I Found Meaning In a Video Game

A belated review of ‘Detroit Become Human’

Jacqueline Dooley
Grief Book Club
Published in
7 min readFeb 7


Still of Connor, one of the three main characters in Detroit Become Human. The image shows a close up of Connor’s face with a serious, almost thoughtful expression.
Connor, one of the three characters in Detroit Become Human — Source: IMDb

The recent ubiquity of AI in the news with all its inherent hopes and fears, reminded me that not all narratives depict AI technology as bad. In fact, sometimes humans are the assholes, manipulating technology within the context of consumerism, exploitation, abuse, and (ultimately) abandonment. At least, that’s how it plays out in one of my favorite video games of all time, Detroit Become Human.

Four years ago, I gave Detroit Become Human to my 14-year-old daughter for Christmas. We hadn’t played video games since her sister died two years prior. This was an attempt to resurrect our abandoned PS4 and perhaps make some new memories together.

The minute she started playing the game, I was hooked. Sitting beside her on the couch, with a half-read book forgotten on my lap, I stared at the TV screen, fixated.

If you’re used to reading reviews for video games, then brace yourself, this one’s going to be a little different.

First of all, I didn’t play the game at all. I watched my daughter play it, over the course of months, until she reached one of its many conclusions.

I didn’t pick up the controller once. I didn’t even fully understand how gameplay worked, but none of that mattered. I was completely riveted by the three main characters and their stories, rooting for all of them from the very beginning.

By all accounts, my review of Detroit Become Human, and my introduction to cinematic gaming, comes entirely too late. But, bear with me. As a nongamer, I’m somewhat oblivious to the latest advances in the gaming world.

Detroit Become Human was released in May 2018 and by then, Quantic Dream, the game’s creators, had already released Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls.

My daughter isn’t a huge gamer either. Our PS4 and Wii consoles sat untouched for nearly two years until she suddenly expressed an interest in them again. You see, she’d always played video games with her older sister, but her sister died in March 2017 after a protracted battle with cancer.

Thus, it was with some trepidation that I turned on both consoles after a particularly miserable week of winter weather. My…



Jacqueline Dooley
Grief Book Club

Essayist, content writer, bereaved parent. Bylines: Human Parts, GEN, Marker, OneZero, Washington Post, Al Jazeera, Pulse, HuffPost, Longreads, Modern Loss