Alexandra Leaving

There’s a review of Bronze on IFDB that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately.

After hearing so much about Bronze, I was expecting a very satisfying and pleasurable experience. This was not the case for me… I came away feeling like the entire experience was rather hollow and somewhat forced… Beauty and the Beast is a beautiful love story, but in this version of the tale, I felt that the protagonist’s relationship with the Beast lacked very much warmth or deep love.

This is a challenging review for me. Obviously, I’m sorry the reviewer didn’t have a good time. It’s possible that I could or should have done something to frame the presentation of the game to make clear that it was not going to be a traditional fairy tale happy-ending romance. (The closest thing to that I’ve ever written is Pytho’s Mask, which, not coincidentally, has some pretty shallow characters and a heavily gender-bound treatment of love; even so some subversive elements snuck in before the end.) Perhaps I seemed to offer something the game was never going to deliver — and, for what it’s worth, I do think that players have the right to want specific things from their games. Indeed, if the player doesn’t want something, she’s not likely to play for long.

However. The unromantic aspect of the game is not a mistake. On the contrary, it is the summation of the effort and thought that went into its creation.

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More Views on Games, Narrative, and Character

People who were interested in Second Person but didn’t buy the hardcover copy may be interested to know that many of the articles are now being presented online over at electronic book review, as a continuation of the First Person thread. Since there’s a large amount of content here and it may not be immediately obvious which of these articles are IF-related, I’ve also added to the Second Person page over at ifwiki with links directly into the IF-specific stuff.

Along similar lines, Dennis Jerz has an interesting summary of Chris Crawford’s talk at Hypertext ’08.

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Narrative in Casual Gaming: Miss Management

For some time I’ve been arguing that the way forward for interactive storytelling is to heal the long-standing breach between narrative and puzzle, and make the interactive parts of a game reinforce and enhance the story. The player’s action should in some way help him better understand the characters, explore the constraints of the circumstance in which they find themselves, or intensify his feelings towards the participants and the outcome. (There are probably other possibilities too, but those are the obvious ones that present themselves.)

The casual game Miss Management accomplishes all that surprisingly well.

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