Time Isn't After Us

I have a few different posts I've been working on, but they require a bit of research. So as I outline and get those going, I was letting a few weeks go by without a post.

I don't really have much of a goal here; this is actually just an excuse to write something that isn't for publication. Not that I have anything against it, but my writing outside of freelance work has been lagging. I was picking away at some fiction again, though there's not much to tell. It's an idea I have been working on for quite some time.

What I have been thinking about is the nature of narrative. I recently played a cool game, Framed. It's a Noir story that takes place in a comic format of panels. As your characters try to escape the police, you have to arrange the panels so events happen in the right order. As the game advances, you can then reuse panels revisiting places you've already been.

Flexible narratives are nothing new in video games. Novel and cinema had long experimented with the idea that time wasn't always linear. I feel like time in video games has always been especially flexible. In open world games, often everything waits as you drive around on rampages searching for hidden secrets. Soldiers wait at attention, guns drawn, waiting for you to arrive around a corner.

There are many games that don't do this. Where the AI hunts you, or events continue to move along as you waste time. I just think that it's something that makes games a more flexible storytelling medium. I think that it's possible to make games where you explore the same event from multiple perspectives. We can explore the idea of the different experiences driven by changes in perspective.

There're quite a few indie games that have begun to play with these ideas. Breaking the expectations of cause and effect is just one way that designers can play with our senses.

Photo Credit: Franklin Heijnen

Mike M

Mike M

I have written various kind of reviews for years. I currently write for Make Use Of. I used to write for Digital Entertainment News, Macgasm, and the Examiner. My day job is as an IT monkey. Follow me on Twitter.