Level One: Loneliness
September 5, 2018
Being by yourself is a feeling that everyone is familiar with, especially in college. Whether it’s lying awake in a dorm room halfway across the country or the 20 minute commute some take to get to the college across town, there are times when people are alone. Being by yourself is not always a bad thing, but there is a fine line between a depressing loneliness and thoughtful solitude.
With video games becoming more and more like art, they are able to replicate the feelings we go through on a daily basis. Being alone in a video game is not a new concept, but it’s been shown so many different ways that it covers just about all aspects of being by yourself.
Limbo is a 2-D puzzle platformer released by Playdead in 2010. It starts with the main character waking up alone in a forest. The entire game is colored in a mix of grayscale, giving out an eerie vibe merely seconds into the playthrough. The forest represents one’s own thoughts of darkness and depression, creating a sense of loneliness. The goal of the game is to get through the gauntlet of deadly puzzles to find the protagonist’s missing sister. This is a representation of that no matter the struggle, there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Shadow of the Colossus makes the player feel small and lonesome by throwing them in an entirely new environment. Armed with only a sword and a horse, the main character is tasked with slaying 16 colossal monsters. With no other character to talk to, the only company of the game is the lulling music and beautiful scenery. Having no one to talk to doesn’t always feel lonely to some players; instead, it allows the player to think about their actions on both a literal and moral level.
As silly as it sounds, Minecraft is also a game with a heavy focus on being alone. While the previous games attached a negative connotation to it, being alone is welcoming in Minecraft. The player is free to shape and morph the world around them as they see fit. With no one else to mar the beauty of the players world, it’s incredibly inviting to sit down and spend some time creating whatever they imagine. Solitude is a good way to get away from the stress of the world.
Beginning college can make anyone feel small in the new environment they have been thrown into. Shifting from a high school mindset to a college one can often emphasize such loneliness. Much like these games, taking time to gather one’s thoughts alone and putting on relaxing music is a great way to get a handle on your new environment.