PGC Helsinki Digital: Why video games are "empathy machines"

Nyamakop producer Limpho Moeti spoke about the importance of subversion

PGC Helsinki Digital: Why video games are "empathy machines"

Subversion in video games is a hugely important trait and should be addressed more to surprise audiences so that more stories from different backgrounds are developed. 

This was the message put forward by Nyamakop producer Limpho Moeti during her talk at PGC Helsinki Digital on 'Video Games as a Subversive Art'.

"The reason I think that subversion is important is that because inherently video games are empathy machines," Moeti explained.

"The reality is we live in a very fractious and dangerous time. We live in a time where it matters deeply whose stories get told - not just in pop culture, but specifically in games because it's only through these games can we really get people to empathise with those who are different from them."

Several games were spotlighted throughout the talk for being hugely subversive, such as Papers, Please, Pathological and Spec Ops: The Line. The latter of which was specifically highlighted with war games typically not dealing with real-world consequences.


"Video games very much push us to think and wonder and really experience what it's like to be others and that's vitally important," said Moeti.

"I always try to remind people that video games aren't just a genre, they are a medium," she added.

"Beyond just doing the right thing, we're at a point that people are hungry for new stories, people are hungry to be challenged and to push the boundaries of what video games can do and what kind of stories we can tell. I think that's what subversion in video games can do. The only limitation is only our imagination."

Nyamakop is an award-winning South African studio that was founded in 2015. The company launched Nyamakop in 2018, a puzzle platformer available on Nintendo Switch and PC.

Gameloft recently teamed up with MTN for a new subscription service in South Africa.

Pocket Gamer Connects Helsinki Digital is the best of our Pocket Gamer Connects conference in an online form, with an entire week of talks, meetings, and pitch events taking place from September 14th to the 18th. You can read up on all the tracks taking place throughout the week here.

Deputy Editor

Matthew Forde is the deputy editor at and also a member of the Pocket Gamer Podcast. You can find him on Twitter @MattForde64 talking about stats, data and everything pop culture related - particularly superheroes.