Symposium: Life is Strange, February 4, 2016

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Building on our conversations over the last few symposium around content development and delivery in computer games, let’s consider the rise of the episodic video game genre in recent years. Is it purely a result of the economic demands of the form? Are games becoming so expensive to produce that companies must turn to DLC for both mechanical and narrative expansions? Could the cause be rooted in the explosion of mobile gaming and the expectations of shorter games and sessions by consumers? Or is it is some conglomeration of price, platform, attention spans, and something else?

As an example of the form that calls for the player to consider the way in which their decisions seemingly matter while, paradoxically, asking for an “undoing” of those same actions, Life is Strange exists as one of a growing number episodic video games while also subverting many of the characteristics that have come to settle within the genre such as narrative linearity and a greater emphasis on the finality of choices. As part of our conversation on the game, let’s examine the following questions:

  • Is the rise of episodic video games a result of the nexus of forces present in the current computer games market, or is it a revisiting of past development practices in new form?
  • Does Life is Strange subvert any expectations of what an episodic video game should be? Or does it conform to the Telltale style of “remembrance?”
  • How does the mechanical actions of “taking pictures” in Life is Strange match with the themes of memory and eraser? Does this speak to underlining nature of computer games as a “series of interesting choices” later reviewed as snapshots in time?

We’ll talk this Thursday, February 4, 2016 over Skype, at 9:30pm EST / 6:30pm PST.

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