Updated: May 9
What's going on everyone?
Back in March, I attended a panel at Pax East about how psychologists utilize games to help their clients maintain their mental health. One point that stood out to me was the use of co-op games. Specifically, games that require players to work together. This made me think of Josef Fares; the creator of a recent co-op game A Way Out (2018). His first foray into creating video games was Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. You can find my lesson for Brothers here.
While Brothers is technically a single player game, the two playable characters are independently controlled by the two joysticks. After researching the game, I learned that some parents played the game with their children while sharing a single controller; each with one hand on the controller. I want my students to do the same. I have not actually taught this lesson yet, but it will be one of my Advisory class lessons next year.
Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons is a game about death. It is about how all of us will experience death at some point and quite often there is nothing we can do to stop its course. As the saying goes, death comes for us all. This game is perfect to get students talking about death and our own mortalities. Everyone goes through a period of their life where we feel invincible, but that facade shatters when someone we know and love ends up dying. All of a sudden, death is a reality and a very apparent part of our lives. This game, spoken in an entirely fabricated language, communicates to the players through body language. We physically see how the brothers support each other when dealing with regret, trauma, and PTSD. We feel what they feel. And by the end of the game, the class may be ready to talk about death on a personal level rather than something that happens to strangers we read about in class.
The gameplay focuses on solving fairly simple puzzles. You will never be stumped on how to accomplish a task. The challenge is that every task requires the two brothers to work together. The older brother is stronger and is able to lift or move heavy objects. The younger brother is smaller and can squeeze in between places his older brother cannot.
As I stated before, the game usually requires one person to control both brothers at the same time. For this lesson, however, two students will hold the controller together. This will allow each student to control one of the brothers. This image may make it easier to visualize. Each player only has three actions. The joystick will move their respective character. The trigger buttons will cause the brothers to interact with the environment, or person, and the bumper buttons rotate the camera. The simple control scheme will allow both players to be able to play with only one hand on the controller at a time. The students will need to communicate in order to progress through the game. This will be especially fun for my students since I teach at a school dedicated to English Language Learners. They will be forced to work cooperatively in a language that they are still in the process of learning.
I look forward to showing my students this game next year. I would love to set time aside this year in my Advisory class, but we are winding down to graduation and there are way too many things to get done before the the year ends. I hope you all find this game as compelling as I did.
Thanks for reading,