Sky: Children of the Light – the capitalization of compassion
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Sky: Children of the Light is a game from Thatgamecompany that focuses its design on promoting higher values such as compassion and cooperation among players while basing itself on the free to play revenue model. The choice of the revenue model stands in opposition to the previous releases from this developer, but also calls into question how a system known for its self-serving, consumerism-oriented practices plays into the ideas of compassion that the game strives to represent and reinforce. The main point of this research is to answer the question of whether the underlying revenue model of the game Sky: Children of the Light comes at a cost to the “meaningful experience” of compassion represented by the text of the game, and how it does that. The research is performed through a textual analysis of in game elements such as the narrative, world design, character representation, interactivity, social mechanics, reward system and microtransactions. The findings show that while the game’s narrative, world design and social mechanics work in favor of guiding players towards cooperative actions and facilitate positive feelings of compassion, the underlying system of cosmetics-based rewards and slow progression tied to microtransactions overshadow the feelings of compassion in later stages of the game, instead conflating the meaning of compassionate actions with in-game currency and detaching them from any emotional involvement of the players.