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Comforting fictions

Story-telling, especially at an impressionable age, is a way of understanding ourselves and our surroundings.

As adults, we prefer stories, like our lives, to be predictable, to be fixed, to have the comfort of formulas that every soap opera and most films conform with. Yet life is messy. It contains accidents, contradictions, loose ends. There is probably no plot and yet there are more possibilities than we dare imagine. Ultimately, none end very well. There’s a vertigo to contemplating such matters but it is more truthful and ironically less childish than the comforting fictions we adhere to.


Literature and storytelling games

When a technology is surpassed, and we can see the book as a form of technology, it is rarely rendered entirely obsolete. Often, it becomes a niche concern or finds that its very limitations are strengths. The simplicity, clarity and imaginative capacity of literature offers something that games, which immerse the player in immaculately-rendered environments, can lack.

Games like 80 Days, for instance, have revived the tradition while others like Firewatch have incorporated aspects of text-based adventures. And while games like Gone Home and Tacoma are spatial explorations, there are traces of literary mysteries within them, in the way clues emerge, stories unfold and the player becomes increasingly absorbed. The balance of storytelling and interactivity is key. We want to feel we discover things, even when they were placed there for us to find.


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Burly Men at Sea review

I have nothing against stories you play, though they’re currently shelved with video games only because we privilege unreliable terms like “interactivity.” [...] in all cases they involved me watching some things happen, clicking a button, then watching some more things happen. [...] That’s put the burden of invention on audiovisual novelty.


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Why adventure games suck

I enjoy games in which the pace is slow and the reward is for thinking and figuring, rather than quick reflexes. The element that brings adventure games to life for me is the stories around which they are woven. When done right, it is a form of storytelling that can be engrossing in a way that only interaction can bring. [...] If any type of game is going to bridge the gap between games and storytelling, it is most likely going to be adventure games. They will become less puzzle solving and more story telling, it is the blueprint the future will be made from.