April 7th, 2013

eowyn jude

(no subject)

Detritus is a great word. I've been thinking about that since I heard about Gone Home, a video game that should be coming out this year. It's really hitting me in my storytelling brain right now, because it's being billed as a 'story exploration game', the kind where you have a house filled with things, and you're supposed to piece together what happened to the family there by reading notes, finding X-files posters, poking around family pictures and listening to riot grrl mixtapes.

I saw that one of the early reviews/impressions (since it's not complete yet) of the game compared it to The Things They Carried, which was one of those stories that really made a huge impression on baby writer me, the idea that you can learn about a person through the things they accumulate over their lifetimes and that as a writer, you can use that, you can turn that into a tool you can use. A lot of video games do have tucked away stories like this, a scrawled message on a wall, pictures of characters in different situations to look at, but it's rare to have those sorts of stories be the focus and the main driving gameplay, I think. Dear Esther was a first shot at trying to do some of this, but I think that game was too linear, too abstract and metaphysical. This game feels entirely concrete.

From the trailer, I am already in love with all the details in the game, specifically the period detail. I remember seeing those magic eye puzzles everywhere. I remember owning an ugly neon Lisa Frank binder. I used to record X-files reruns on VHS tapes. I love how familiar the whole place feels.

The world of storytelling is so rich. There have been a lot of arguments over the past year about video game storytelling and what can we do with it? So much of AAA video game storytelling as of right now is moving more 'cinematic', towards having gorgeous, epic cut scenes and less on figuring out how to make player interactivity an essential part of the storytelling process. I think this game is part of that, and that excites me.

But I think what excites me even more than that is the sorts of stories that video games are now evolving to tell are different too. It's not all violence or horror or even puzzles. It's mundane. Maybe a little heightened in the way movies can get, but still. I'm excited to see that we can tell the stories of teenage girls in our games, too. The kind of girls who don't have superpowers and don't have to save the world but their sadness and their hope and their loves and their dreams are still worth telling stories about anyway.

It's just an indie game, so who knows what kind of impact it will have, but I'm glad it's being made anyway. It's still more interesting than yet another 2-d platformer, right?

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