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  1. #1
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    I ask for your ideas on games with "analyzable" stories

    Next semester I will be taking some kind of writing class. Though, this writing class is based on video games. The big project that will be the final is to write an essay on a game's story in the same way that someone would write an essay on a book.

    I don't have any directives such as "look for a theme regarding X" or anything, I get to choose what I write about, including the game.

    Here is where I ask for your aide rpsers. Can you think of any games that actually have a plot/story substantial enough that it could be thoroughly analyzed?

  2. #2
    Network Hub Herzog's Avatar
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    Planescape:Torment

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Herzog View Post
    Planescape:Torment
    Just read the wikipedia article on that. It does seem pretty cool. The play between immortality and mortality in the game is interesting.

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    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    Pick any western RPG ever and the theme is pretty much always the same: Fighting against death itself.
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  5. #5
    Try a little sex and death in Silent Hill 2.

    http://www.gamesetwatch.com/2007/07/...g_the_mind.php

  6. #6
    Lesser Hivemind Node Kaira-'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr.Honeyslut View Post
    Try a little sex and death in Silent Hill 2.

    http://www.gamesetwatch.com/2007/07/...g_the_mind.php
    God damn, beaten to it. This and Planescape would've been my suggestions, and both can be easily analyzed to death. Of more recent ones I'd guess you could say Dark Souls, but it may be too vague and spell too little out to be analyzed properly. Maybe.

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    As a lit grad, what I would not suggest is picking the most obviously "complex" narrative and jumping on it. You'll end up waffling about events and not doing much close analysis. Perhaps you should pick a thematic or critical approach first and then pick titles around that.

    What I would suggest is that you don't just do games that you enjoy, simply because you enjoy them. I once put Battlestar Galactica in a multi-format essay and it was by far the worst thing I did all year.

    Try choosing games which approach narrative from an interesting position. That is to say, pick games about which you will actually be able to write something.

  8. #8
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Fanbuoy's Avatar
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    I don't have a contribution right now, but I want to point out that Planescape: Torment is a classic and perhaps a too obvious example. There's nothing wrong with that per se, but perhaps you want something a little less expected? Sorry, I don't want to be all pessimistic..

    EDIT: I realize it probably isn't acceptable as it isn't a pre-written story, but some of the best stories I've encountered in gaming are from Crusader Kings 2. If it's somehow within the limitations that would be a kick-ass take on the assignment.

    EDIT 2: Some ideas:
    *GTA IV - While the story isn't its strong point IMHO it does try to convey one and it's definitely analyzable.
    *The Fallout series
    *Any game based on a book, such as Metro 2033 or the Witcher games.
    *Haven't played, but seem likely to work: System Shock, Alan Wake, L.A. Noire and Max Paynes.
    Last edited by Fanbuoy; 06-09-2012 at 11:51 PM.

  9. #9
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Kelron's Avatar
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    Human Revolution would be a decent choice. Its themes aren't exactly subtle, but there's quite a lot going on there. The main thing that draws me to it is that your actions while playing relate to the theme of the story, it sounds obvious but it's surprisingly rare in gaming. There's also lots of obvious angles you could explore such as parallels with real world prejudice or fear of technology.

  10. #10
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Tikey's Avatar
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    Gemini Rue has a strong subject and deals with some themes in some clever ways.

    It even has a commentary mode detailing the thought process.
    Last edited by Tikey; 07-09-2012 at 01:04 AM.

  11. #11
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    Far Cry 2. Obviously it's inspired by Heart of Darkness, to the point where the final stretch forces you on foot through a fetid jungle section called Heart of Darkness where the villains lurk. But the perspective is reversed - you're a goon indulging in the madness. Africa is hell on Earth. The buddy system and its brutal end are very interesting. I'm sure there's a lot to say about the procedural narrative and player agency. There might be more to say about the technique than about the content, but if oddities like Dictionary of the Khazars can be the subject of deep analysis, so can Far Cry 2.

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    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Casimir Effect's Avatar
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    Planescape is the best choice I can think of, however it is quite a long game and you really do have to explore as much of the game as possible in order to truly get every part of the story.

    Games I'd suggest for a less daunting task would be Dreamfall (or The Longest Journey); NWN2: Mask of the Betrayer (a complete, very good Let's Play of which can be found here), which is often regarded as a spiritual successor to Planescape but a whole lot shorter; Deus Ex: Human Revolutions could also work well; or perhaps Bastion, which many enjoy the deliberately-minimal story of.

    EDIT: FarCry 2 could also be really good for it, as mentioned above, but much of the story comes from the player experiences and not from the in-game world.
    Last edited by Casimir Effect; 06-09-2012 at 11:52 PM.

  13. #13
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus pakoito's Avatar
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    Stanley Parable on breaking the 4th wall and human choice. This one is almost a freebie.

  14. #14
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Kadayi's Avatar
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    Spec Ops: The line

    Passable game (my recommendation is play it on easy), but it does some quite interesting things in terms of narrative and your role as the player guiding the experience plus there's a lot of developer interviews out there about the games story line.
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  15. #15
    Network Hub Hensler's Avatar
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    Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 or 3.

  16. #16
    Lesser Hivemind Node fiddlesticks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Casimir Effect View Post
    Planescape is the best choice I can think of, however it is quite a long game and you really do have to explore as much of the game as possible in order to truly get every part of the story.

    Games I'd suggest for a less daunting task would be Dreamfall (or The Longest Journey); NWN2: Mask of the Betrayer (a complete, very good Let's Play of which can be found here), which is often regarded as a spiritual successor to Planescape but a whole lot shorter; Deus Ex: Human Revolutions could also work well; or perhaps Bastion, which many enjoy the deliberately-minimal story of.
    All of these are great choices. Planescape: Torment is really the quintessential example of video game storytelling and worth a playthrough even if you're not going to pick it for your project. It focuses heavily on human nature and the way our actions influence our environment. I'd also add Knights of the Old Republic 2 to the list, which was written by the same person as Torment and deals with similar themes. Though for an extensive analysis you'd probably have to play the first instalment as well. And speaking of Human Revolution, the original Deus Ex might also be worth a look. It's less focused than its sequel but it draws from a ton of literary sources and thus can be analyzed in a lot of different ways.

    If you want something horror-oriented that isn't Silent Hill 2, System Shock and its sequel are worthy choices. If you're looking for more recent examples, there's Bioshock and Bioshock 2, both of which deal with major political ideologies (libertarianism and communism respectively). I'd say their execution is somewhat clumsy in parts, but sometimes analyzing flawed storytelling can be just as insightful as analyzing good storytelling.

    Edit: Or if you want to be creative, explain to your teacher how the Half-Life series is really a satire of the English Civil War with Gordon Freeman representing Oliver Cromwell.
    Last edited by fiddlesticks; 07-09-2012 at 12:20 AM.

  17. #17
    Lesser Hivemind Node Wheelz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kadayi View Post
    Spec Ops: The line

    Passable game (my recommendation is play it on easy), but it does some quite interesting things in terms of narrative and your role as the player guiding the experience plus there's a lot of developer interviews out there about the games story line.
    I +1 this suggestion. My understanding is that it's pretty much "Heart of Darkness": The Game, it has a fairly "against the grain" type plot, and it should be relatively easy to analyse.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by pakoito View Post
    Stanley Parable on breaking the 4th wall and human choice. This one is almost a freebie.

    But isn't that more about looking at a game itself

  19. #19
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    I've not yet played it, but isn't To the Moon said to have a good story? I have clue on how well it would take to analysis, however. I'd also second Dark Souls, but there is so much that is just complete speculation that it could be a nightmare to write about.

    Also, it was on consoles, but I rather liked the story of Enslaved: Odyssey to the West. Spoilers: It takes place in a post-apocalyptic future (think cities overgrown by jungle). The short of it is, the few surviving people are living on the run, hiding from a group of sentient robots who are rounding them up into big ships and taking them who knows where. After fighting your way through hundreds of robots and reaching their home base, you find out they are actually being controlled by an old man, who has been rounding people up to plug them into a virtual reality (the Matrix) in order to end their suffering in the wasteland. He even offers you the chance to be linked up to it and see for yourself that he only means well. It turns out it's beautiful, almost heavenly. Just as you are enjoying watching families play in a park, birds flying overhead, etc., your partner pulls the plug and destroys the machine, for everyone. She looks to you and says, "I did the right thing. Right?" I honestly wasn't sure if she had or not. It's one of the few games I've finished where the ending really stuck with me for weeks after I stopped playing.

    Anyway, supposedly the game is a retelling of this 16th century Chinese novel:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Journey_to_the_West
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  20. #20
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    Far Cry 2 is an interesting one, but I'd have to recommend Deadly Premonition (though you'd have to get an Xbox to play, the horror).

    By far the most successful 'naturalistic' story in videogames, I think.

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