I See Your Value Now

(Promotional Image courtesy of TellTale Games)

It used to be that I couldn’t see the actual “game” in titles like Heavy Rain, Jurassic Park: The Game, or The Walking Dead. Each game is more or less a linear story with conversation options and the occasional quick-time event to shake the player up every so often. There just didn’t seem to be any value in playing them. After all, if the player is going to be relegated to the role of an observer most of the time, then why not just make it a movie instead? It’s essentially going to be the same experience right? Well actually no It’s not the same at all. After playing several of these digital stories, I’ve come to a new conclusion.  These digital experiences might as well be movies, but are actually better thanks to the gaming conventions they employ.

Watching a movie is an entirely passive activity. We as the audience cannot influence what’s happening on screen at all. All we can do is sit and watch the action unfold. That’s fine and all, but one can only sit still for so long, a couple hours at most, which gives only a small amount of time to complete a story. What if we could influence a movie though? What if we had more time to get to know the characters we’re presented with? Wouldn’t that be great? Well that’s exactly what we get with “games” like these. They’re essentially just movies, but ones that allow us to develop a real vested interest in the story they’re trying to tell!


(Heavy Rain Image from Flickr user: Ninniah) 

Guiding the action on screen makes the story “ours” rather than something we’re just watching, and in choosing the characters’ actions on, we’re given a chance to better connect with them and see them as our own as well. And since we’re no longer passive observers, there’s no longer a need for a time limit like there is for movies. “Games” like these can take all the time they need to tell their stories and develop their characters. All because they let us in on what’s transpiring.

Titles like The Wolf Among Us aren’t very good games, but have the potential to greater vehicle for storytelling than films or normal games ever could. They’ve established their niche, and I can see their value now.

Have you played any games like these? What’s your take on them?


6 Comments Add yours

  1. fminuzzi says:

    I played Heavy Rain and the Walking Dead with two other people.
    In Heavy Rain, we passed the controller to the right every new scene, making it so whoever held the controller was in charge of that scene. We would all throw out ideas, but it was one person executing the actions, and getting the final say on what happened. I kind of wish we had been four people, or that there were only three characters, so we could have tried taking control of a character each, but the game was fun to go through.
    In the walking dead, I think it was a bit less organized, mostly because there was a lot more dying (and therefore scenes being repeated), or decision points where no one liked either choice. We passed the controller around if someone got frustrated as well, although it did mean that whoever was struggling could have someone else play the game and get past the annoying bits.
    In both cases, even though we were just watching two-thirds of the time, it still felt like we as a group were moving things along, so I think we all enjoyed it more than we would have a movie version of either.


    1. Hatm0nster says:

      It’s cool that you found a way to make a multiplayer experience out of those games. Did it still have that “movie” feel to it, or more game-y? (in reference more to Heavy Rain than Walking Dead)


      1. fminuzzi says:

        I don’t think it had much of a movie feel, actually. Having someone in the same room making the decisions in real-time was quite similar to making them myself.


      2. Hatm0nster says:

        So not a very cinematic feel then. It still sounds like it was more fun playing it as a group rather than by yourself.


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