: a janitor who struggles to earn a living cleaning up after the people who can actually afford to go on space adventures. Through its thoughtful gameplay and worldbuilding, Diaries of a Spaceport Janitor constructs a “reverse-power fantasy” without falling into the trap of being an exploitative “poverty-simulator.” Diaries of a Spaceport Janitor has received critical praise and won IndieCade’s “Story/World Design Award” in 2016.

Florence

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Florence (2018) is an interactive fiction game that tells the story of 25-year-old Florence Yeoh. While the game primarily focuses on Florence’s dream of becoming an artist and her romantic relationship with a young musician named Krish, it also deals with other aspects of her life that would be relatable to many young people today, such as working at an unfulfilling job, failing to meet parental expectations, and struggling to find meaning and emotional connections over social media. What makes Florence really stand out ‒ apart from its beautiful art-style and music ‒ is that rather than relying on traditional narrative techniques, the game constructs an engaging story through minigames and uses puzzle mechanics as metaphors for Florence Yeoh’s lived experiences. Since its release, Florence has received critical praise and many awards, including “Best Debut” and “Best Mobile Game” from the 2019 Game Developers Choice Awards.

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Gone Home

Gone Home (2013) is a first-person exploration game set in 1995 where players take on the role of Katie Greenbriar, a young woman who has come home from a year overseas to the new house that her family has moved into while she was away. Katie’s family, however, is nowhere to be found, so players must explore the house and discover what exactly has happened to her parents and ‒ especially ‒ her younger sister Sam. Gone Home is widely considered to be one of the best examples of environmental storytelling in games and has received critical praise for both its environmental design and its positive LGBT themes. It was named Polygon’s "Game of the Year" for 2013 and was nominated for several categories at the 2014 Game Developers Choice Awards.

Journey

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Journey (2012) is a moving adventure game that tells a wordless story almost entirely through its gameplay, stunning visuals, and powerful music. The ultimate goal of the game’s titular journey is a distant mountain rising above the various landscapes that players will travel through before finally reaching and scaling the slopes of the mountain itself. Modeled after Joseph Campbell’s monomyth theory of narrative (i.e., the “hero’s journey”) and designed to reflect the stages of human life, Journey presents an emotional story for players of all ages. Journey has received nearly universal critical praise, won several “Game of the Year” awards, and was even nominated for “Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media” at the 2013 Grammy Awards.

Life is Strange

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Blurb to come.

Mission US: For Crown or Colony?

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Blurb to come.

Never Alone (Kisima Inŋitchuŋa)

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Blurb to come.

Papers, Please

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Blurb to come.

That Dragon, Cancer

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Blurb to come.

This War of Mine

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Blurb to come.