Writing

Perspective and Interpretation in Video Game Storytelling

Hallway Mirror by Helen.2006

With the right game, a computer screen can become mirror.

A little over a year ago I became interested with interactive fiction, books or video games that are stories the player creates or manipulates.  As a kid I loved reading Choose Your Own Adventure books, so much so that I asked my first grade teacher if I could create one for a writing project.  She said no.  Recently I discovered that interactive fiction was still alive and kicking, which inspired me to play around with various programs in the hope of developing a game of my own.  My best attempt at creating a Zork-like game unexpectedly turned into an as-of-yet unpublished novella called Nimossany.  The main reason why I’ve been so resistant to publish is because of the story’s perspective.  Second-person present tense is a difficult to write, and equally difficult to read.  If the author can’t convince the reader that the “you” in the story is actually them, then the reader will be lost and bored.  For a long time I considered changing Nimossany‘s perspective to something more typical of prose fiction.  However, three well-written works have convinced me that sticking with second-person is the right move.  The three modern games that I feel have influenced my decision are Depression Quest, Gone Home, and Dear Esther.  Each of the games make use of different storytelling styles to convey some very difficult, hard to digest themes, and present them in a way that makes game play engaging and personal.

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