In addition to the similar games listed above, which have been linked to this game specifically in the database, you may find games with a similar theme to Dépanneur Nocturne in the following lists:
It can seem that all children do these days is stare at their screens and play video games. We worry about screen time and what the violence, addiction and gambling is doing to their brains.
However, along with screen time comes many other things we can celebrate. All kids do these days is talking to other. All kids do these days is learn the skills of rhetoric and debating. All kids do these days is develop their social confidence.
It sounds a little far fetched, but watching my kids play the new “hit” game Among Us
, I’ve realised these are exactly the sorts of things they are really developing when they are sat staring at their screens.
Here are some great examples where you need to talk, and talk intelligently and intelligibly, to do well in the game.
Games tell stories about people and places. This can be similar to books and films, offering snapshots, flashbacks and poignant scenes that form a life. Because we can explore the spaces where games happen, they can also tell stories by the things we find.
Games often use their character's possessions to tell us about them, as much as what they say or look like. Favourite toys, carefully written letters, hurried notes, pictures on the walls, dilapidated architecture, menus, vehicles, ticket stubs. The objects of our lives tell a story about who we are and what is happening to us.
Games like The Sims
or Animal Crossing
enable us to use possessions to create spaces that reflect the character we are playing. In
, we are given a prized camera and bird book from our grandparents to tell the story of their bond and trust.
Some games let us get to know characters solely through their possessions. In Unpacking
we spend hours placing and arranging someone's things, and as we do we get to know them (and their hopes, loves, losses and travels) deeply. In The Last of Us
we find people's notes and possessions abandoned. In this we find the story of a world in panic, but also of the people's lives before everything went wrong.
Other games use possessions as an important part of how we interact with the world. In Overboard
, for example, we need to use medication, ear rings and clothing to tell a story that the other characters in the world believe (one where we didn't murder our husband).
Finally, games use possessions sentimentally to connect us to the past of characters. In Hindsight
we are asked to decide which objects to keep and which to let go of. In Before I Forget
, possessions offer a gateway to our own fraying memories.
However games use these possessions to tell stories, it's always worth slowing down, noticing the objects we are rushing past and reading the literal and metaphorical notes about the world in which we are playing.
Jocelyn Brewer coined the phrase Digital Nutrition
to introduce a way of thinking about technology that went beyond screen time worries, drug analogies and detoxes. Instead, she encourages us to think about the variety, context and patterns of digital consumption.
"Digital Nutrition is a guilt-free philosophy that guides you towards healthful technology habits and improving your digital literacy and wellbeing. Rather than digital detoxing and unplugging, Digital Nutrition is about intentional and intelligent use of devices and the conscious consumption of news, media and information."
I’ve worked with her on this list of games that provide particularly underserved aspects of our digital play diet. These are the vitamins of the gaming world. Essential to a healthy diet and easy to overlook if we just follow where video game advertising leads us.
Unlike the other lists on the site, it’s an eclectic collection of games. But this is for good reason. These are the games that supplement your digital diet with variety, fibre, vitamins and minerals. They are the “digital super-foods” as Jocelyn puts it.
Digital Nutrition is a brilliant antidote to the guilt, muddled advice and finger-pointing of screen time focus advice. Instead, we can consider what specific games have to offer our children and our family.
This leads to other questions about how, where and when we play. Grabbing a Pizza on the street isn’t the same as sitting down to share a slice around the meal table. Only eating Kale is as problematic disordered eating as eating too many sweets. The same is true with video games, so this list is here to offer a varied diet.
In a culture that often assumes that the route to happiness is with another person, it can benefit us to acknowledge that being alone is not always a bad thing. We teamed up with Courtney Garcia’s Screen Therapy channel
to curate a list of games that give us a chance to experience being alone in different ways.
Garcia’s Screen Therapy
project employs Positive Media Psychology research to highlight and interpret meaningful experiences with games and movies. “With mindfulness, there are even more benefits to gain from intentional consumption of media,” she says, “games can be tools we use to recover or grow, psychologically, and our time with them isn't wasted if they provide us insights or rest we need.”
This list was inspired by the experience of playing the unusually solitary (and long) game The Longing
and the Twitter thread
that followed. In it, you spend 400 elapsed days waiting for the King to wake up and living at a slow pace. The other games offer their own lens on loneliness and solitary seasons of life. These games offer us insight into the benefits of appreciating time alone, such as opportunities for self-reflection, self-discovery, and the chance to curate enriching experiences or environments for ourselves.
Some of the games, like Never Alone
and The Long Dark
place you in a harsh environment that emphasises your diminutive size when faced with the expanse of nature. Other games in the list, like Thomas Was Alone
and Bird Alone
offer you the chance to reflect on friendship and the need to nurture relationships. Then there are games we included like Shadow of the Colossus
that let you get lost in the vastness of its landscape. Finally, a few of the games like The First Tree
invite you to make a connection to other players, once you have come to terms with a journey on your own.
In a world of technology, it’s easy to become disconnected or forgetful of the people we live with and the places we live in. Video games can be a part of this dislocation as screen time diminishes engagement with the real world. But they can also offer ways to reconnect with those around us and find a fresh (helpfully disruptive) perspective on our neighbourhoods.
This list has been created with the help of Cormac Russell
, Managing Director of Nurture Development. For 25 years Cormac has helped communities, agencies and governments solve urban and rural development problems not by focusing on the deficiencies of neighbourhoods, towns, villages but by understanding that people, their families and communities, have unique competencies in building community. As Cormac puts it. “Communities can’t know what they need from outside sources until they know what they have themselves internally. And we get this the wrong way round.”
The video games here offer a range of experiences that reshape and challenge our thinking in this direction:
Reimagine Space: Games like Eco and Terra Nil underline our relationship with the land. Not that we need to minimise harm, but that we need to understand our presence and impact so we can balance benefits ecologically.
Reimagine Community: Games like One Hour One Life invite us to contribute to a community for the benefit of future players. Others, like Pilgrims, invite us to understand the interrelated needs of a small community and then use their existing resources to meet these needs. Then there are games like Thousand Threads and Fable that shine a light on inter-related tensions in groups, where helping one person may negatively impact another.
Community Memory: Games like Heaven’s Vault, Treasures of the Aegean and Deep Time Walk illustrate the power of community memory and tradition, and how these things are lost (and recovered) through language.
Community Planning: Games like Mini Metro, Townscaper or Conduct Together put us in the role of planning transportation and provision as opposed to experts. Then there are games like Buildings Have Feelings Too, that disrupt the usual remote dispassionate planning of the lived environment by giving voice to it. Or games like Everything, that invite us to physically inhabit space in a massive range of bodies – from pollen to mountains, antelope to power pylons.
Another interesting voice on the intersection between play and place is Benjamin Stokes. His book, Locally Played, encourages us to “collaborate in the creation, deployment, and study of playful ways to build local connection and restore a critical sense of vitality and even possibility to our civic lives.”