thinking about this birdsite thread

and I had a different question, sorta related: what are the games (or other interactive experiences) in the past five years or so that are most opinionated about what a narrative even is, or how a narrative works?

I ask partially because I finished playing _What Remains of Edith Finch_ last night, after buying it partially on the recommendations of people quote-replying that tweet, and I really (really) loved it—but from a "strictly" "formal" perspective it just seemed like Gone Home With More Stuff to me (which in turn was mostly just No Guns Domestic Bioshock). so not really interesting to me specifically on that level

my list of games like this would be something like... Colossal Cave Adventure (a story is rooms and objects); Her Story (a story is a search engine); 80 Days (a story is a directed graph gated by simulation); Fallen London (a story is a deck of cards); etc. (not all from the bast five years obviously, but that's sort of what I'm thinking about)

@aparrish 30 Flights strikes me as the most aggressive I've played on that front. Jazzpunk to a lesser degree (but it didn't really succeed overall, I don't think)

@casey this toot inspired me to actually play 30 flights which I've owned for like five years now I guess? and it's great! but I'm trying to figure out how to articulate why I don't think it's especially opinionated about narrative in the sense I'm looking for... like the story isn't really a *system* in this game? and the jump cuts and surrealism feel very new-wave cinematic to me, like you could take out the controls and it could be a truffaut short more or less?

@aparrish hmm yeah, I guess what I had in mind was that the jump cuts and surrealism to me make it feel like the game is in service to the narrative and not the reverse, like the Bungie games forcing you to spend time so much time walking through areas you've been through

@aparrish 80 Days isn’t in-your-face radical or experimental, but it is interesting in a number of quiet ways. Particularly in the sense it gives you, the nominal protagonist, of dropping in and out of other people’s stories-in-progress.

@ghost_bird yeah, 80 days is paradigmatic of the kind of games I'm looking for/thinking of

@aparrish “Kings” and “Queens”, then? Though you probably know them already.

@ghost_bird wait what are you talking about? I assumed you'd meant Reigns but maybe not?

@aparrish Sorry - total brain failure. I meant Reigns of course. I’ll give up on this and make some more coffee.

@aparrish I'd say Planescape Torment, Braid, Stanley Parable, and Marathon Infinity.

Infinity has the player hopping across multiple possible parallel timelines to try to find one that doesn't end in disaster, which is a real head trip.

Stanley Parable struck me as doing for games what If On a Winter's Night a Traveler did for novels:

@technomancy @aparrish oohh how I do love If On A Winter's Night A Traveller! Also stanley parable.

@Alonealastalovedalongthe @aparrish when I read If on a Winter's Night a Traveler I thought to myself "I should make a game that does these same things". then I played Stanley Parable and I was like "oh, I don't need to do that now because they did it better than I could have"

@technomancy @aparrish Have you read invisible cities? That is my favorite of his. Although the first story from cosmicomics about the moon is stunning.

@Alonealastalovedalongthe it's on my list; looking forward to reading it. I'll have to check out cosmicomics; thanks!

@aparrish Kentucky Route Zero. It has a really interesting way of structuring a video game narrative (that I don't really want to go into because it's way cooler to experience than explain)

@qonnyr I would actually be interested to hear your take, since I played the first episode and it seemed pretty standard-adventure-game-ey to me in terms of structure? been a while since I played it though so I'm probably forgetting some stuff

@aparrish I'd definitely recommend playing through the rest of the episodes. Acts 3 and 4 in particular are much more interesting, I think. In general I really appreciate how most of the choices in the game don't shape the world (like secret endings and whatnot), but instead shape how you as the player and story-experiencer feel about the characters and the world.

@aparrish My favorite example is probably a music performance in act 3 that has the player choose the lyrics to a love song. It doesn't affect the story at all, but it allows the opportunity to build subtext and backstory for the character introduced in that act.

@aparrish Not last 5 years (not remotely so), but World of Goo is worth checking out. A puzzle game that told the story with only some writing between texts and some short messages from sign painter.

"Everybody's gone to the rapture" Its somewhat linear (chapters, which work like movement in a concert piece. soundtrack is a central piece of the game). there is no protogonist, you just fly around hearing from ghosts, bits of the story to piece what happened to the village.

@aparrish The only thing I can think of is what Chris Crawford is doing with Interactive Storytelling, but sadly it wasn't released.

It was opinionated in that the story is directed by the interactions with the characters and algorithms underneath those characters.

@aparrish and I think there is a distinction between games that invite the player to make up their own story (I guess that is sandbox gameplay?) like crusader kings and minecraft and ones that deliver a specific set of events to tell a story.

@aparrish The Vanishing of Ethan Carter (a story is something I can't mention without revealing a great deal)

@aparrish If you're a fan of Edith Finch, I think you'll enjoy it. Powerful ending.

@aparrish I haven't played it, but my answer would be "A Normal Lost Phone". Related thought, I think marketing is "narrative" while storytelling is about challenging narrative. Discussion about stories has gotten the subjects of manipulating people to think something and telling stories all mixed up because of the use of the word narrative. A good story invites many narratives in and doesn't attempt to establish one singularly correct one in my opinion.

@aparrish err I guess at least the first "a normal lost phone" is a bit problematic tho

@Alonealastalovedalongthe I'm using the word "narrative" in the narrow sense of narratology, sorta taking for granted (for the purposes of this discussion) that the structure of a narrative can be separated from the act of its telling (the whole fabula/sujet thing). I think another way of talking about what I'm looking for is games where the elements of abstract narrative structure are explicitly exposed as game mechanics (in interesting ways)

@aparrish thanks for clarifying, I was actually unaware of that vocabularly so this gives me good food for thought!

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