On your own in an unfamiliar place, where nothing is real, and powerful structures overshadow everything? Games critics this week venture out alone.
Narrative-focused games are encouraging increasingly nuanced analyses of inaction, peace, and pacing.
- Gamasutra: M. Joshua Cauller’s Blog – Thoughts on first-person-narrative game trailers
M. Joshua Cauller’s notes on producing a game trailer are also potentially useful material for video makers wanting to document and comment on other people’s games.
- ‘Antisocial VR’ and the power of isolation | GamesIndustry.biz
Will Freeman interviews solo developer Martin Wheel about meditative experiences and game design.
- Some thoughts on Myst, Riven, The Witness, and other stuff.
Uni offers an overall appraisal of the design techniques at work in mystery islands.
“There are definitely elements from Myst and Riven to ditch, with some bad layouts, quirky puzzles, and obvious technical limitations, but it would have been nice to take the same aspirations a step forward rather than a step back. It’s not just The Witness shying away from these ideas”
A facsimile of a past account
The discussion about narrative in games has already recovered after its unfortunate derailing last week.
- A Game About Syrian Refugees and WhatsApp – Waypoint
Chris Priestman reports on a newsgame that uses the language of the cellphone interface to tell a true story.
- We Kill Ourselves with Stories in ‘Verde Station’ | PopMatters
Nick Dinicola describes how one game disturbs the player’s sense of reality. Could it perhaps even encourage critical readings of media?
- No Coast Gaming | Narrative Isn’t the End, but a Means to Reach it.
Will Anderson finds in Ian Bogost’s piece from last week a subtle argument about the uses of narrative in spatial media.
“Plot” as it relates to our own memory is disconnected from the memories themselves. As you sit with your friends, beer in hand, and tell a personal story, you aren’t sharing memories, but a facsimile of a past account. One that lacks the sensation of being and doing. It’s a rough hewn structure meant to function as allegory for the original occurrence.
I cannot make a house
Speaking of spatial narratives, these pieces focus on spatiality to examine what it’s like to spend time in a game.
- The Doubled Meanings of Gaming’s Great Towers | Waypoint
Steven Strom explores the feelings of empowerment and intimidation that can be evoked by tall structures.
- ‘Skyrim’ is a Great Survival Game, Actually | Waypoint
Cameron Kunzelman describes the effects of modding a game in order to experience its ecosystem models differently.
“Smacking a rock with a hammer to create the means of generating a stone wall, which then makes a house, pales in comparison to the stress of knowing that I cannot make a house in Skyrim. A campfire, sure. But to find shelter, and to therefore feel safe, I have to depend on my knowledge of the space around me, my weapons, and a little luck.”
A cog in the machinery of innovation
Finally, these two pieces look at developers working in different contexts.
- Gaming studios like Kiro’o Games and Digitalmania are leading Africa’s foray into the video game industry — Quartz
Abdi Latif Dahir describes the creative successes and infrastructural challenges met by developers across Africa.
- On NASA, the video game developer • Eurogamer.net
Edwin Evans-Thirlwell reports on NASA’s work with equal amounts of fascination and scepticism.
“we should resist efforts to reduce art to the status of a cog in the machinery of innovation or conquest. Art can make the wonderful seem possible – it can turn the unimaginable into something practical, tactile, and in the context of a climate crisis whose effects are terrible yet diffuse and elusive, there is certainly call for art that can escape Earth’s gravity and consider human civilisation from on high. But art risks losing its way when it steps up in the service of an agenda, and all such projects should be treated with a healthy measure of suspicion.”
- Call for Papers – TRANSMISSIONS
This young academic journal currently has an intriguing call for papers open for submissions.
- May 2017: Responsibility
Check out our current call for submissions to the Blogs of the Roundtable feature!
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Have you read, seen, heard or otherwise experienced something new that made you think about games differently? Send it in!