[Literary Games Group] 29/7/20 Paratopic and Exploring Literary Gaming

Today we read the next chapter of the book Literary Gaming – “Playing With Rather Than By Rules” in which we examined games as not just entertainment, but as political tools and weapons for activism and hacktivism, which is how such a popular medium will likely be used more and more as we begin to enter a more mature age of video game storytelling.

There are also several different ludology theories we learned about, my favourite concept being that of Johan Huizinga’s “magic circle” – the space and state that we enter when we play a game, where we buy into the fantasy or essentially “sign a contract” with the game allowing you to be immersed and follow rules that are different from the regular world, whether they be scientific or ethical rules.
Over the next week, we’ll be looking at the next chapter, which you can read here if you are interested.

Later in the session we booted up the short 2018 game, Paratopic, which I have played before but was keen to introduce the other members of the group to. The developers (Arbitrary Metric) themselves describe it best, saying that “Paratopic [is] an atmospheric retro-3D horror adventure through a cursed fever dream.” It subverts how we regularly experience video game stories and challenges our interpretation of events by making things deliberately unclear. It is an excellent, very unique, game that I have been a fan of since I played it last year, which I can highly recommend to anyone who is interested in non-linear narrative and experimental video games.

Interestingly, when asked to describe how the game made them feel, the player and viewers who hadn’t played the game could only say – “I don’t know”, and  “disgusted” which I believe means that the game is doing its job very well, utilizing its game design and story together to create a potent experience, like a forbidden game you stumbled across in an archive somewhere.

Hope to see you around, looking forward to seeing what kinds of literary games other people have played and recommend!

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