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One of my favourite games of 2015 has been DONTNOD’s Life is Strange. It’s a brilliant indie-film-coming-of-age-time-travel-story about a girl who’s recently returned to her home town and struggling to repair past friendships. Oh, and try to prevent the town from being destroyed by a crazy magical tornado, a disaster she might be able to avert by manipulating time.

No one would be able to claim that it’s a flawless game, but it does so much stunningly right that it’s going to be on my mind for a long time. At some point, I might need to write about how the gameplay works to mirror the emotions of the main character–Max–with the emotions of the player. That’s some fantastic stuff. But right now, there’s one thing that I was to focus on: pacing.

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From Zork to Halo and Back Again

This was originally written as a guest post for the website The Fictorians

When you start a conversation about storytelling in video games, it’s hard to not immediately jump to discussions about the writing in Halo, Call of Duty, Uncharted, God of War, and the other games that have graced living rooms across the globe. There’s a lot that can be said about the stories in these games–both how they’re written and how they’re presented. Some of these games tell expertly penned and deeply engaging stories, and there are some seriously talented people behind them. People like Ragnar Tornquist, Amy Hennig, and Chris Avellone have left their prints on the entire industry.

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Cheating death

Imagine you’re at a play–live theatre with an ensemble cast. The lights are dim, the set is immaculate, and the performances are impassioned and engaging.

And then, half an hour in, one of the actors flubs their line.

Instead of the other actors taking it in stride, everything stops. The stage goes dark, and you hear the director yell from offstage that they’re going to try it again from the top.

But it happens again, this time only ten minutes in. They restart again. And again.

It’s a pretty horrible way to tell a story.*

The sting of the Game Over screen is, often, no less awful, and for exactly the same reasons.

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