Night In The Woods- Video Games As Art

I've been playing a game called Night in the Woods recently and it has had me reflecting on a lot of things. The game follows college dropout Mae Borowski, who returns home to the crumbling former mining town of Possum Springs. We follow her as she meets old friends and realises that the town she knew has moved on, and not always for the better.
The game rang true on so many levels for me: coming back to a place to see how much yet how little it has changed, how people you knew have moved on or not at all and how tough life has been for some people, who live within the shadow of one of the richest places on Earth, nearly a decade after the economic crises.
Barking in East London is a crap hole but it was my crap hole, it had issues but it did have a sense of community amongst its high rises, empty shopping centre and prevalence of gambling, cheap barely edible vegetable bowls and pound chicken shops.
As someone who spent pretty much their entire life in the town until quite recently I have half remembered memories of Vicarage Fields opening and the whole town seemingly coming out to welcome it and partake in its free peppermint lollies emblazoned with the logo, the cool bookshop on the top floor and the video game shop Whizz Kids selling the latest system and offering playable Atari Lynxes with Chips Challenge. Now it seems like an empty shell with cheap clothes stores and stalls selling phone accessories and plugs.... A shadow of the promise it offers in its youth.
Night in the Woods resonated with me as it sensitively showed that the memories in our mind are often rose tinted and don't actually show the real world situation. As I’ve said, Barking was a crap hole, and even though it didn't have a cosmic horror entity or a death cult like in the game, it never truly felt safe, however I barely remember the bad things… the very high crime stats, the scary train station full of hood rats, the malevolent Vicarage Walk, people asking for a ‘spare 20p’… all horrendous!
However Barking seems to be rising from the ashes of Ford in Dagenham closing as the old 70s high-rises are being knocked down to make way for the new low wise apartment complexes, feeding the lifeblood of the city as it turns into yet another commuter town. This is an improvement after about 20 years of decline but it does feel like an end of something and that is something Night In The Woods captures very well. Who says games can’t be art? Art speaks of the human condition and Night In The Woods does that is spades.