GAMES ASSIGNMENT – 4/9
Alessandria Dey, Elise Eagan, Sarah Scalet
“Papers, Please” is not attempting to train you in the skills of being an immigration officer. (That said, it may still be called a simulation.) What things, then, do you think this game intends to teach you, or to make you question or consider? Did the narrative affect your initial approach to the gameplay?
As a game about border control, “Papers, Please” appears to be commentary on the border control process. It simulates an ever-changing, high-pressure situation. The game reveals the complicated immigration system, and the seemingly endless potential for immigration officers to make mistakes.
The narrative increased our emotional connection to the game. With regular updates about our family – it being “cold” – we felt pressure to succeed from additional sources. Furthermore, the regular performance reports either encouraged us to work harder or reinforced our ego. After the game, we felt worthy of being immigration offers.
If you chose “The Walking Dead,” you are asked to consider more than just how to survive a zombie apocalypse. While “survival” might be an obvious central theme, how does this theme change as the game’s narrative begins to unfold, and how are these thematic changes reinforced by the gameplay?
The idea of survival carries the player through the game. Who you’re trying to save, however, evolves. In the beginning, the user is most worried about saving their own character. Decisions later force the user to chose to save others who are more valuable in the long-run. The decision-making process is essential to the game’s functioning.
What do these games ask you to consider about the structure of a narrative experience? Which aspects of these games’ narratives are only possible in games? (Or, did you find any limitations that a game structure placed on these narratives?)
The start-and-stop dynamic is only possible in these games. Unlike real life, the story can be stopped and give the user time to make a decision. The user was given a surprising amount of time to make a decision. On the other hand, the role of decision-making seemed to detract from the overall playing experience. Especially considering our limited playing time, it was frustrating to make a wrong decision and stall the process. We didn’t get as far into the game as we would have liked.
Also the game forces you to focus on nothing but the game. With some games one can be listening to music or performing other activities simultaneously. “Papers Please” fully immerses gamers into the bureaucratic assimilator. The Walking Dead game was reading/ listening intensive as part of its narrative.
As a player, what do you see as the inherent value in “playing” a narrative game? And (imagining the goals of a game designer) what do you see as the value in creating a narrative as a game, rather than another storytelling medium (print, film, etc.)?
With “The Walking Dead,” playing a narrative game increased our imaginative capacity. Like reading a choose-your-own ending novel, it increased our investment in a story and provided an interesting escape from the real world. With “Papers, Please” the game improved our critical thinking because we had to be extremely detailed in our decision making process while under pressure. This interactive feature couldn’t be possible in other mediums.