Respect for Lara Croft

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The new Tomb Raider is a classic recreation of the themes present in Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey – but wow, what an experience. 

This game caught me by complete surprise. I’m not sure why, I just wasn’t expecting to be blown away. I was. With stunning vistas & graphics that are an assault on your senses, things that spring to mind include, grittiness, the weather, the zip line, a created artificial history that feels right, intense, fast-paced, seamless integration of cinematic sequences with gameplay, the weather, the feeling of being an explorer in an open world (although it’s essentially on rails), choice v illusion of choice, control (or lack of), fantastic violence & interactive media. It’s this last point that has me intrigued for the future direction of games.

Gaining in popularity it seems is this trend of immersing the player in what can be best described as an interactive narrative/movie. The nuanced view in the literature between Interactive Narrative Design, Interactive Storytelling, Interactive Media & the debates that rage between academics & designers about whether a game’s primary aim should be to tell a story or whether the stories in games can ever be as meaningful as the stories in film and literature are irrelevant to me.

I don’t really care about the opposite views of Ludologists & Narratologists (see Game Design As Narrative Architecture by Jenkins), what i was drawn into in Tomb Raider was a form of entertainment in which I felt like I was influencing a dramatic storyline through interactions with the narrative. The game wasn’t difficult or long – but it didn’t need to be.

The long cinematic sequences that merged seamlessly with the gameplay of Tomb Raider offers a diversity to many of the titles available and appeals to those that like a strong narrative component. It has me thinking:

  • What exactly is interactivity in games?
  • How much control should be afforded to players?
  • As players, how much control do we actually want?

I give it a 10/10.

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