“Communication leads to community, that is, to understanding, intimacy and mutual valuing”
Merriam-Webster defines community as “a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.” Community isn’t something that just “happens.” It’s brought into being by sharing: sharing your interests, time, and wealth with not only those on the same street as you but with your neighbors ten streets down or two cities away. Whether we’re in a bustling metropolis, a quaint tree-filled village, or a quiet seaside tent city, we have an unspoken obligation of care and kindness. We may all look and act different but beneath all of the bow ties and super, giant paint guns we are unified in what we can offer and be to those around us.
Wuppo, the first game by developers Knuist and Perzik, is a testament to the power of listening, kindness, and proactiveness in building community and solving the problems in the world at large. Sitting in your Wum house, ordering food and watching T.V., your character begins the game content with the way things are and have always been. But once a small mishap gets you kicked out of your Wum abode, you begin to meet others with bigger Wum problems. You’re thrust into taking an active interest in your neighbors’ troubles, which are usually a bit more complicated than the usual “fetch quests,” and find yourself neck deep in devolving political issues such as town sinkholes, changing currency systems, and cultural misunderstandings. And even though you may just be a Wum with a talking bird on your back and an inventory full of silly hats, you find yourself more than willing to lend a hand. Or, in the case of Wuppo, a paint gun.
Handling the world as if viewed through a child’s painting, the art direction of Wuppo is crayon-box bright and charmingly smile inducing. With details like feeding your character cake to make him fatter and gaining “happiness points” for completing tasks, this wide-eyed, childlike view of the world carries over into every aspect of your experience. The world of Wuppo world is in no way devoid of malice or trouble, but it provides simple solutions to familiar problems that often depend on healthy doses of kindness and goodwill. And while the answers to our real world community problems are hardly ever simple or easy, when looked at through the rainbow glasses of Kunist and Perzik’s game, they seem a little more within our reach. Hopefully the player will leave Wuppo with not only a much needed smile, but with a renewed perspective on valuing one another, being kind, and seeing that the beauty in community—no matter if you’re a Blusser, a Wum, or a Splenkhakker—is in working together.