Creativity Module: Selection | Gaming

I’ve been looking forward to doing the modules since the very first day. Many of the options for the creativity section stand out to me and I am eager to learn and work with the tools and material within each one. However, we can only work on one (unless we finish early). I knew right away I wanted to do the gaming module. (or interactive fiction if no one else wants to do gaming)

I love video games and my career goal is to work in the gaming industry so this module is perfect for me to learn in a structured manner about the video game industry and about what goes into making a game. Since I’m a Comp Sci major I have some experience coding simple game mechanics and text-based adventures, but I haven’t yet been able to take one of my ideas and turn it into a fully-fledged product (even a simple flash game would be cool). For the career positions I’m leaning towards, it’s important to have a portfolio of works coupled with experience working with a team to be considered a competitive candidate. I feel like being able to use my list of game ideas and learn how to turn those ideas into the real deal will help strengthen my portfolio and also provide a new avenue for me to explore and improve my works in the future.

Ignoring the career aspect of my reasoning, I simply enjoy gaming. The very first game I remember playing was the 3D Pinball Space Cadet game on my father’s laptop. Since then I’ve played flash games, MMOs, MOBAs, platformers, mobile games, RPGs, FPS, tabletop, and simulation games. Currently, I mainly play games such as Dead by Daylight (an all-time fav.), The Sims 4, Depth, Monster Prom, Life is Strange, Rainbow Six Siege, Oxygen not Included, Overwatch, and Rocket League. Fusion Fall was the very first MMORPG I ever played until it shut down. (I discovered a team of programmers and FusionFall fans who recovered the game and rebuilt it, as well as began developing their own spin on the game) The gaming community is a tight-knit group (even with some bad apples) who share a love of games. Each genre has its own community hub, and each individual game has its own smaller community. It’s a wonderful web of shared experiences and adventures that people across continents can experience together.

I’m a firm believer that a game is a piece of art that is meant to create a unique experience for their audience (the player). Whether that experience is meant as a moral, an emotion, a behavior, or memory. Games vary a ton. There are action-packed games like Rainbow Six Siege or Call of Duty, and there are games like Animal Crossing or Stardew Valley. There are even games that tackle incredibly serious topics such as loss, anxiety, disease, and fear. One of my favorite games that illustrate the journey of a family coping with their youngest child having cancer, is called That Dragon, Cancer. It is a story-driven game that is — for the most part — an observational experience. The player witnesses metaphorical imagery listens to voice dialogue of the family and gets to know the child as he battles cancer. Even with little combat or opportunities for the player to change the course of the game, the areas and mechanics in which the player can interact with the game create an emotional impact and experience that stays with the user even after the game is over.

For example, in That Dragon, Cancer there is an area of the game where the family is in the hospital and there are cards throughout the entire level that the player can open and read. All of the letters were written by real people to their real family members who have either lost or won their battles with cancer. Even though the interaction is a simple click to open, the events that occur after opening the card (reading the letter) creates a memory within the player that invokes an emotional response, connecting them with the experience.

Other story games accomplish this effect with more interaction, but still manage to delve into difficult life situations. In Life is Strange, the player controls a character named Max. The game is a typical “Your choices affect the story and character relationships so choose wisely” but the twist is that Max has the ability to turn back time. This mechanic allows the player to test out every branch of the storyline until they settle on the one they want to pursue. Max’s supernatural ability also allows her to change the events outside of dialogue as well, often having her use time rewind to save a friend or to cause something to happen. There are many difficult decisions Max faces within the game that reflect the struggles of social relationships and how to help those you care about without causing unexpected events down the line.

I know this is a ton of reading, thank you for making it this far. I could go on all day about a single game or a sub-genre and how I believe it makes a good or bad experience. If any of these games interest you, I highly recommend checking them out (the first episode of Life is Strange is free). Thank you for reading. ☺

And if there end up not being enough people who are interested in doing the gaming module I’d like to try out the interactive fiction module, to help better my storytelling skills using mainly text.