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Where literature and gaming collide

Where literature and gaming collide:

Game narratives tend to drink from a narrow pond; they swig space operas and Tolkien, swish them about their mouths and trickle them into rows of polished glasses.

There’s nothing wrong with science fiction and fantasy, just as there’s nothing wrong with escapism. But there is something wrong with lazy writing, with cynical pandering to an assumed audience. It’s a good thing then that games are deepening, diversifying; that there are now game developers who draw on increasingly complex sources to inform and shape the works they make. Literary fiction has seen a growing presence in game design. While story often exists in order to thread together puzzles or rooms of enemies, some games are letting their writing spill out of pure functionality, instead taking inspiration from works which do more than push an easy plot. Take Kentucky Route Zero, whose creators - Jake Elliot and Tamas Kemenczy of Cardboard Computer - point to literature and theatre as sources of inspiration.

"Some of our first points of reference when sketching and imagining Kentucky Route Zero were in fiction - the magical realism of Gabriel Garcia Márquez and the southern gothic of Flannery O’Connor," say Elliot and Kemenczy. "We also looked early on at theatre scripts. That ended up being extremely important to us, in characterisation and dialogue and also the environment design and treatment of space, lighting and movement."

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