Kind Words is one of the most beautiful games I’ve ever played – beautiful in its intent. It’s a game about helping other people, about writing encouraging letters to each other and sharing worries.
It’s very simple (and cheap: £4). You’re a cartoony character in a warmly coloured little bedroom, adrift in a sort of dreamspace, and you sit at a desk, sending and receiving letters. They’re not long letters, more like memos, and they’re delivered via an adorable postal deer. Yes, a deer.
I browsed other people’s letters to begin with. They’re anonymous so all you know of the other person is an initial of their name (which is probably made up), and then it’s up to you whether to reply. You might not have anything to say, but some problems might be exactly what you’ve been through, so maybe you have advice to share.
In the letters I read, one person was struggling with a long-distance relationship, and someone else was really concerned about their bad behaviour. Another person didn’t like going outside in big crowds, and someone just wanted to hear a joke.
I replied to a few and projected positivity their way. “Hang in there!” I beamed. “Good luck!” And some of that positivity rubbed off on me in return. I shared some advice, I hope it helped, and again, some of it rubbed off on me in return.
Each time, the adorable deer thanked me. “Thank you for taking the time to think about a stranger,” it said. What a disarmingly profound statement – and Kind Words is full of them. “Don’t be afraid to ask for help,” it says, and, “Whatever you’re going through, you’re probably not the only one!” Encouragement comes from other people via paper aeroplanes, too, which float, waiting to be opened, across your screen. “Create things, even if they don’t turn out exactly how you wanted,” one said. “Creating in itself is a great achievement!”
Suitably encouraged, I shared something of my own, a situation I’ve been struggling with. I didn’t expect much back but I was surprised how freeing it felt to write it down and send it off. The reply caught me off guard. It was from someone who’d been through something similar, albeit from a different point of view, and it genuinely opened my eyes to something I hadn’t considered before. It really helped.
It hasn’t solved my situation – that’s not what Kind Words is about. The game is clear about things like this, guiding you while reminding you to be nice, in a gently authoritative way – it’s a very delicate thing, sharing worries, after all. And what it creates is something beautiful: a social network for good. Maybe there’s someone on the other end of the letter who really needs a lift, who’s gotten a bit lost. How tremendously lovely is it that Kind Words offers you a way to potentially help them?