So first, let me define slow here: Long games != slow. For example I would not argue RDR2, despite its length, is a slow game. I also don't mean slow narrative or games that require lots of grinding(MMOs for example).
Meaningful, which is obviously subject, is difficult to pinpoint because imo you can make arguments for a whole wide range of games. But I'll get to this a bit later.
To help define it I would like to compare it to "slow" cinema. I'm a huge fan of movies and even moreso of cinematography, specifically slow cinematography (Tarkovsky, Tarr, recent examples: Roma, Burning, Monos) and one common theme I love in slow cinema is the poetic side of it. The slowness isn't just for show it lets the atmosphere breath, sucks you in, is meditative in a way, it's very careful with every frame and every line. So, I started thinking about whether it's possible to translate these qualities to video games.
The major difference between film and video games is obviously the interactive portion. With movies, specifically slow ones, you sit back and let the movie absorb you in. In video games, you're more active and as a result need more "rewards" for a lack of a better term. Essentially, it's easier for a movie to be slow because the audience isn't doing anything but watching. Often times people complain about cutscenes being too long and breaking up the action of games (the difficulty of pacing narrative video games is severely underappreciated).
No doubt, just like slow cinema, slow games are a rather niche subsection. Off the top of my head I can think of some obvious answers: Journey, Inside, the entire "walking simulator" genre, No Man Sky, Stardew Valley, even Minecraft, and if you want to loosen my definition a bit I'd include Death Stranding, Nier Automata, maybe even some of the silent hill games. Again, there's plenty of arguments for other games. You could even argue TLOU 1 & 2 imo due to the fact that it fits the "meaningful" definition, but I'd argue it's not that slow.
But here I want to split the definition a bit even more with relaxing vs "depth/meaning". Not to say one can't have both, but bare with me. Of the ones I listed above, the purely relaxing ones are definitely Minecraft, Stardew Valley, No Man Sky. That's a whole subgenre of video games people play to relax, but if we go back to the comparison with slow cinema, it's often worth noting a lot of those movies are sometimes difficult watches and quite the opposite of relaxing.
And finally we shrink the definition to include Death Stranding and other walking simulators (and probably many more other games that I can't remember) as the more meaningful games. But my question is: Are walking simulators really the only type that fit this? Will we one day see more AAA game releases that break conventions(the conventions of AAA games, not the entire industry) such as Death Stranding?
The Indie world is the obvious answer for this. These game don't make much money and pouring big bucks into them is a risk they're not willing to take and I fear that there's a whole section within video games that's completely unexplored.
Writing this I realize it's rather pretentious haha, but hopefully what I'm pointing at makes sense. I'd like to open a discussion on more "art-house" (again, for a lack of a better term) video games. Ones that have deeper meaning and break conventions of a lot of modern AAA games.
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