All posts tagged: videogames

Ekostories from the medium of videogames.

Mother 3 Sunflower fields

MOTHER 3, A Literary Video Game

MOTHER 3 tells a story most would not expect a videogame to tell. Written by Shigesato Itoi, an essayist, slogan maker, copyeditor, voice actor, famed blogger, short fiction collaborator (with Haruki Murakami), Iron Chef judge and fishing fan, MOTHER 3 is a deeply intimate tale that engages on both an intellectual and emotional level. Games journalist and developer Tim Rogers believes that it represents the closest a videogame has yet come to modern literature. For me, MOTHER 3 is art.

Earthbound Banner

What Earthbound Means to Me

Update: I would like to dedicate this past entry to Nintendo president Satoru Iwata, who suddenly passed away in July 2015 at the age of 55. The game discussed below would not have existed without his herculean programming efforts. The videogame industry has lost one of its greatest and kindest visionaries. In memoriam. Before delving into the next Ekostory, I want to take a brief side trip. I want to share a work is a major touchstone to my childhood. It’s one I regularly revisit over the years, and one that’s celebrating its 20th anniversary. It’s a video game called Earthbound. “What is the video game, Earthbound? Even today, it’s so hard to answer that question. It was like a group of children taking dolls from a toy chest. Old dishes no longer used in the kitchen. Nuts and bolts found inside a toolbox. Little flowers and leaves from the backyard. And they were all laid down on the carpet with everybody singing made-up songs. Ready to talk all day about that world they just …

The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask

Zelda’s Twisted Tale: Majora’s Mask

With the end of 2012 and the Mayan calender on people’s minds, I thought it would be topical to explore one of my favourite stories revolving around the end of the world: The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask. Many consider it to be the most creative entry in the Zelda videogame franchise. Released after The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time, one of the most critically acclaimed game of all time, Majora’s unique narrative and deeply human characters help to convey mature themes of grief, loss, and mortality with a sophistication not normally found within the medium. Drawing upon elements of the fantastic and the grim, the disturbing and the absurd, Majora’s Mask shares many similarities with traditional fairy tales and ancient myths, evoking a rich full range of emotional responses within the player.

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker

Seeds of the Future: Zelda’s The Wind Waker

Having recently celebrated its 25th anniversary, the Legend of Zelda is one of the most iconic and celebrated franchises in videogame history. What I love about the series is that it continually incorporates inspiration from various real-life mythologies into its own world. Each mainline iteration is a self-contained story, but they can all be seen as discrete reinterpretations of one central legend, a core narrative that revolves around the hero of Courage, aided by the heroine of Wisdom, embarking on a quest to prevent the villain of Power from acquiring the Triforce, a sacred artifact that grants its wielder’s desires. Two games in the series struck me as being particularly intriguing in the content and delivery of their monomyths from an Ekostories perspective. The first I’ll touch on is The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, released for the Gamecube in 2003 and re-released as a HD remake for the WiiU in 2013.

Nintendo's Pikmin

An Alien’s Perspective: Pikmin 1 and 2

I came across the first Pikmin in 2001. At the time, it was the newest video game created by celebrated videogame designer Shigeru Miyamoto. Responsible for some of the most successful gaming franchises of all time, Miyamoto is famous for drawing inspiration from his everyday life to create universally accessible gaming experiences. The Legend of Zelda franchise was inspired by his childhood exploration of the natural environments that surrounded his home. Nintendogs was dreamt up during interactions with his Shetland sheepdog. Wii Fit stemmed from his obsession to weigh himself daily. The Pikmin games have their roots in his fondness for gardening. Synopsis The main plot of the first game has Olimar, a tiny alien astronaut, crash-landing on an alien planet  that is very reminiscent of Earth. Being the size of a thimble, Olimar is in desperate need of assistance to recover the scattered engine parts of his damaged spaceship. He finds allies in indigenous creatures called “Pikmin”, cute plant-animal hybrids that behave like swarms of ants and come to regard Olimar as their leader. …

thatgamecompany flower

Interactive Storytelling: Thatgamecompany’s Flower

As a fan of video games ever since I was introduced to Pac-Man and Dig Dug by my uncle at the age of three, it pains me to admit that most gaming stories are in fact quite terrible; many of them are riddled with cringe-worthy clichés and written expressly to stimulate and titillate. It’s understandable and almost forgivable: Crafting good stories takes time and effort. It is not often a high priority for most game developers when they are justifiably concentrating their energies on things that make games playable: interesting level design, enjoyable game mechanics, user-friendly controls. As a result, few games have stories that approach the quality of ones routinely found in more established mediums such as literature and film; fewer still deal with environmental themes, ideas, and connections of any depth. But once in a while, something comes along and fuses interactivity, the unique strength of the medium, with a compelling narrative to create an affective and emotional experience about the relationship of humanity and nature. Flower, released by thatgamecompany, is one of …