A full year with this blog! In this quick essay I’ll provide a brief reflection on the value of writing in helping us think about video games.
If a character in a game was evil, but then joins the good guys, when do you forgive them? This question may seem difficult, but it’s a question that is rarely – if ever – posed through a game’s narrative. But by stepping back and thinking more carefully about what it means to “forgive” we can see how these narratives ignore the problem and how we might better incorporate these questions into video games.
It can feel aggravating to go through a game and find out that there’s something you missed, and that you can’t go back and get it. And yet, it can also feel aggravating to spend hours searching and re-searching areas just to make sure you haven’t missed anything. So how might we reach some kind of middle ground that can protect our sense of exploration while preventing us from missing content we want to find?
A lot of people like to record themselves playing games, and a lot of other people enjoy watching those recordings. But how does the mere act of performing change the way we relate to video games, whether when we’re being observed or even when we’re playing on our own?
Video games often involve destroying something. Whether the ending of a life or blowing up a building, many games rely on the player bringing an end to something. But is there a sense of entertainment that can come from mere destruction itself, and not simply completing tasks? In this essay I explore the destructive drive and explain how it works within video games and can motivate player interaction with games.
Many of us are familiar with in-game challenges and achievements, but why would anyone want to complete those? In this essay I’ll explore the drive to “perfect” a game and explain the appeal of these challenges for players.
Players possess a lot of power in video games, over a wide variety of aspects of the game. But one way that players can approach games is not just through the exercise of mere power, but through extreme power. In this essay I’ll look at examples where players possess incredible power to overcome in-game obstacles, and explain why this kind of power can be appealing.
Roguelikes are often about making progress slowly. Each run is only supposed to bring you a bit closer to the end. But how that progress is framed is important. In this essay I’ll explore a couple of different ways that the progress in roguelike games can be presented to players, and how those different framings impact the player’s relationship toward the game.
Exploration in video games comes with a potential cost: players getting lost. There are various ways in which players can lose track of where they are, but all of them result in the same bad outcome. In this essay, I explore what it means for players to get lost in a game, and some ideas for how this outcome can be avoided through world and map design.
Video games have been experimenting with minimalist narratives for a while now. But sometimes those narratives don’t quite work out as intended. In this essay I’ll explore some aspects of minimalist writing to provide a few ideas on how to better craft narratives that steer away from writing too much.