I’m going to be honest, I’ve been wanting to play Concrete Genie for a long time and when I saw it on the list of games from Games For Change, I got excited! The game was recently offered for free thanks to PlayStation Plus last month and it was immediately placed into my endless list of backlogged games. But now, I finally get to play it!
I’ve only played Concrete Genie for about an hour and some change and I was immediately drawn in by it’s premise / narrative. The game is about a boy named Ash who is constantly bullied by other kids but uses art as an escape. He discovers a magical paint brush that brings his drawings to life. He uses the power of the paint brush to draw “Genies” (the name of the creatures he draws) and solve puzzles. In the small hour and change that I’ve played of the game, it employs Ash’s conflicts with his newfound ability to create Genies to solve puzzles and combating bullies through some stealth mechanics.
From the time that I’ve played, one of the game’s main social messages will be about bullying. Bullying is a subjective I am all too familiar with. I appreciate it when developers tackle social issues, such as bullying, in their work. I’ve noticed a lot of games from the Games For Change that I’ve heard of, such as Gris, Dreams, Detroit: Become Human, and Gone Home. These games tackle social issues like grief and prejudice, especially Detroit: Become Human with it’s allegory of racism. Helen Nissenbaum and Mary Flanagan explain that “…existing games should be enhanced and diversified, or rather, that games should at least be developed in a way that they could include ethical ideals — or human values” (Page 2) which more and more games are tackling especially on the indie scene and I love to see it.
Link to Concrete Genie
Nisselbaum, Helen and Flanagan, Mary. “A Game Design Methodology to Incorporate Social Activist Themes”. 2007. PDF file.