Friday, April 28, 2017

Game, narrative, art

Montreal's Blue Metropolis Literary Festival is on, and a few events have caught my attention.

Earlier this week I attended a lecture on "New Aesthetics in Game Narratives." Under discussion were Jason Rohrer's Passage, Davey Wreden's The Stanley Parable, and Anna Anthropy's Dys4ia.

Somewhat ironically, while these games are considered classics among game designers and academics, they are not widely known among mainstream gamers. (And I don't fall into any of these categories. What the hell am I doing here?)

I'm not convinced that any of the aesthetics under discussion were exactly new, but the point was made that these games were not merely stories being told in a different format. The act of them being gamified imbued the narrative with a whole 'nother level of meaning. Truly, you could not transfer these games to text and retain the intended effect. Being in the game, playing the game, and being subject to game tropes is essential to the narrative.

[This is in sharp contrast to, say, games in the Assassin's Creed franchise, which have high production value and excel at storytelling, but in a very traditional way (even when it gets meta).]

Of the games on deck, I can claim familiarity only with The Stanley Parable. Kind of Kafka meets Douglas Adams. Kind of beautiful.

Also, I had trouble finding the damn lecture space at the university. I walked endless corridors and checked an infinite number of empty rooms (it seems I came up an unexpected elevator), always circling back on myself, waiting for a voice inside my head to set me on the right path. It dawned on me that this must be part of the planned lecture experience (it wasn't).

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