I recently received an email, directed to our company, that I feel I need to share with the world, and especially with the game development world. This email, which I was given permission to quote below, is the proof that games can truly make a difference, and I personally think that it gives our craft meaning and purpose.
Before getting into it, I should stress something; our game is not a serious game. It's not a game that tries to convey a deep message, and not a game with a moral mission. It's silly, it's fun, it's ridiculous, and it involves animals building traps for each other, jumping around levels that they've built themselves, and occasionally getting hit by crossbows and spinning saws.
I'll share with you the message, with the name switched up for anonymity:
"My husband bought Ultimate Chicken Horse at PAX East this year, and I wanted to relate to you a story about my son (Jake).
He's nine and been having a lot of trouble in school / socially because of his Aspergers / anxiety diagnoses. He has an in-home behavioral therapist (that he kind of hates) and a whole bunch of other support, but there is just something about your game that has really opened him up. He plays it with EVERYONE who comes to our house. It has allowed his therapist to reach him because they've bonded playing the game together. The neighborhood kids come over and play with him and he has really socially progressed and started to make some good connections with his peers-- all because of your game!
There is something about the mix of cooperation, building, competition, and random chance that's just reached him in a way that other games (like Minecraft) haven't.
Anyway, I just thought you'd like to hear about the little way your game is making a big difference in Jake's life."
This. This is it. This is what gives our careers meaning. This is what proves to me that games are so much more than what the majority of the world thinks they are, and this shows that even unintentionally, games have the power to change the course of people's lives.
I love my job, and I love coming to work every day to do what I enjoy doing. But knowing that our game can have this profound of an effect on a nine-year old boy magnifies that love and gives it meaning. I thought I'd share this tidbit with the world and I hope that you realize that games, your games (if you're in this industry), even the silly ones, can be strong agents for change.
Feel free to share similar experiences in the comments below :)