“M is for magic. All the letters are, if you put them together properly. You can make magic with them, and dreams, and, I hope, even a few surprises…”— Neil Gaiman
Released: September 2019
Kind Words (lo-fi chill beats to write to) is an asynchronous multiplayer game about writing nice things to real people. It has a simple set-up, the character is in their room writing letters and listening to music. Players can send random positive thoughts to everyone and anyone via paper plane, make specific requests or reply to those of others. Players can send stickers when replying to another person’s request or as thanks for a received reply and can be used to decorate the character’s room. As a jolly extra, the role of the postman is played by a sweet and cheerful deer!
The experience has a really relaxing and heartwarming feel to it overall. Kind Words utilises a warm and vibrant colour palette and there is a slightly drowsy, ethereal feel to the overall aesthetic. There is a selection of chilled-out, lo-fi tunes that can be chosen using the in-game stereo. There are similarities between pieces, enough to create a comprehensive sound that matches the overall atmosphere but distinct enough to avoid feeling repetitious and instead provide a real sense of choice.
After sending a request, six replies were received in less than 30 minutes, indicating that the game has an active online community. Additionally, paper planes regularly fly into the room, delivering (hopefully) positive messages when clicked on. It is the real people that make this game so special, the kind and heartfelt interactions that take place are truly beautiful at times. Unfortunately, it is the very same thing that raises some cause for concern, posing moral and ethical questions.
Whilst the game begins with guidance about using the game appropriately, it also encourages people to discuss their problems and seek advice. It quickly becomes evident that some players are using this game to ask questions that should be directed at professionals, lessening the chances of them seeking appropriate help but also putting them at risk of receiving unqualified and potentially damaging advice. Players can report messages due to a range of reasons including being inappropriate, worrying, off-topic or gibberish. The game also includes a ‘mental health resources’ button on all message writing screens but this is limited to 3 contacts across the US and Australia and is really quite lacking.
Kind Words is a great little experience to dip into and get a daily dose of positivity and kindness. Its calming aesthetics and music match the themes of the game perfectly making it an ideal way to relax and boost spirits, however, it is not the place to take more serious problems.