Let’s Talk about: Narrative Choice in The Walking Dead (No Spoilers)

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Like a lot of gamers right now, I’m pretty invested in The Walking Dead. I finished Episode 3: Long Road Ahead last night immediately following Episode 2: Starved For Help. It was a hell of a night, let me tell you, and obviously if you’ve played it you’ll know what I’m referring to when I say that I was anxious to get Episode 3 over with. To those who haven’t played it yet, you might consider that a bad thing, but it isn’t. The game, as far as I’m concerned, is very good, at least in the way it handles the story elements. It’s just filled with a lot of scenarios that can be hard to swallow, and as a survival horror game it is very likely to frighten you, or at the very least be disturbing at times. I won’t divulge any spoilers, as I said in the title, but I am going to talk about your role as a survivor amongst the other characters in the game.

Also as a quick disclaimer, I have not read the original comic series, nor have I watched the television adaptation on AMC.

There are no easy decisions, something that is established early in the first episode as you control the main character, Lee Everett. This is essentially what makes The Walking Dead unique from a narrative perspective. The game’s overall storyline may not vary much, even with your decisions (for instance, you will not be able to avoid going to certain places no matter what choices you make), but the scene-to-scene interactions with other characters can go differently depending on what you said to them earlier, or who you sided with on particular issues. Early on, your character Lee is told of the importance of honesty with strangers. Characters WILL remember what you say to them, and it could either redeem you or cause you to get on that character’s bad side later. Again, this may not alter the broader scope of the story, but it succeeds in giving your decisions a lot of weight, but each I got caught in a lie or disappoint Clementine, I cringed a little inside, or felt bad about it. My point is, it immerses you immediately, and it is set up in such a way that you grow attachment to these characters and their opinions of you without even noticing yourself.

Of course, it’s not all just lies and politics, sometimes (a bit more often than you’d think) the game will force you to make terrible choices, by which I mean that you’ll be expected to choose one person to save over another. Again, the game does an excellent job making you care about the characters, who you’ll later be forced to chose between, equally. There’s no winning, and saving both people. The other will die, and you have absolutely no time to reason with yourself on the advantages on saving one over the other, you simply have to act. Every major decision has a distinct consequence, and you’re never going to feel good about it. Even if you’re choosing the lesser of two evils in some cases, there are others where it is simply equally evil. Other times, you’re faced with a situation that is so bad that it cannot possibly have any good decision attached to it, and yet you are forced to act. It’s terrible and fascinating at the same time.

As far as the horror genre goes, I’m actually far more attracted to games than, say, movies or television. The inclusion of the interactive component makes horror work for me, because it gives you a feeling the other mediums don’t. It gives you a visceral feeling of dread, uncertainty, and that anything could happen, but more importantly it makes it all up to you or at least gives the illusion to. It’s easier watching a show or movie and being glad you’re not the one in the situation having to make these hard decisions, but in an interactive medium like games, you’re expected to. It’s a style of narrative that does not exist anywhere else.

Want to try The Walking Dead? It’s currently on sale for 25% off on Steam, and $18.74 (normally $24.99) USD will get you all five episodes. Well worth the money in my opinion.

-Joe

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Do you enjoy our content? Consider leaving a comment to start a discussion, or share with your gaming circle. Don’t worry about the dead, it’s the living you gotta watch out for.

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I am currently playing these awesome (or not awesome, whichever the case may be) games:

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Coming Soon: Link Cable – A Let’s Play Series With Good Feelings

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Link Cable is a Let’s Play type of show where Erik and I (Joe) play and discuss game mechanics, story, design, and why we value them as a creative medium. We play some good games, some bad games, and some teetering in the middle somewhere, but most importantly we have fun doing it.

We’ve been wanting to do this type of thing for a while, and now it’s almost here. Links will be coming soon, as well as our first videos, so keep an eye out on our blog!

fhatsk8er – Infinity Mijinion (MMX6) Guitar Cover.

I found this musician on YouTube this morning who, in my opinion, does very impressive guitar covers of game music, such as Mega Man, Zelda, Chrono Trigger, and Breath of Fire, and more. It’s hard to match the effect of some of Mega Man X’s music in particular, but he seems to achieve it (and surpass it in cases) quite well. Want to see what I mean? Check out that video.

I’ve already subbed.

We are now a shiny new entity, but also the same exact one as before.

The blog, Show Me Your Pixels, is now http://www.showmeyourpixels.net! I’m quite happy to be in control of the site, and I am looking forward to making more content for it in the future. Also, instead of just having the normal text posts, I will soon be uploading some audio recordings. You guys like audio, right?

The Millions and Me: Individuality in an MMORPG [Guild Wars 2 Reflection]

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Image Credit: ArenaNet

I am largely impressed with Guild Wars 2 as a game, and even more so as an MMO. I am much more accustomed for this genre to prevent you from making decisions on how you would like to play until the game decides you’ve put in your time, reached a certain level, or have gathered a number of collectibles that vary in frivolity.Guild Wars 2 is of the philosophy that your time is not to be wasted (thank you) and gives you more options up front as to how you would like to spend it in game. It breaks down barriers of entry, but ones that didn’t really have to be there in the first place (more on that later).

That’s my favorite thing about it, but the aspect I’d like to consider today is your place among all of the other adventuring scoundrels in Tyria. Another one of the game’s shining beliefs is that your choices matter and affects the world. This can happen on a small scale, such as helping to rally a fallen player that you’ve stumbled across while adventuring (savin’ lives feels good man), or on a larger scale with commanding siege groups and taking keeps or stomping on big ol’ dragons. The sense of satisfaction feels amazing, but not quite as much as feeling like you’re making a difference. This is a crucial part of any social game, and one that ArenaNet executes with confidence. Why is it crucial? Well, consider basic human needs. We like to be appreciated for our actions, right? That’s essentially what drives most of our decisions in life, online or off.

This is also accomplished through tangible rewards, such as chests with loot or titles for your character. Not only do you get rewarded through gameplay, you get something to show for it too. Like a badge of honor, or friendship, or something. Every choice is rewarded in some way, though, not just by doing static quests, but participating in all aspects of the game. I even got some XP from saying hello to a guard. I’m such a good neighbor.

Have you played Guild Wars 2? Do you enjoy MMOs? It’s a game that I would highly recommend if you’re looking for another massive world to explore, but also if you value a game that will properly reward you for your time. It’s also worth mentioning that the game has a ridiculously high entertainment value for the price. With no monthly fees, you’re not going to be pressured into playing it every day either. See what I mean about respecting your time now?

-Joe

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Do you enjoy our content? Consider leaving a comment to start a discussion, or share with your gaming circle. Proceeds are non-existant, and therefore do not help starving children.

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I am currently playing these awesome (or not awesome, whichever the case may be) games:


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gw2sgsa3

When You Love Someone, And That Someone Is Video Games.

I’ve realized for some time that I immensely enjoy playing and discussing video games.

This interest may or may not be fulfilling in any way other than as a hobby, but at this point in my life I’m fairly sure I appreciate the medium more than the average person. It might be more than just a little presumptuous to say that, but I know plenty of people who are more casual fans, or aren’t aware/interested in the trivia, the history, or what it takes to make games.

That isn’t to say the more contingent crowd who play mostly for enjoyment aren’t appreciative of the craft, but I’m willing to bet that they don’t devote as much time to the more esoteric principles of game making, or even game history. That’s really what separates the book-a-day reader from the everyday one, or the gearheads from the uninitiated car enthusiast. There’s always a niche group who wish to know as much about something as they can, so they more or less make it their life. That’s the geek mindset in a nutshell, really.

I guess you could say I’m in the more “unrefined enthusiast, but still absorbed” party. I know enough to discuss game design, mechanics, characters, history, structure, etc. However, I don’t know how to make a game (I’ve read about the process, but that’s all). I really, really want to, but until then I wouldn’t consider myself on level with people who have. That isn’t to say people who make games know more than those who don’t, but they’ve at least spent time under the hood, as it were, immersed in beyond just playing but also crafting an experience.

Eventually, I will reach that tier, I think. It’s impossible to dump all of this video game-related knowledge I’ve picked up, so it makes sense to me to keep trudging down that path. I’m constantly and consistently obsessed with the culture, and I’m desperately attempting to find a way to make that work for me as a career, if at all possible. If there is a way that applies to my strengths, I will find a way to make it happen.

Until then, I continue to dream.

-Joe

P.S. I also am in unflinching love with my girlfriend. So, Sam, thanks for not throwing a grenade at my shiny new gaming PC yet from all the hours it has claimed from me.

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Do you enjoy our content? Consider leaving a comment to start a discussion, or share with your gaming circle. It’s all good, yo.

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I am currently playing these awesome (or not awesome, whichever the case may be) games:

csgw2sgsa3