April 16, 2015
Blog Post 4/16/15- Games Assignment
Gregory Lord talked to us last week about video game and the narratives/storytelling that has been introduced in the past 20 or so years. In terms of shared themes, Papers, Please and The Walking Dead’s gameplay all change depending on what “route” you choose to follow as you continue through the game. In Papers, Please, your character is an immigration officer that has to peruse through documents in order to find out whether the applicant has proper documentation/is not a threat. Depending on how well you are able to catch things such as name changes, gender swaps and expiration dates, your city continues to function until you let the wrong people in. In The Walking Dead, the video game narrative is dependent on who you talk to, what choices you make as your character, and your ability to avoid the zombies trying to kill you and the human race. Another common theme with the two video games is the idea of choice. The gameplay narrative and your success as a player is completely contingent on what choices you make, with different variations of outcomes.
1a.) It was my first time playing Papers, Please in class and it was evident that the game was created decades ago. The graphics are similar to that of a Sega Genesis, but that being said I do believe the game had an interesting concept. While you weren’t truly being trained to be an immigration officer (considering this would take years and the game would be, let’s face it, boring), the game intends to teach the player how to thoroughly look through small amounts of information that gradually increases through successful gameplay. Initially due to the somewhat boring nature of gameplay, our group did not inspect passports thoroughly/didn’t know how to navigate through all of the necessary panels. After neglecting this, our town was hit by a terrorist attack and we lost the game. Restarting the game forced us to read all the necessary instructions and soon after the game was relatively easy in my opinion.
1b.)The Walking Dead is a narrative video game that goes far deeper in its storytelling than does Papers, Please. While we only had a short window for in-class gameplay, survival was initially our group’s first thoughts on the ultimate theme of the game. You start having to fight off a zombie for your livelihood, but after reaching the farm you realize that the game is far more in depth. There is a small girl, a mother and a man working on his truck in the scene that our group ended on.
2.) Depending on what questions you asked the characters, they would give you different responses and would give you different advice on how to proceed through the game. These characters that you talk to begin to change the narrative’s gameplay and different paths are outlined for the player. The player’s success is then contingent on what path they choose, and who they choose to save during a zombie takeover.Bother Papers, Please and The Walking Dead’s narratives change depending on what choices you make and whom you talk to during gameplay. Unlike a book, narrative games are able to tell numerous stories in one single video game. In Eric Zimmerman’s book “Rules of Play,” he states, “It is not a question of whether games are narrative, but how they are narrative.” There are different structures in a game like The Walking Dead, such as walking around/exploring, obstacles/fighting and following the game’s storyline. Gameplayà Storyà Gameplayà Storyà etc. Games like these are a “triangle of possibilities” with endless amounts of outcomes. The game can be seen more as a game of chess than one static, linear “story.”
3.) As a player, the amount of different possibilities and outcomes alone can be seen as inherent reasoning for “playing” a narrative game. While books are a good source of entertainment, they are static, ie their stories are the same every time you read them. In a narrative video game, the pathways you take can sometimes be endless, and each time you play it is as if you are reading a book you love, only this time with a different twist than when you played it last. As far as value goes, entertainment with many different types of storylines is a big draw to narrative games. Opposed to print or film, you’re truly in control of your player’s destiny and the story’s plot in these narrative games, and this is why games like Grand Theft Auto are so popular today and have progressively gotten more complex and intricate.