Pranav Gopan – Indie Game (Loved)

by | Nov 13, 2019 | Show & Tell

In almost all video games, players have to follow a set of rules or instructions. If they deviate from them, chances are, they will lose the game. Loved, however, is a unique exception. An indie platformer game made by Alexander Ocias, Loved begins with the question, “Are you a man, or a woman?” If you choose man, the game will respond, “No, you are a girl.” If you choose woman, it will tell you, “No, you are a boy.” Following this, the game asks if you need instructions to play. If you respond no, it will tell you that you will fail. From the start, you will understand that the narrator does not want your best interest. The platformer part of the game soon begins and the narrator’s text will occasionally reappear on the screen. Here is where the game gets truly interesting. The game world is black and white, with minimalistic art and eerie music playing in the background. Often, the narrator will tell you to do a certain task, such as touch a statue or take a certain path. If you listen to the narrator’s instructions, the game world will change into a detailed version of itself. The narrator will hauntingly tell you that you’re doing a good job. On the other hand, if you refuse to listen to the narrator, the game world becomes more colorful. The narrator will try to demean you each time you do, but it might be better to simply ignore it. The game is very short. It takes 5-10 minutes to complete one run-through. Depending on how you play (listening or refusing the narrator), the game will give you a different ending. If you consistently listen to the narrator, in the end, the narrator will tell you that it loved you. If you refuse frequently, it will ask why you hated the narrator. Though there are several interpretations for it, Loved is meant to be a game about dealing with abusive relationships. The narrator’s text can represent inner thoughts that stop us from achieving our potential. It wants you to follow a set path and not deviate it from it at all. Each time you do, it scolds and demeans you. It can also describe an abusive partner that forces you to act a certain way. When you beat the game by refusing, the narrator is clearly hurt, showing a personal connection to the player. By the end, you might have feelings of guilt, despite the narrator’s clear desire for control. Overall, Loved is an experience that comes with a bag of mixed emotions. Though short, it is thought-provoking and leaves you to question what it means to truly love another individual and yourself.