Gaming, me, and a break up

A story about how Journey helped me heal after a pathetic night

I was lurking reddit these days and came across a very pretty screenshot from Journey, thatgamecompany’s highly awarded game from 2012. It made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, and it took me back to a moment in my life when I didn’t fully understand how powerful video games are as a medium, and how they have the potential to be truly life changing. Or, at least, to prevent us from drowning in a tub of Häagen Dasz in front of our cats.

It’s been almost 4 years since I first played Journey. Back in 2012 I read all these amazing stories about how Journey was an emotional experience, and how it made people think about the impact of technology and video games on our lives. I was interested and bought the game, but work kinda pushed me away from it for a couple of months, so it sat there on my PS3 dashboard for a while before I actually played it.

Now, I had just ended a relationship that had lasted 4 years, but I didn’t even know what “anxiety disorder” meant back then. I was having fun being single and going to clubs, and I didn’t want to deal with the emotional breakdown I had just been through, being on-again, off-again with my ex for a while and falling in love with the wrong people at the same time. The joys of being 22.

I was head over heels about this guy who seemed to be super interested at first, but when we met that night at a concert, his reaction to me was… “Meh”. We parted ways and I was left wondering why the hell my corset didn’t seal the deal for me that night. And then the post-break up blues got to me, finally. My friends gave me a ride back home, and it wasn’t even 1 am. The most awkward night out I had in a long time.

I was about to call it a night and crawl into bed with a tub of ice cream and my cats to cry and mourn over my recently deceased mojo when I decided to do what any girl should do in my situation: Boot the PlayStation up. I was on my way to kill people online, when I remembered I had just installed Journey and this would be as good a night as any to play it. And that, my friends, was when my night started to change. Journey was absolutely breathtaking.

If you know what I’m talking about, feel free to skip this paragraph. If you don’t, let me quickly explain how Journey works: You don’t choose who to play with, the game pairs you up with someone who’s playing at the same time as you. You can’t speak to each other except by pressing a button that sounds like “woo”. You don’t even know their name. You’re just there. You can part ways at any time, or you can finish the game together (which takes 2–3 hours). Also, being near another player recharges your ability to jump and float. “Wooing” too. How long you can float is determined by the length of your scarf, which is lengthened by picking up glowing scraps of cloth.

So, I heard a “woo”, and I found the other player very far from me, on a ledge. I was unable to reach that ledge, because this was my first play through. So the person dropped down from the ledge and started wooing and jumping. Looking up I noticed a glowing piece of cloth. And again, they jumped and wooed and jumped on top of me. Then they got back to the same spot. I took that as a sign to jump near the ledge. I did, and as I was jumping, the person wooed, allowing me to jump again, and finally reach the piece of cloth, increasing the length of my scarf by a bit. We celebrated.

We kept on wooing and jumping together throughout the game. They helped me get each and every piece of cloth I could. And we celebrated every time we reached a difficult place together. They showed me how to get achievements and how to hide from monsters. We survived a particularly difficult part together and drew hearts on the sand around each other, and I felt less alone.

But then we reached the snowy mountain, and the game pretty much strips you from your scarf at that point, but we marched on, side by side, powerless. That’s when my partner knelt down and… Faded away.

I was alone to face certain death, I didn’t know where to go, and at that moment I started crying, pathetically. Over the seriously overrated dude that rejected me and my corset earlier that night. Over the break up I forced on my partner after 4 years of a pretty good relationship because I was simply uncertain. Over how lost I felt at that moment, unsure of what I would do with my life. And over my friend, my guide, that had just disappeared into oblivion leaving me completely alone.

I finished the game by myself, and even after the triumphant ending I just couldn’t shake that feeling of loneliness. Because it was 3 am on a Saturday and I was alone with my cats playing a video game. The game eventually showed me the name of my partner during the credits, and not even that made me feel any better.

But then a notification appeared at the corner of my screen. And it read:

I’m so sorry to have left you at that mountain. My internet connection acted up and when I came back, you were gone. I finished the game by myself to send you this message and tell you I hope you liked it as much as I did. Sorry again.

And then I cried, one more time, because a game made me remember that great people are out there, people with hearts big enough to understand just how important it is to feel like you’re not alone.

Hi, I’m Lissa. I play games, push pixels and write sometimes. If you liked this story, please ❤ below and follow me! I promise I’m cool.