Another Journey: A Reflection on Togetherness, Protection, and Crying on a Livestream
Last Saturday, March 11th, my roommate, Nico, and I took part in the Gaming for Good 24 hour livestream. This time, we were raising money for the American Civil Liberties Union, and we met our initial goal (We’re still taking donations till March 31st, however, if you still want to donate!).
A lot of things happened during Nico and my collective 9 hours of streaming. Nico played almost seven hours of Bloodborne. My cats managed to eject game discs out of the PS4 not once, but twice. We had a pretty active chat and lots of fun people to talk to while playing. I wowed the audience with my inability to put a piece of bread in a toaster (try playing I am Bread, you’ll see what I mean). We learned that if I’m to keep streaming, we really need to get a better microphone.
When we got to the last hour of our second “shift”, Nico was too tired to focus on playing Bread anymore, and some technical difficulties (read: I forgot to download the right game) led me to loading up Journey again. Technically this is a game on my “Don’t Stream” list (because I get very emotional when I play it) but I thought hey, I’m not going to beat it in an hour, so what’s the harm?
Famous last words.
I really didn’t intend to finish. As I said on stream, I do sometimes just load up Journey to play one level or two, to run in the sand and fly with the stingray carpet things and chirp around. I thought it’d be a good way to end our stream, just looking at beautiful visuals and listening to beautiful music and talking with each other. A bit of calm in this hectic world.
I kept apologizing to people who couldn’t hear me, the other Red Cloaks that were paired up with me, because I was just skittering around the levels, chatting away with my dedicated five viewers (one of which was NYMG’s very own Sam, who decided to stay with us even though she doesn’t care for Journey at all).
I didn’t intend to finish the game and I most certainly didn’t intend to play the level that I call “The Dark World”, the level with the creatures that always scares me. But, as I am sure you can tell with this set up, I did both.
I went through the Road of Trials, saw my favorite visual moment in the game (when the sun is setting and reflects through the pillars and washes you and the sand in beautiful gold as you glide past, and the music follows). And then I was washed in darkness and trying to figure out what game I could play for the last 20 minutes of the stream because I knew where I was and I wanted to stop.
But then a White Cloak walked in beside me.
The White Cloak got me through the Dark World in typical White Cloak fashion. They were patient, they were protective, and to me, they were kind. We didn’t stop and dawdle at any point (which was good, I wanted out of there fast), and yet they still lead me to scarf pieces and never left my side. At one point I started to panic and Nico said “You can do this. You have a White Cloak with you. You are safe.”
And I was. He was right. Even when I started to fall, at the end of the level, when you have to glide over the two robotic creatures that which to devour you, the White Cloak was there for me. They dropped down and did the little song command that recharged my scarf and got me to safety. When we landed, they wrapped their scarf around me and we watched the story.
And then they stayed, as I went forward. And I realized that that specific White Cloak, whoever they are, was playing only to guide people through the Dark World. Potentially, for some, the hardest and most stressful point of the game. A guiding, shining light through hardship, a beacon of protection.
I chirped as many times as I could, thank you thank you thank you, and decided to beat the game because of that. And so everyone on stream heard me start crying, because the end always makes me cry, but we beat it together. We went together.
Journey is an emotional experience. When I wrote about it before, I discussed how it’s co-op was ideal for someone who got very stressed out when playing with others. How the chirping from the Cloaks soothed my anxiety, if just for a moment, while I played. NYMG’s Ashley Barry has spoken of the emotions it creates in its silent storytelling, and delved into the language of the chirps. There is so much interlaced into this one game.
Journey is an emotional experience and every time I play it, I learn more about myself and others.I believe it means something different to everyone who plays it.
The game is built around co-op, and yet does not force anyone into a specific playing style. Do you just want to fly through the levels? Go for it. Do you want to marvel at the scenery and music? Go for it! Maybe you’ll have one Cloak with you the whole time. Maybe you’ll go through one a level. Maybe every level. You play this game together with many, but you ultimately play this game with yourself.
Yet, this game is built around togetherness. From the playful, cheerful chirping at the beginning, to the quiet, cold huddling at the end. The Cloaks journey together, even when alone.
This game also brings out protectiveness. Nico doesn’t like playing with others, and would prefer to play Journey solo. Because he goes in to seek calm, and when the other Cloaks are around, he wants to keep them safe. I feel the same. Especially as we climb the mountain in the end, as I huddle with the other Cloak and try to give them the last of my warmth. I whisper over and over don’t fall first, don’t fall first, even though both Cloaks will fall in the cold, even though it’s inevitable.
There is the concept seemingly built into the idea of a White Cloak. The ones who have beaten the game after finding all the scarf pieces and avoided getting caught by the creatures. I said on stream, and I meant it: typically when you perfect a game, it’s for yourself. But White Cloaks, in essence, are beating it for others. Because the belief is that if you’re a Red Cloak, you don’t know what you’re doing, and if you’re a White Cloak, you do. It was why I immediately felt safe when the White Cloak walked beside me in the Dark World. They are the guides, the protectors, and when you don the white and gold mantle, you’re there to keep others safe.
To me (and honestly? Looking at the community, to others), the idea of a White Cloak is the one who is now selfless, who has made the journey and is here to get you there. The embodiment of protection, of selflessness, of togetherness.
I may never actually obtain a White Cloak. I want one, but I get too protective. At the end, when you’re so close to the top of the mountain, but you see the other Cloak get spotted by a creature…I always rush to get hurt instead of the other. I am so scared of those creatures but the idea of the other Cloak getting hurt instead is unbearable. Perhaps that means I’ve already adopted a White Cloak mentality, without the visual to accompany it.
Perhaps Journey was the best game for me to play to close our portion of the charity stream. A game so rooted in giving, in protection, in overcoming trials together. After all, wasn’t that the point of us playing? Of raising money for others?
It won’t happen overnight, of course. Even Journey shows sometimes you must fail first to succeed. But now, more than ever, I know: no one can stop us when we’re together. And it may be cliched to say, but I do mean it from the bottom of my heart:
Thank you for going on this journey with me.