1. The two games that I played were Papers, Please and The Stanley Parable. Both of these games were new to me and quite different than any other video games that I had played before. These games were so different than other video games I have played in the past because the both followed a narrative mainly based upon choice. In Papers, Please the user has to make a choice about who to let through the immigration checkpoint and who to deny. Although there are various tools and strategies to help the user make the correct choice, ultimately the user has the final choice. Similarly, in Stanley’s Parable you are presented with a narrative voice telling you which decisions you should make, and the user has the choice to listen to this narrative voice or not, which can result in drastically different outcomes. Furthermore, both games are played from a first-person perspective.
1a. There are a number of things that can be learned from playing “Papers, Please”. I believe that one of the things that “Papers, Please” attempts to teach you is attention to detail. For example, when first playing the game I was consistently letting people across the border that I was not supposed to because I missed a minor detail such as the persons picture did not exactly match there actual appearance, the passport was not validated in one of the approved city’s, the wrong date was written on the ticket, etc. As the game went on, however, I quickly learned that every minor detail and bit of information must be analyzed in order to make sure that the wrong people were not being allowed across the border. The narrative did affect my initial approach to gameplay by bringing the immigration officers family into play. By saying things like “your son is sick” or “your family is starving” it certainly made me more determined to pay attention to detail and make as much money as possible.
1b. The structure of “The Stanley Parable” forces you to consider whether your role in the game is to simply follow the instructions of the narrator and do everything that he says, or to break free from the narrators control and make your own choices. This became evident to me after initially following all of the narrator’s instructions, which quickly resulted in a dead end. I think that this structure strengthened the games basic narrative, because it forces the user to make independent decisions regardless of what the narrator is saying. I believe that this is the entire point of the game; to make your own choices which ultimately leads to a number of different outcomes, some desired and some not desired.
2. All of these games display how the structure of a narrative experience does not have to be set in stone, or only happen in one way, contrasting the narratives seen in books and movies. This is because in games such as “The Stanley Parable” and “Papers, Please” the user must use his or her best judgment to make choices and ultimately determine what the narrative of their game will be, something that is only possible when playing a game. The only limitations that I saw in these games is that you are not truly free to do whatever you want, such as in games like The Sims and Second Life, but rather have the ability to make your own choices to a certain extent.
3. As a player, I think that the inherent value in playing a narrative game is that it allows for a great degree of interaction within the narrative, which ultimately makes the user feel a stronger connection to his/her character and the choices that the user is making the character pick. Imaging the goals of a game designer, I believe that the value in making a narrative as a game, rather than another story telling platform is because of the interactivity that it allows the gamer to have. Rather than simply reading or watching a narrative that’s never going to change, the user now has the ability to make their own narrative and explore the number of different narratives that can result throughout the game.