a portfolio of videogame writings
Escapism is an essential part of the human experience, and nowhere is it more powerful than within the creatively lucid minds of children. Literature and Cinema often tell tales of imagined adventures: from Alice’s tumble down the rabbit hole, to Ofelia’s ethereal visits from the faun during the Spanish Civil War. Yet surprisingly, videogames, as perhaps the 21st century’s most potent form of escapism, have rarely considered the power of a child’s imagination as a lens through which to tackle difficult subject matter.
Papo & Yo does just that, exploring designer Vander Caballero’s tumultuous relationship with his father through the interactions of child protagonist Quico and the quite literally named Monster.
Just as Alice’s hyperreal English rose garden setting was reflective of Carol’s Victorian England, Quico’s adventure takes place in a maze of tin-roofed shacks – a crumbling favela reflective of Caballero’s own Latin American roots. And this being Quico’s escapist imaginationland, his navigation of and interactions with it are often wondrously creative: Platforms of moveable cuboid shanties crawl around on miniature legs, strips of rock peel away exposing a glistening fruit-like flesh underneath the skin of the world, and luminous white chalk outlines keys, cogs and other environmentally interactive features.