John Walker's Electronic House

5 Comments for this entry

  • Sarah

    What a thoughtful and interesting piece. I had no idea video games and the universal language of narrative could be written up together like that. Good job.

  • Thomas

    A great article, but I can’t shake the feeling that you’re missing something important.

    It’s true that the imagery of something like Monkey Island sticks in the head, and is made far more real in the imagination and the memory then the graphics could ever support simply due to your involvement in the game.

    It is often my experience that, on returning to older games, I am shocked by how poor the graphics are. At first I thought this was because I am spoiled by the shininess of the present day, but I’m now thinking that it’s simply that the images in my head were far more vibrant than the ones on screen, and it’s those I remember.

    But this isn’t just about narrative. As you yourself admit, other games (such as those with strong multiplayer) admit memorable experience despirtte a seeming lack of narrative. This needs more exploration.

  • bob_arctor

    Well, it’s an interesting one.

    Surely though Chaos: Battle of the Wizards is the most imagination based game around? You may see some poor sprites with two frames of animation but to you it’s your dragon army, with you riding along with them on a manticor. Those green things? A slowly expanding army of toxic sludge, rendered shiny and glistening, consuming all.

    But where is the narrative beyond the indivual tale of a deathmatch?

    How do the crazy freeware japanese shoot-em-ups come in?

    Mew CD is a visual feast, it’s constant explosions and snakes tearing round the screen. What would that be without good graphics?

    Plus there is the argument of what you do with your graphics. Thief II looked far better than its dull successor because of the brilliant architecture and design, despite its ancient engine (even then).

  • admin

    See, calling Thief: Deadly Shadows “dull” just makes your otherwise valid arguments look idiotic.

  • Andy Krouwel

    Did you ever play Alter Ego, John?

    The designer, a psychologist, deliberately made the game’s text short and simple, so you filled in the rest from your own background. You tie otherwise unrelated scenes together using your imagine-o-brain. Still works well today, and that’s twenty years on. It only really breaks down when you run into the occasional American cultural reference.