(Photo by Brady Dale)
One way to change the conversation around video games is to open up the thinking about the kind of conflict that drives narrative games.
One way to open up those stories to more voices and create more space for more kinds of characters in those games is to have more kinds of stories.
As Francisco Gonzalez, a designer at Wadjet Eye Games, pointed out at IndieCade East this weekend, the conflict doesn’t always have to be the same. “Not every story has to be a global conspiracy or a ‘big bad,'” he said, during his talk this past Friday at the Museum of the Moving Image.
Gonzalez argued that one kind of conflict that could be used more often in games is “Person vs. Self.”
Remember the forms of conflict we learned in 9th-grade English? Most video games are Person vs. Person or Person vs. Society, but there’s no reason why a game couldn’t explore a person grappling with his or her own inner demons.
Gonzalez highlighted three games that have used this conflict to drive the narrative:
- Planescape Torment, 1999, for PCs. A “Dungeons and Dragons” roleplaying game where an immortal goes looking for his memories.
- Silent Hill 2, 2001, for PlayStation 2. A horror video game where your character is wandering through a town and confronting all these monsters, until you gradually realize that the monsters are all manifestations of his own fears and guilt. It introduces legendary horror character, Pyramid Head, who, in this game, is the chief manifestation of the protagonist’s desire to be punished for his wife’s death.
- A Golden Wake, 2014, for Steam. This is Gonzalez’s game for Wadjet Eye, a narrative based on real events. It seems like it’s a story about Man vs. Society, but, in truth, he’s really working against his own impulses. It’s a rise and fall story, based on actual events from real estate in the 1920s.
Gonzalez ran the talk to raise these questions:
- Why aren’t there more games like this?
- Do games have to be so driven by battle-oriented plots?
- Could intentionally looking at new kinds of conflict draw in new audiences for games?
- How invested are the people who play games in narrative over the gameplay itself?
Gonzalez told Technical.ly Brooklyn that he moved to New York from Miami in August 2013. He began working as a designer for Wadjet Eye this past November. He lives in Ditmas Park.
Check out his full game-making résumé at Grundislav Games.
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