#259 The blurred line between videogames and storytelling

True to my last post I have been attacking my Steam Backlog with vigor by playing Dust: an Elysian Tail and Telltale’s The Walking Dead than  playing the endless games like TF2, Binding of Issac, or League of Legends and I can happily say that I have progressed further in both games over this past weekend than any other time since I bought either games. Out of the two games I am looking forward in completing The Walking Dead than Dust simply because of how well the story drags me along.

It just hooks you in emotionally and doesn't let go.

It just hooks you in emotionally and doesn’t let go.

As I was playing through the post-zombie walker infested world as someone who has way more survivability skills than me, I had to stop every once and a while ask myself the the important question of whether Telltale’s The Walking Dead was technically a game.

I touched upon this question very briefly before when I mentioned the indie game, Thomas was Alone, where you take control of a half-dozen pixels and navigate them through a series of obstacles to get to help them find out why there are there.

2013-06-05_00001

It makes more sense once you play the game

Both titles does a great job conveying a story but I would be I am still hesitant to actually call them games, they more focus on the story than the actual game play. The Walking Dead had important conversation branches that effect the people and events as the story unfolds but it includes fairly easy point and click puzzles as at most a challenging Quick Time Events. While Thomas Was Alone has a fantastic narrator and plot but the platforming stages were simple in small, enclosed areas with no room to explore and both games were linear and a very small, near nonexistent, difficulty curve.

It just hooks you in emotionally and doesn't let go.

I am not discrediting the titles or the experiences I gained from it, truth be told if I was a dad I would gladly let my children play both games (at a proper age) as a suitable substitute to a traditional story book.

While I did enjoy the story and art style that both titles brought to the table, I do have to ask whether they are still technically games for not having any choice or asking you do you anything more challenging than mashing a QTE, while traditional games always came with a level difficultly to test you and level of personal interaction where you got to choose how to defeat the boss or what rooms of a dungeon to tackle first.

As games become more and more popular and the barrier to entry is lowered with the amount of technology an independent, creative, game developers can get their hands on I do wonder if we need a new category for this sort of media, whether a category in the gaming genera or a new one in general. Or maybe I’m just stuck thinking about games and gameplay from an older, more traditional, perspective. 

I want to know what you think, have you played through Thomas Was Alone and The Walking Dead and do you think they are technically videogames or are they something else? Leave a comment down below, I’m interested in what other people think about this idea.


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Be MOP focuses on the the world of videogames with my own reflections about the current news and developments that happens throughout the gaming industry. Updates Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “#259 The blurred line between videogames and storytelling

  1. I agree. As a game with difficulty levels like we’re use to, Walking Dead doesn’t fit in. It’s difficulty doesn’t even register to the average player… but it’s “difficulty” lies in the soul-tearing decisions it has you make that it forces as snap judgements. I like it.

    Of course, I’m also of the opinion that a novel / movie / videogame / comic book / TV show / etc. all hold give-or-take the same entertainment value, and thus when the lines of what is a game and what is a movie start blurring together, I find it inevitable and welcome.

    I am 100% sure that someday we will be able to go to the movies, and at some crucial point during the movie, it will poll the audience and give us a choice of what we want the protagonist to make. It’s only a matter of time and tech.

    • You should look into the book Generation Xbox: How Videogames Invaded Hollywood, it is everything you just talked. It looks like we see your prediction come to light with the Defiance MMO/TV show

      (http://www.amazon.com/dp/0956507247)

      • You know, I saw that for $60 on Steam… and now it’s down to $10, and I still don’t really want to buy it. Really not sure why, though. Probably just a case of “not enough time”. I heard about the show, but never watched it. Maybe just burned out?

      • Im in the same boat as you, when I first heard about the concept and then seeing it at one of the PAX panels I couldn’t be more excited.But now that it’s out I just cant justify the cost, not only the dollar price tag but the cost of getting back in an MMO

  2. Pingback: #411 Games from my Backlog for the month of August | Be MOP

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