Today is the day where we celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the famous activist who did a great deal for the civil rights movement in the United States. Many remember Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech, but the man was much more than just that moment, leading boycotts and protests against racial segregation across the United States. He was a figure that preached tolerance and brotherhood, but also a man fought hard for the freedom of his people. (If you're interested in this side of the man, I recommend reading Dr. King's Letter from Birmingham Jail in addition to the full text of the I Have a Dream speech.)
USgamer is about games though, so I'm offering up a few games that you can play on this holiday honoring Martin Luther King Jr. These are games you can play together, games that explore perspectives outside of our norm, or even games that impart a sense of understanding for your fellow man. These are titles that should bring us closer together, not farther apart.
Header image by Pete Fecteau.
Never Alone is a game that draws on the experiences and stories of Alaskan Natives, which I'd hazard is a culture many have never explored. It's a fable rarely heard by many told in a subtle fashion, with Iñupiaq girl Nuna and her arctic fox companion working together to survive the harsh winter landscape. Stylized and meaningful, Never Alone is worth a playthrough.
Sometimes to understand man, you have to step outside of humanity and experience the machine. Portal 2 in co-op mode is all about working together to solve problems. Even if you hate each other, you're not getting to the end of the split-screen co-op without your partner. Learn to put aside your differences.
Though the game is not complete yet, the story of Broken Age involves two characters: potential sacrifice Vella and lonely interstellar passenger Shay. Slight spoilers here: both characters are seeing the same events from their own unique perspective and both want to be free, even though freedom means something different for each. It all comes together in the end of Episode 1 and we can look forward to the concluding part some time this year.
Thomas Was Alone
Mike Bithell's Thomas Was Alone is a game about friendship. Each of the unnamed colored shapes brings a different ability to the table, and only by utilizing all of them together can you complete the game; life metaphos ahoy! Thomas Was Alone is a minimalist title, but despite that, you'll find you have a strong emotional connection with every single character.
This small indie is one you won't find on Steam or other platforms, but it's still an important game to play. The title was made in RPG Maker VX and covers the daily life of a trans woman, creator Mattie Brice. It's about stepping into her shoes and living through the occurrences she lives through each day. Understand her by being her, if only for a little while. If Mainichi strikes a chord within you, you may also want to try Dys4ia.
This War of Mine
We frequently play at war in games like Call of Duty and Battlefield, but if you want to understand the real cost of war, start here. This War of Mine puts players in control of people trapped within a city held by hostile forces. Based on one man's experiences during the Bosnian War, it tries to show what happens to normal citizens when war comes to their doorstep. The sacrifices that real people have had to make during an occupation are on display here.
Papo and Yo
Another indie title, this time exploring the relationship of a young boy named Quico and his best friend, Monster. Both characters work together, but Monster can become a danger to everyone around him, including Quico, when he eats a poisonous frog. Papo and Yo is a metaphor for designer Vander Caballero's experiences growing up with his abusive, alcoholic father.
To truly understand love and empathy, you must also understand the depths of true hate. No game will teach you more about hate than playing any one of the Mario Party titles with your friends and loved ones. Mario Party will teach you about how people can become blinded and angry over even the smallest of slights. Trust me, when you boyfriend or girlfriend steals your star, you will understand rage and the feeling of injustice.