On your own in an unfamiliar place, where nothing is real, and powerful structures overshadow everything? Games critics this week venture out alone.

Technical limitations

Narrative-focused games are encouraging increasingly nuanced analyses of inaction, peace, and pacing.

“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.

“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.

“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.

“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.”



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