There are some games out there that feel like enlightening spiritual achievements. They transcend the genre and illuminate lives for the players in just the way that no other medium can. Take Journey, for instance. Beautiful, subtle and endlessly enigmatic. What sort of game more accurately reflects the core of true belief?
Yeah, even considering all that, it still surprises me to report that Journey has been used as part of a Cathedral Service in Exeter, United Kingdom, and all suggestions are that the endeavor proved to be quite the success.
This religious experiment acts as a spiritual successor to a previous incorporation of a PS3 game into an Exeter Cathedral service, the prior thatgamecompany production, Flower. During the Flower service, the game was played on screens displayed to the congregation as a controller was passed around for the audience to experience the act of collecting petals firsthand. The theme of the service was creation and the interactive element of the proceedings was well received. Event contributor Andy Robertson went on to write that “There was very little shock or oddness to the whole affair. In fact it felt as this was the most natural thing in the world to be doing.”
Having determined that the integration of Flower provided a substantial and authentically spiritual experience for those in attendance the Exeter Cathedral clergy were eager to see if the experience could be replicated or expanded upon. With an upcoming service focusing on mountaintop moments and transfiguration, Robertson returned to the fold suggesting the PSN critical darling Journey. Despite his initial reservations about utilizing yet another a second thatgamecompany title, the nature of the decided themes were too appropriate to deny and steps were taken to try the experiment once again.
Having labored over connecting the abstract multiplayer title to the internet within a Cathedral the project began and expecting a replication of earlier results, Robertson wrote of the Journey experience “There was a real thrill of something new seeing another person arrive in our game and gesture which way we should go, or to keep running back to make sure we were alright when we didn’t progress as fast as them.”
Many critics have noted the mature but not exploitative nature of thatgamecompany’s titles and these experiences certainly back such assessments up. It’s unlikely that the company ever intended to have their games attributed to genuine religious association but for the people at the Exeter Cathedral, these games have proved to be remarkably important in re-affirming or expressing their faith. This is the sort of impressive forward motion that game lovers should all be able to appreciate, regardless of faith or creed.