Critical vs Mainstream Games writing

The two articles I have chose are ‘To Each and Every Star: The Painful Worlds of The Chinese Room’ from Paste magazine and ‘Dear Esther: A Haunting Indie Story Worth Listening To’ from Game Informer.


The article from Game Informer, written by Tim Turi, was created for a much more casual audience. It took the structure of a review but did delve slightly into the meaning of the game, rather than what the game is. Turi talked about the social purpose of Dear Esther and how he believed that every player takes away a different experience, which in turn creates discussion. He states that the story is written to purposefully encourage ‘water cooler talk’. This is an interesting but simple way to see Dear Esther, the game goes to much deeper levels then this review is showing.


The article from Paper magazine, written by Javy Gwaltney, on the other hand is targeted towards a more invested audience. It delves much deeper into the meaning of Dear Esther, talking about the inner grief that both the player and the narrator feel. Gwaltney believes Dear Esther is not only about piecing the story of the narrator together, while interesting, but is about expressing and venting a personal grief. He says the game is best left as “an unsettling howl of grief into the sea wind” and that the real ghosts are not the ones on the island but the things that we’ve done and have been done to us. While this article doesn’t cover all parts of Dear Esther, it does make interesting points about the grief in the game and how it makes you feel apart of it. It goes much deeper than the previously mentioned article, making it more useful to me as a game designer.
The article by Javy Gwaltney gives some insight to how games can make the player project themselves on the player. However, a video by the YouTube channel ‘Innuendo studios’, which can be found here, gives much more details about how the game encourages self-insertion.


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