And then there are games like Abzû, that show an ocean teeming with life. It's beautiful, but it's not real. If you've been to basically any British beach, or even watched a single episode of a documentary about the sea, you'll know that the actual ocean is often quite dull underneath that blanket of waves. It's very empty, punctuated by the occasional whale or lost clownfish.
But it would be lovely to see games that treated the ocean with the same terrified reverence as you can see in literature. The ocean is so often a metaphor for life: unpredictable, incomprehensively long, and full of things we can never know. But games, being a medium in its infancy (or adolescence, perhaps) is a few decades behind.Let me put it another way: Games are still very excited about outer space.Films have mostly done space. (They've now, apparently, moved on to personal relationships, only in space. See Arrival, Passengers, Interstellar.) But for games it's still quite exciting, because it's a way to reinvent slightly tired genres. Zombie games? Totally passé. Zombies in space? Sign me right up.Triple-A games love space. But it's the indie game community that is doing, in my opinion, the most interesting things with the setting. Games like Lifeless Planet, Orchids to Dusk and The Swapper all take place in space, but each does something unexpected, intimate and weird. They explore the fear of being far from home, of being powerless and alien, of having to use unfamiliar tools and geography to guide you. They tell of never being able to go home.
Why is it that developers are willing to tackle gigantic games that attempt to depict a whole galaxy or universe, but nobody's really trying to make the ocean?