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by G. Christopher Williams

16 Nov 2016


I beat Zero Time Dilemma, a 20+ hour game, in five minutes.

This actually wasn’t hard to accomplish. Zero Time Dilemma‘s narrative structure is based on a series of branching storylines, the root of which is a choice determined by a coin flip. I won that coin flip. The nine potential victims of the maniacal Zero were saved from having to experience his series of puzzles and death traps as the result of my lucky guess. The credits rolled.

by G. Christopher Williams

12 Oct 2016


The board game Posthuman offers its players two potential win-states, the first, a fairly common one, the victory of the individual, the second, an extremely unusual one in a competitive game, a communal victory. This is a really strange tension in a competitive game, and one that seems at odds with our expectations about the principles of competition. Essentially, Posthuman suggests that if a player can’t win, then they can damn well make sure that everyone wins.

This idea seems at odds with competitive play, perhaps even more so, since more often than not when folks do compete knowing that they can’t win, then it’s our expectation, perhaps, that they will choose a scorched earth strategy: if I can’t win, then no one should win. In both instances, the ideas that a single player should win a game or that “if you can’t win, then no one should win” both seem like ones that lean heavily on the central importance of individualism to the competitive experience.

by G. Christopher Williams

5 Oct 2016


No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be; 
Am an attendant lord, one that will do 
To swell a progress, start a scene or two, 
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool, 
Deferential, glad to be of use, 
Politic, cautious, and meticulous; 
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse; 
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous— 
Almost, at times, the Fool. 
—T.S. Eliot, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Profrock”, 1915


The premise of Westworld is made clear pretty early on in its first episode. Westworld is a kind of theme park, whose visitors lay out a big chunk of change to visit. Westworld simulates the Wild, Wild West through the creation of an environment that resembles our conception of 19th century America and a host of robots that appear like the citizens of an Old West town.

by G. Christopher Williams

28 Sep 2016


An image from one of the "True" Endings of Catherine (Atlus, 2011)

So, I did it. I finally managed to complete the 2010 classic horror game Amnesia (third times a charm, I guess). Knowing, as I did, that the game had multiple endings, though, I did that gamer thing. I reloaded the game’s final sequence two more times to also witness the game’s other two alternate endings.

My first playthrough resulted in what has been dubbed the “good ending”, my second completion was the game’s “neutral ending”, and finally I finished the game up with the “bad ending”. In particular, it was this ending, which fans call the bad ending, that gave me some pause. To me from both a narrative perspective and from a personal perspective, this “bad ending” seemed like the best ending possible. It seemed to me to be the most appropriate ending to the story of the amnesiac Daniel, ending the game with a conclusion that most clearly represented his final self realization and response to regaining his memory. In that ending, Daniel essentially destroys himself, allowing the shadow that has been hunting him throughout the game to catch up to him and kill him.

by G. Christopher Williams

21 Sep 2016


Amnesia: The Dark Descent (Frictional Games, 2010)

It seems to me that of many conventionally understood narrative genres, horror is a genre that has some particular peculiarities in regard to the relationship between its audience and whatever form of media that horror takes, be it film, novels, or video games. What I want to describe, I could probably also connect to other genres as well, but I think that horror (and, perhaps, comedy as well) requires more of its audience in regard to the attitude with which that audience approaches its material to begin with. There is a kind of contract, perhaps, that horror seems to almost require its audience to sign off on, a responsibility towards the form, that often is not so explicitly asked of the audiences of other narrative genres.

What I mean by this is that horror is somewhat more easily “ruined” in some way if the audience chooses to take the wrong attitude towards the material of horror itself. The audience of a film or reader of a novel or player of a video game can potentially and quite deliberately wreck the mood and atmosphere that horror intends if they want to. If, for example, one approaches a work of horror with the idea that horror is in itself necessarily campy, it is pretty easy to break the mood intended by a slasher film. You can laugh off the situations the characters find themselves in (and allow themselves to get into), the gore, the grotesqueness, etc., etc. by simply taking the proper pose in relation to these elements of that subgenre. Frankly, simply throwing open the windows to let sunshine explode into the room while one plays a survival horror game can rend the atmosphere of a horror game apart rather readily.

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