The morning that I write this review has been kind of a rough morning for me. I recently spent three days working on edits for a book in a Google document, working through editor suggestions, before the Google doc simply broke. Three days of edit approving and response comments were lost. I was facing down the prospect of redoing three days of editing work, with other looming deadlines. I just felt a bit horrid as I got to my computer this morning faced with the prospect of jumping right back to the start of a job I thought was almost done.
Faced with something I really didn’t want to jump back into, and feelings I needed to unpack, I turned to a game on Steam that released earlier this week. I booted up Kind Words.
The core idea of Kind Words isn’t necessarily a new idea, more so a new spin on an old idea, with some modern conveniences. In Kind Words, you write short anonymous letters asking for help, advice, or just a comforting ear, and other players can read your messages, and send you anonymous responses. It’s much in the vain of Six Billion Secrets or similar projects, giving people a safe space to share their worries, their secrets, their problems on random topics in the hopes of an understanding, caring, non judgemental response.
When you boot up the game itself, you are greeted with a person sat at a desk in a small plain bedroom, with a relaxing non lyrical soundtrack running in the background. If you’ve ever tuned into one of those YouTube channels with the girl studying at her laptop while the time of day gradually changes, you know exactly what to expect out of the tone and vibe on show here.
Letters asking for advice are limited to seven short lines, with responses and replies able to be up to double that length. It’s all meant to be short form simplified questions, simple responses, and beyond that not much else. You can add little stickers to your letters, you can throw put paper air planes with general positive sentiments that will fly past other people, and a deer will occasionally come to deliver responses to you.
When I heard about Kind Words, my biggest concern was what the community sending and responding to messages would be like. It’s a game on Steam, and there’s always the possibility of communities like this being hijacked by people intent on causing some chaos, but from my time on the service this morning that really didn’t seem to be a reality. Everyone was really welcoming and sweet, responses were thoughtful, and I felt better for my time there.
Perhaps the £4 entry price, cheap enough to be accessible for many but expensive enough people won’t be making throwaway accounts for single shitty comments , is why the game feels so pleasant and safe. Perhaps it’s the fact you have to agree to be nice to people, and write a heartfelt message to a fictional deer to even get into the real letters. Whatever the cause, a few days into release, Kind Words feels pretty beautiful.
As well as getting some really lovely messages helping me to see a better perspective on my days of lost work, including one that really helped me see the value in taking time away and returning to the task after some space, I also spent some time sending little messages or solidarity to people who had been through similar experiences to me. A lot of them sent me thank you stickers, so I think I did okay.
I can’t guarentee Kind Words will long term stay actively used, nor can I promise it will avoid getting filled with nasty people. But for now, it’s a beautifully safe little space to share your worries anonymously, and help others who need a little comfort. We need a little more of that in the world.