Susan O’Connor knew from the age of four that she wanted to be a writer. What she didn’t know was that she would grow up to work in the videogame industry, where the audience runs wild. “In games, agency matters,” says O’Connor. “Players want to control the action.” Out of necessity and desperation, she (and writers like her) have found new ways to tell their stories.
Like magicians palming quarters, some game developers hide their plots in plain sight. Their sleight-of-hand gives players the freedom they expect and the storylines they demand. But these magic tricks come at a surprising cost. What are these game narratives telling us about our world – and ourselves?
Games in O’Connor’s portfolio have sold over ten million copies and generated more than half a billion dollars in sales. In her thought-provoking TEDxBeaconStreet talk, O’Connor spills the beans about what she’s learned about writing, illusion, and desire.
A native of Austin, O’Connor now lives in San Francisco and splits her time between game projects, TV assignments, and surfing.
In October I was very privileged to attend a dinner organised by Bergen International Film Festival - BIFF (falls under the category “Love my job”). Here I met a very enthusiastic gaming man named Erik. BIFF is one of, if not THE, largest international documentary film festivals and one of the things I adore about them is that they go out to schools and show important documentaries and discuss them. Erik was one of the discussers and when he got a whif of my gaming interests he went in a trance like state talking about this great gaming documentary that they were talking about at these schools. I have to admit, I wasn’t convinced – it sounded way too classroomy for my taste. But I gave it a go – and admitidly I too was smitten! The documentary was called “World Peace and other 4th grade achievements”. Here’s a little teaser:
I suppose we were all stunned in August, 2004 – when some thieves manage to just casually steal Munch‘s famous ‘Scream‘ and ‘Madonna’ paintings. And when I say casually – I mean just taking the darn things off the wall and running out of there!
“Silence plays out endless variations on this theme, as a two-player computer game installation: Wave your guns, find the paintings, and get the hell out. If nobody gets hurt, all is well. It’s the classic heist story, but with a twist: There is no flaky partner, no smart-ass heroes, and no wise-cracking cops. Too simple? Well, this time that’s the tune.”
The paintings have finally been retrieved! And the game is finally available for download! Yay!
And they warm my little ol’ heart when they also release the code under a Creative Commons license!! Bless them!!!
Latest is a game to see whether EA is good or bad! We, as readers, are urged to contribute our thoughts on EA with points towards ‘angel’ and ‘devil’! Very interesting!
I’m still trying to gather my thoughts on the subject! But it will definitely be in the back of my mind as I sit here at uni on a Saturday night trying to focus on producing good work and trying to surpass my self doubts!
If you have any thoughts on the subject I hereby urge you to contribute!!
“The mechanic I’m experimenting with is simpler. One person places their ships
using Google Earth and the other person goes out in the normal world with a
mobile phone, a GPS connected to the mobile phone. The phone has a small Python
script on it that reads the GPS and sends the data to the game engine, which
then updates the Google Earth KML model showing the current state of the game
grid. When the player who’s trying to sink the ships wants to try for a hit,
they call into the game engine and say “drop”. The game reads back the
coordinates at which the “peg” was dropped and shortly thereafter, the other
player will see the peg appear at the coordinate it was dropped. If the peg hits
one of the ships, it’s a Hit, otherwise it’s a miss. “
I don’t see myself putting up the effort, though. But I have to say…the ideas are just blossoming in my head on something I might actually want to do! I’m thinking games that may take a while though!
Yeah…I would know absolutely nothing interesting if it wasn’t for Mark Wallace.
Oooh…and this might not be the right place to write about this – but you REALLY should check out the Project Good Luck blog! It’s a bunch of MIT students who are on a trip to explore “social networks and their intersection with mobile media” in CHINA(I’m so freakin envious)!! I emphasise ‘really’ because I haven’t been in for a look since Henry Jenkins mentioned it (trying to be selective on my subscription feeds)….and they’ve really done a lot of cool stuff since then!!! Very enjoyable and EXTREMELY interesting!!!
“All in all, an envelope-pushing endeavor, in both form and content. Eventually, GAM3R 7H30RY will be published by a conventional press, but between now and then we’re trying to investigate new creative strategies in the peer-to-peer environment. We call this a ‘networked book’ — the book as social software. We’re hoping to spark discussion about that as well.” – copied from Boing Boing.
This according to Ben (Vershbow?) from The Insitute of the Future of the Book! This just combines everything that I love about my field of study – just like my thesis is beginning to do! I really do love this stuff! I haven’t read all of it yet – or contributed – but it seems GREAT! I was a bit troubled by the lack of references – but this is discussed in the forum – and it seems he’s going to do some linking to the bibliography! Oh how I’d love to hand in my thesis in this way!!
Before I design some lethal weapon to kill the bird that’s franticly chirping outside my window telling me that I’m still nowhere and it’s morning – I thought I might vent out a bit in here!
Last year I had an incredibly difficult time discussing narrative with my fellow students in Games and Game Culture! They just refused to discuss with me the meaning behind the aesthetics of the worlds we were playing in. I remember someone, slightly frustrated with me, explaining to me that narrative is something that has happened. You can’t be playing narrative because narrative is story telling and you’re not telling a story. When I then (stubborn as I sometimes can be) emphasised that the whole geography we were in (Prince of Persia at the time) was basically telling us something, they usually sighed and gave me a whole song and dance that it was all code. When I then further persisted in stating that “well the game designer must have had some intention by designing this temple that I just can’t seem to get out of!” – respons: “No, Linn!!! It’s all just obstacle to reach your goal!”.
This year, we’re commemorating the 100th anniversary of the death of Henrik Ibsen (is it just me or isn’t it a bit odd celebrating a great man’s death instead of his birth, although I’m sure we do that as well?).
Lots of innovative stuff is blossoming out of the woodwork from all over the world! I’ve truely been amazed several times.