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'Flower' on PS3: Videogaming as stress ball

What do flowers dream about? The answer can be found in Flower, the new PlayStation 3 game that costs a mere $10 to download. Worth it? You betcha. Now, I’m no gaming aficionado, but it seems to me that Flower is a case study in how videogames can emotionally affect you. Playing the game is the equivalent of reading a Zen poem, chilling to classical music, and watching a Hayao Miyazaki movie – all at the same time! (Not that I’ve ever done those three things simultaneously before.)

The game’s concept is refreshingly simple (read: anyone can play). You begin in a somber urban apartment where a single flower sits on a windowsill. You are then whisked into that flower’s dream, which consists of gliding through majestic hills and pristine skies. The flower is controlled by using the PS3’s motion-sensitive controller; that is, you tilt and rotate the controller as you help your flower collect additional pedals and unlock new areas. It’s impossible to describe how calming and enriching the game feels – I could see it being used in a psychologist’s office! Of course, none of this may sound very appealing to those hardcore gamers who require rapid action, blood, and carnage, but casual players who just want to escape momentarily into another world will be thrilled. Calmly, of course.

The video below gives you a taste of Flower (be sure to watch it in high quality). What do you think? Have any of you already played it? Pretty cool, yes? And, PopWatchers, what other games also deliver a nearly spiritual sensation? The only ones that come to my mind are Ocarina of Time, Shadow of the Colossus, and Okami. What am I missing?

Originally posted February 25 2009 — 11:30 AM EST

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