IM: More about Videogames? Proteus & Gone Home
Ok, so since this week’s reading was all above narrative and defining it, I want to talk about another videogame. To be honest, I don’t play as many games as I used to, and with the new consoles out and me not owning them, there is not much new to play.
What I have been playing though are indie titles, experimental games, and games that cross the boundaries of videogame and other forms of media. I don’t think I want to spend each week talking about videogames so I figure I’ll wrap them all together in this one post.
I bought a game called Proteus ages ago, and I played it for literally a few seconds and never played it again. I didn’t really know what to do in the game so I stopped. But I picked it up again a couple of days ago and beat it in one sitting. The basic premise of the game is… well, it’s about the seasons, nature and music. You basically walk around this island, and it starts out in spring. It’s all created in a heavy pixelated style, which I’m a fan of, but some people may not be able to deal with it. So you’re walking around, going up to animals, who make music when they run from you, and you explore this island to your hearts content. There’s no objective. Just free roaming. Then as night falls, you see flowing white pixels is the distance, so you head over to them and you come to a circular formation of tombstones. When you walk into the middle, you are transported into summer. Now the sun is beaming down, the trees are fully realised, and there are new animals about.
Anyway, this goes on until you finish winter, and then you beat the game. The point of the game is to be an anti-game almost. It defies almost all videogame tropes by giving you almost no direction, and no objectives or end goals. It tells a narrative through the seasonal changes, and I got quite emotional during the winter season. Everything I had grown to love about the island in spring, summer and autumn had gone, as the trees were bare, the ground was snow, the animals were gone and the suns rays were blocked by a heavy layer of fog, which was difficult to navigate through. This wasn’t Frozen. This was the embodiment of Loss.
In another game that received crazy good reviews and accolades, Gone Home, you play as a girl whose come home after living overseas and nobody is home. The game is solely based around exploring the house and finding out where everybody has gone. When you play it, it feels like a horror game, but there are no threats, nothing scary that can hurt you, only objects that tell a story. This is in a sense, another anti-game. It’s like a narrative on wheels. It could easily have been a novel, but having it as a game makes you work to find the story. I beat the game not finding every tidbit, and when I looked up online what I’d missed, and entirely new story was present that went over my head, and it was a really dark and sinister one (not violent or supernatural, just human nature at its worst).
Stories in videogames are becoming much more artistic than they once were. We are in a video game rennaissance where anyone can make a game and have it up on Steam for thousands of people to play and enjoy, and there are many storytellers that are able to express themselves in the form of interactive narrative.