“You are dead. Continue?”

Apparently I’ve placed myself in the center of a divisive issue with the publication of my new article, “‘You are dead. Continue?’: Conflicts and complements in game rules and fiction.” [Note: There are some spoilers in here, including for the ending of Shadow of the Colossus.]

The paper might look somewhat familiar to regular readers of Geek Studies, as it weaves together some strands I’ve been playing with here for awhile. I discuss how the trial-and-error approach to death and failure can be a frustrating narrative interruption in games where the characters, story, and emotional involvement are treated as comparably important to the gameplay mechanics. Some games in recent years, however, have offered different—and sometimes quite emotionally engaging—ways of thinking about death and failure.

So, what’s this divisive issue I speak of? Well, game studies scholars might call it “ludology” versus “narratology” (even if I see it as a bridge between these). Among gamers, though, it seems to boil down to “the way games have traditionally been” versus “the direction (some) games are headed.”

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