Games that Embody an Emotional Experience

As part of a project-in-progress, I’ve been gathering examples of various types of serious games.

As a start, here is an informal list of games whose purpose seems less about uncovering a winning strategy and more about embodying a particular emotional experience. All of the games listed below are available online to play for free.

To me, what makes many of these games powerful (and at times, heartbreaking) is that you have to step into the role of a struggling person and make difficult decisions.


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Papers Please

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Often, the most impactful moment is seeing the options and choices that you aren’t given. In Depression Quest, this is done explicitly; while you see the decisions that someone who wasn’t depressed might make, you can’t actually select them.

Depression Quest

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Some other games are less about real world decisions and instead abstract representations of difficult situations.


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Finally, even though some might not classify it as a game, I found Dys4ia a very powerful interactive story-telling mechanism that was focused on a particular individual’s story.


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What other games have you seen that focus less on strategy and more on emotionally evocative experiences?