We have a lot of silly “holidays” in the United States, when we don’t actually take off work but instead just take a few minutes to think about a thing we maybe don’t often think about. Today is National Lighthouse Day, so let’s talk about lighthouses for a bit.
One time in college I bought a calendar with lighthouses on it as a joke. I mean, I needed a calendar. I didn’t need lighthouses. But I liked the juxtaposition of having four twenty-year-old guys living together, eaten ramen cooked in a barebones kitchen whose only decoration was a lighthouse calendar. Maybe you had to have been there.
Turning to video games, my first thought was the BioShock series, since lighthouses play an important role. “There’s always a lighthouse. There’s always a man. There’s always a city.” Indeed, the beginning of BioShock Infinite was trippy, since it begins the same as the original title did, but quickly takes an upward turn when the lighthouse turns out to be a rocket and it launches Booker up to Columbia.
But everybody knows BioShock. Instead, I’d rather turn your attention to the lesser-known indie title To the Moon. A lighthouse also plays a key role in the story about an old man who wants to go to the moon but doesn’t know why. It unfolds in a sort of reverse chronological order over his life as a couple of scientists uncover the reasons he can’t even summon. It’s equal parts goofy and heartwrenching, and it’s a story that will stay with me for years, even though it only runs a few hours.
And that song! My gosh, that song. Anybody who hears it can tell it’s an emotional piece, but those who played will have an even stronger connection. I know it gets me teary-eyed every time I hear it.
So yeah, go play To the Moon if you haven’t already. Or if you want to celebrate some more video game lighthouses, there’s a whole Tumblr set up for it (though it doesn’t have too many entries).