The motif of omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient characters has become a popular theme among video games—for examples, GlaDOS, the Master Hand in Super Smash Brothers, and the Witch in The Witch’s House. Does this demonstrate a rebelliousness in the culture of the gaming industry as Portal’s pseudo-god seems to suggest? Or, is it a device used to cover up the lack of player control in video games as The Stanley Parable would have us believe? You decide. Leave a comment in the section below.
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Put simply, inspired intention is the term used for the way games make us do what we are intended to. This can be achieved by setting the right mood with a powerful score, balancing good character development and suspense, and drawing the player’s attention with lighting, intricate design, and movement. Good use of inspired intentions is an impressive feat in all games from The Walking Dead to Bioshock and is certainly worth mentioning when discussing all forms of ergodic* narrative.
*Ergodic = relating to video games, akin to literary or cinematic in books and movies respectively.
What games use inspired intentions to make you sympathize with the protagonist? How? Write your thoughts in comment section below.
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Dear Esther takes place on a Hebridean Island which depending on the interpretation is either metaphorical or a place the narrator strands himself with the intention of committing suicide following the death of his wife. The player traverses this island and never comes in contact with another human (despite references to other inhabitants). Furthermore, these inhabitants are referred to as hermits, lonely (like Jacobson), and out of touch (like the shepherds). The visual text also shows the island’s isolation (and desolation) with crashed and decaying ships surrounding the island. Thus, the player receives the same sense of isolation that the narrator feels due to the loss of his wife. These are all things that could likely go unnoticed but, upon further inspection, show brilliance in artistic design.
What did you feel about the isolation in Dear Esther? What other aspects of this game do you think The Chinese Room did well? Leave a comment in the section below!
For more on Dear Esther, click here to read about the Narrator as a Jesus-figure or an Existentialist view.
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