So the one piece of regular PAX programming that I really, really wanted to see was Wil Wheaton’s keynote. (My sister met Wheaton at Emerald City ComiCon a few weeks earlier and he mentioned to her that the keynote was going to touch on interactive storytelling, so I was especially curious to see it.) But, alas, like a bazillion other people, I couldn’t get in.
A lot of the speech is about gamer solidarity, the awesomeness of playing D&D in his childhood, and so on, but at around 40 minutes in, he starts talking about his experience playing Dragon Age: Origins. He tells about being in a situation where he is forced to do something that loses his favorite character from his game party, because of the choices he’s made up to that point about the main character’s development and alignment. And of course the fact that that moment was the product of his own decisions made it that much more powerful.
From there, he goes into a longer riff about the power and inevitable rise of interactive storytelling. Later, he gets a big cheer by mentioning Heavy Rain, and I sympathize, even though in practice I was not happy with a lot of things about the game.
It’s a keynote, not a deep analysis of the concepts of choice and complicity in gaming, but it’s definitely cool to see the narrative aspect of games singled out this way. And encouraging, too, to have a writer who is willing to stand up and speak for what interactive stories can do well. Too often even game-industry writers seem to be focused on the reverse.