How This Game Mirrored My Own Reconciliation With Trauma
is not about sexual assault, but it does ask us to think about how trauma changes the way we think about “home,” and how much of a struggle it is to make a new place yours. (As a heads up, to explain why that is, I’ll need to talk about the whole game, with spoilers.) It begins with a still of a traveler sailing through rough, stormy waters. The next scene, I see him lying on a snowy shore, his boat completely wrecked in the background. Shivering, he picks himself up, and I assume control. Just behind me is a small shack, and all around me are various resources I can collect.
As time passes, a health meter with a heart on one end and a snowflake on the other begins to diminish. If it drains completely, my character begins to shiver again, falling to the ground, only to wake up again without any of the resources I just acquired. I realize that I need to stay warm, but because there’s a hole in the roof, the rain repeatedly extinguishes the fire. So, I quickly build up my health meter as best I can, and run out for just enough supplies to repair the roof.
I figure out that I have to complete several of these repair processes around my shack before I can finally fix my boat and get off this arctic island. I think about me, standing in my new apartment for the first time, boxes stacked high around me, an air mattress on the floor. I was looking for an escape, and like my traveller friend, I crash landed somewhere unfamiliar. A new neighborhood where I knew nothing and no one might as well have been a desolate tundra. Whenever I got home from the end of the day and saw the endless processes of unpacking, organizing, and putting away ahead of me, I just wanted to curl up on my air mattress and go the fuck to sleep.
In the game, I complete each step needed to survive here. In real life, I do the same. In the game, I fashion the hay on the floor into a bed. In real life, I order an actual mattress, this time filled with foam instead of air. In the game, I tell myself the monotony of collecting and repair will be worth it just to leave this place for somewhere better. In real life, I tell myself I have to make it just livable enough, just until I can leave this place for somewhere better.
These processes were just supposed to be a means to a greater end. But slowly, something shifts in my feelings. Instead of simply fixing something, one of the “repair” steps I take in the game results in me laying out a pretty rug. And this is familiar, too. One day, after I get home from work, I unpack some small trinkets that once decorated the shelves of my past apartment. Useless, unnecessary to “survive,” but now they make me smile when I see them on my new dresser. Slowly, this new place has begun to bring me more comfort than my last apartment ever did.
Eventually, I complete all the steps needed to fix my boat. After I deliver the last set of resources I need to the crash site, the game gives me two pictures to choose from: one of my shack and one of my boat. I didn’t mean to come here. Crashing on this island, I’m assuming, wasn’t in my traveller’s plans. I never wanted to leave my last apartment. Moving to this new place wasn’t in my plans. My mouse hovered over the boat option.
But then, I thought about the pretty rug I had laid out in my shack, and the little burst of happiness it brought me. I thought about the little trinkets on the top of my dresser, and how they make me smile when I pick out something to wear in morning. My mouse moves to the picture of the shack, and I click.
Source : Natalie Watson Link