Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Blips: A Life More Ordinary

Source: Beauty in the ordinary
Author: Kris Graft
Site: Gamasutra (blog)

I'm loving this post from Kris Graft about the virtues of games that focus on "the ordinary." Graft sets this up by contrasting the views of his Midwestern existence with those of his city-dwelling friends, and vice versa. It's all a matter of perspective of course, and so what one views as an ordinary day means significantly different things depending on setting. Having grown up in the Midwest and now having spent the past 5 years living in east coast cities, these points of contrast are starkly illustrated in my mind. If I change cities again, what will I miss from my previous sense of ordinary, and what what will I be happy to be rid of?

I was likewise drawn to meta-ordinary games like The Stanley Parable last year for their powerful examination of both ordinariness in human existence and ordinariness in gameplay. The literal approach in a game like The Stanley Parable isn't the only way to go about it though, and in fact it's likely a trend that will fizzle out before long (how many obscure simulators can the market realistically support?). Any game world can establish a sense of the ordinary, given the time and space to do so. What do the characters do when they're not embroiled in the craziest thing that's ever happened to them. And no, those quiet comedown moments of fireside chatting in the wake of a tragedy don't count. I want to see when those characters return home and go back to work. What does the extraordinary look like once it reverts back to the ordinary.

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