This week, our partnership with game criticism site Critical Distance brings us picks from their Senior Curator Zoya Street on the narrative uses of game design and interactivity.
Some pieces this week looked at how game systems and interactivity are used for narrative purposes, including the fertile field of morality and the consequences of actions.
- When War is not a Game: This War of Mine | Not Your Mama's Gamer (Content warning: war zone)
"Despite all my decisions to steal, despite all my efforts to play classical music, to find books and cigarettes, to find ingredients for a hot meal, depression, despair, and utter loss takes over in a matter of days. This is the side of war no one speaks off. This is the side of war where people become monopoly pieces buried beneath the hungers of power."
- Morality in the Mechanics | Game Maker's Toolkit (Content warning: mental illness and abuse)
How games can portray morality without karma points
- Meremanoid | Something in the Direction of Exhibition
Mermen and narrative coherence in RPG design
- Firewatch Debrief | Experience Points: EXP Podcast #366:
How Firewatch uses the physicality and immediacy of videogames for storytelling
- Bad Hands in Firewatch | Pippin Barr
Pippin Barr offers an amusing critique that seems to have been missed in most writing on it so far (note, I'm sure the problem raised is a technical issue that will be patched in future, but I like this narrativist reading of its effect on the experience.)
What can be learned from mistakes in game design? This week the BBC published an interview with a former developer who survived one of the most infamous mistakes in games history, and Tom Francis examined how XCOM's mistakes could be repaired.
- The man who made 'the worst video game in history' | BBC News
The rather sad story of how the Atari ET game was made and what happened next for its creator.
"I'm not sure exactly what I was full of but whatever it was, I was overflowing with it."
- Solving XCOM's Snowball Problem | Tom Francis
Tom Francis gives some suggestions on small changes that could make XCOM more fun while remaining true to the fiction.