Always a Good Sign
So I’m writing my term paper for Bogost’s design class on The World Ends With You. I’ve written about it once before from the perspective of a playable interactive map. Now I’m tackling the controls and its ludonarrative coupling. I’ve decided to begin the work with an introduction arguing for recognition of a new thematic genre that I’m calling “the mutual reliance game.” I’ve written about the subject copiously before in regard to Left 4 Dead and (a bit tangentially) about Braid – where I think the player relies on the benevolence of the game’s creator to see her through. Anyhow, following Jason Rohrer’s assertion that game AI is “basically the same” as a second player, I’m going to focus solely on games with AI compatriots who are more than cattle to be escorted.
I feel like by critiquing this game a bit, we’ll be able to chip away at the essence of the difference between playing L4D with the AI, with friends, and with random pick-up groups. I kinda wished I’d saved writing about L4D for this class instead of for my 3D design one, but I feel like there’s a dearth of good writing about TWEWY. I need to do a bit more searching through academic writings, but the game is so relatively new and niche that I find it hard to believe that anybody with a professorship has gotten around to writing much about it yet. So far I’ve come up with a decent write-up (can’t find the link right now, my mind is burnt out) that Ray Vichot linked me from one of the only game blogs he can stomach and Yahtzee’s review as counterarguments. The first claims its a bit emo while covering at a surface level some of what I want to get at, and the latter is Yahtzee’s usual hyperbolic bullshit about ludonarrative dissonance. I paraphrase: “it’s a story about fuck-ing (that’s a British accent) Sesame Street values and all I’m doing is scribble-scrabbling with my stylus like a Japanese FRUiT maniac!” I love the guy, but he said the same thing about Braid.
I’m always afraid to write something in long form about video games, because I’m afraid what I’ll write has already been written about somewhere else on the web. I received a hearty bit of encouragement from Google! Typing in “mutual reliance” will list this blog as the top search. Typing “mutual reliance in games” will do the same, and it won’t turn up much else. Perhaps game bloggers have a problem with tagging? Get with web 3.0, people. In any case, I’m moving forward confident that I kinda came up with the idea on my own. This is an invitation to please write in the comment section: “Gotcha Bitch! (insert an academic’s name here) already wrote about it here (insert link here for me to build my citations)!”