334 What The Details Mean In Narrative Game Design

Often I’ll look back years later after playing a game, typically because I’m curious to see what it is that stuck with me most from the experience. Of the 10, 25, or sometimes 50+ hours I spent with a single game in 2013, can I confidently say that I still benefit from having that experience? Usually, yes.

Most modern games come equipped with some sort of story of grandeur, but, unless that is the explicit purpose of the game (i.e. adventure games), it’s not typically what I remember most. What I’m most likely to remember are the small details.

Bioshock Infinite is a great example of this. Released in early 2013, it was hotly anticipated by most of the gaming community, riding on the coattails of the original Bioshock’s dark and visceral cult success. I played Infinite over the course of 4 or 5 days when it was released in 2013. It was a magnificent game in so many ways, but when I honestly look back at it, I remember almost exclusively only the small moments.

I don’t really remember much about the frantic and bombastic shooting set pieces, or the specific points of the plot necessarily. I remember specific cues in the music, carefully exploring an abandoned book shop, the look on Elizabeth’s face, or an overheard conversation by a couple on a park bench.

In the moment, these experiences don’t seem affective, because they aren’t the main attraction. They aren’t meant to be remembered, only to contribute to the mood and feeling of the moment.

It’s like the way we see a memory from our past; somewhat fragmented, but everything that mattered to us is there.

[ Today I Was Playing: Kingdom Hearts HD ReMix 2.5 and Apotheon ]

November 30, 2015