A tiny little game called Passage, developed by a 30-year-old Jason Rohrer allows plays to experience an entire simulated lifetime, that the developer calls a "memento mori game"
Aaron Rutkoff of the Wall St Journal who apparently scouts out time wasters calls this a "pixilated metaphor" in his column The Game of Life.
It won't make much sense unless you download it for free here and play the 5 minute game.
As in real life -- it should be clear by now that "Passage" is in the metaphor-for-life business -- marriage comes with pluses and minuses. Becoming attached (literally) to your spouse means you can't easily navigate a maze full of narrow passages, which is located south of the starting point. That's where you'll find the treasure, a stand-in for success and wealth, which boosts your score. But treasure isn't the only way to gain points: Making progress from left to right also builds your score -- and traveling as a family doubles these points.
The game is interesting once if only to see the avatar age, becoming gray, then stoop-shouldered. The music, said to be an homage to early Atari, I found dreadful.
What's so surprising is the emotional response from so many gamers.
gamers confess that they've been moved to tears. "I'll be a man and admit this game made me cry when explaining it to my wife," wrote blogger Josh Farkas.
"There have been a number of people who have written stuff about this being the first videogame to make them cry," says Mr. Rohrer. "That's definitely what I was trying to evoke."