Gorogoa is a puzzle game that uses simple mechanics and profoundly efficient world-building to make a unique and complex gameplay experience.
In Gorogoa you control up to three square panels, like windows into different locations and eras of another world. You can switch the positions of these beautiful panels and explore some interesting vistas as you figure out the otherworldly logic of the game.
Why Is Gorogoa Important
Of course, Gorogoa is important to the progress of video game development. The designer of Gorogoa, Jason Roberts, has shown gamers and developers a new kind of gaming experience that the art form of games could learn from.
As an experience, Gorogoa offers a lot. We get some meaningful practice with curiosity. Like with most puzzle games (though Gorogoa is certainly not like most puzzle games), we exercise our curiosity for solutions and for digesting lots of detail. Curiosity is an important skill (useful in many areas of life) that we intuitively want lots of practice with (think of all the puzzle games). However, Gorogoa inspires something else in us that is far more elusive and possibly far more valuable:
We, as gamers and developers, could learn from Gorogoa the importance of quiet and contemplative awe.
The first time you play this game you can be struck quite quickly with awe. We are surprised by the puzzles, how they can be so difficult to solve, but feel quite simple and natural in the end. We are struck by the depth of the world we catch glimpses of in the window-like panels. We are entranced by how deeply beautiful the design, music, tone, and overall experience is.
Reaching the conclusion of the game, little is explained to us, but we feel moved by the strange, morose, and gorgeous journey we took through alien deserts, cities, and ruins to get there.
There is also a layer of religiosity in Gorogoa. The boy we are (somehow) both following and guiding through each puzzle and his connection with what seems to be a divine beast – born from no culture of our world – seems to have something to do with an equally mysterious and magnificent god.
No spoilers, but the careful sound design and world-building in Gorogoa – its themes of human frailty and seemingly indifferent divinity – can stir awake, somewhere in our core, our sleeping dread and wonder for the great beyond.
In short, Gorogoa offers us a meaningful dosage of awe.
Awe is an important experience we need every so often. It is something art has always been trying to inspire; from cathedrals, to impressive Sublime landscapes, to movies, and now in video games.
Awe is important because it is the widening of our perspectives to contemplate the grand mystery of beauty, the world, and our small, fragile place in it. This perspective is useful for contemplating and processing the realistic scale of our lives and our woes. Even if we’re looking at another world in Gorogoa, with gods and creatures we don’t know, we are still inspired by the boy’s journey through the strange and daunting beauty of the game to think about very large (and useful) questions as we fiddle with the panels to progress further.
Hopefully, with Gorogoa’s burst in popularity, we will see ripples of inspiration through the game market so that we might have access to more interactive art that challenges us to think deeply and curiously.
Thank you for reading!
This blog, Screen Therapy, is dedicated to exploring how we can mindfully use the time we already spend on games and movies to strengthen our emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is crucial when we face the everyday stresses and anxieties we all endure (such as the fear of death, how to develop the skills for loving relationships, or learning how to cope with just how difficult life feels, etc.)
We receive very little formal education or help in processing these difficult challenges, but by strengthening our self-knowledge and emotional intelligence through art and culture we can better pursue our personal balance.