Last week at Doc/Fest I had the pleasure of sitting on a panel about story games in the very fine company of Alice ‘Wonderland‘ Taylor, Paula ‘Bus.Tops‘ Le Dieu, Adrian ‘Smokescreen‘ Hon and Mike ‘Routes‘ Bennett. Paula asked us some unforgivably tough questions, like ‘what are games?’ and ‘what is story?’ and the audience threw us the odd paedophilia related curve-ball, but I’d say we held our end up.
Where I didn’t hold my end up was in preparing any kind of presentation. Mostly out of laziness, of course, but partly because I didn’t trust myself in any way, shape or form, to keep within the five minutes allotted. So instead I made a stupid toy, reducing an otherwise intelligent, informed debate into a round of bingo.
Making it – other than my incredible oversight in missing out Ico and Braid, which Mike and Adrian (respectively) were quick to correct me on – it did strike me how limited our range of references is when we talk about the whole subject of the stories games tell. I’m sure you could suggest all kinds of improvements in the 24 games I’ve picked (wot no The Longest Journey? etc), but I’m equally sure you could get a decent score at almost any games-and-stories talk or panel with it as it stands. Good thing that we have a shared set of cultural references to measure complex ideas against, or bad thing that there is so little that is interesting – or well known enough – to get a mention? Both, probably.
The other thing that it made me think was, why are there so few PowerPoint games? If Excel is equal to Sonic and flight simulators, shouldn’t PowerPoint have a wider following among game makers? Other than a legion of middle-school teachers making vocab tests and evolution quizzes, and some frankly rather demoralising Choose Your Own Adventure templates, I couldn’t find much. If only someone, somewhere would rise to the challenge and make the ultimate PowerPoint story game then I could add it to my ultimate story PowerPoint and then probably embarrass myself on stage by mucking up all the hyperlinking.
In the very unlikely event you’d like to join in the fun, here’s the file.