Dear Esther Is Beautifully Ordinary

Dennis Scimeca

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Dear Esther Is Beautifully Ordinary

Dear Esther may play like a game but it can also read like a book.

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krellen

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Jan 23, 2009
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So I'm sure someone will be posting "but it doesn't have goals and I can't win so it's not a game" soon; to those I ask, however, what would you call it? And would someone who didn't identify as a gamer a) agree with you and b) know what the heck you were talking about?
 

Evil Teddie

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The one thing I didn't like about Dear Esther was the fact that there wasn't really any hints at all where to go to advance, hence me becoming stuck and quitting the game.

krellen said:
So I'm sure someone will be posting "but it doesn't have goals and I can't win so it's not a game" soon; to those I ask, however, what would you call it? And would someone who didn't identify as a gamer a) agree with you and b) know what the heck you were talking about?
I'm sure people are smart enough to realise that winning does not matter in a video game nowadays, it's more about the experience than anything else. It's a pity that non-gamers don't realise this...
 

Farther than stars

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Is it just me or was this column written more eloquently than usual? I've said it before and I'll say it again: Dear Esther brings out the poet in people.
 

draythefingerless

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krellen said:
So I'm sure someone will be posting "but it doesn't have goals and I can't win so it's not a game" soon; to those I ask, however, what would you call it? And would someone who didn't identify as a gamer a) agree with you and b) know what the heck you were talking about?
back in the day of Encarta, i had Encarta....
in Encarta, they offered you 3D virtual tours of famous places like the Tomb of Ramses or the Parthenon. as yo moved thru them, clicking on special points so the tour could marvel you with tales of, lets say, Egyptian mythos n culture.

tell me then, why was that not called a game, but this is? because its deep? because its on steam and made on Source? it is a 3D virtual tour. just in this case its not a tour, more of a...experience. Tell me what is the difference between Dear Esther and those cutsie putsie jerkishly romantic powerpoint presentations people send you in emails, where people put poetry, images, a constructed story, or a joke, and you can click away to the next screen to see the wise or lovable wisdom. or the cute nice and deep poem. or maybe it was some funny joke. if you can tell me the difference between dear esther and that, id be glad to hear it.

this need to categorize everything has made people look really stupid. Dear Esther is Dear Esther. its good. whatever it is.
 

Mouse One

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draythefingerless said:
this need to categorize everything has made people look really stupid. Dear Esther is Dear Esther. its good. whatever it is.
True...but. We can complain till the end of the world about catering to marketing, but it's a necessary evil. Bottom line, it's hard to sell something that doesn't fit at least vaguely in a category. Call it the "Where can I find it on Itunes?" problem.

Whatever programs like Dear Esther, The Path and even Amnesia are, they certainly aren't traditional videogames. But they were sold as such because there's no where else to put them. A tour of the Tomb of Ramses can be sold as educational, but what about something that's just entertainment?
 

draythefingerless

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Mouse One said:
draythefingerless said:
this need to categorize everything has made people look really stupid. Dear Esther is Dear Esther. its good. whatever it is.
True...but. We can complain till the end of the world about catering to marketing, but it's a necessary evil. Bottom line, it's hard to sell something that doesn't fit at least vaguely in a category. Call it the "Where can I find it on Itunes?" problem.

Whatever programs like Dear Esther, The Path and even Amnesia are, they certainly aren't traditional videogames. But they were sold as such because there's no where else to put them. A tour of the Tomb of Ramses can be sold as educational, but what about something that's just entertainment?
i thought thats why we invented the "Other" category.
 

Freechoice

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draythefingerless said:
krellen said:
So I'm sure someone will be posting "but it doesn't have goals and I can't win so it's not a game" soon; to those I ask, however, what would you call it? And would someone who didn't identify as a gamer a) agree with you and b) know what the heck you were talking about?
back in the day of Encarta, i had Encarta....
in Encarta, they offered you 3D virtual tours of famous places like the Tomb of Ramses or the Parthenon. as yo moved thru them, clicking on special points so the tour could marvel you with tales of, lets say, Egyptian mythos n culture.

tell me then, why was that not called a game, but this is? because its deep? because its on steam and made on Source? it is a 3D virtual tour. just in this case its not a tour, more of a...experience. Tell me what is the difference between Dear Esther and those cutsie putsie jerkishly romantic powerpoint presentations people send you in emails, where people put poetry, images, a constructed story, or a joke, and you can click away to the next screen to see the wise or lovable wisdom. or the cute nice and deep poem. or maybe it was some funny joke. if you can tell me the difference between dear esther and that, id be glad to hear it.

this need to categorize everything has made people look really stupid. Dear Esther is Dear Esther. its good. whatever it is.
Didn't Encarta also have outright games too?
 

octafish

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This reminds me of a discussion I had about To The Moon, which in many ways more resembles a "game" than Dear Esther. We didn't come to any conclusion other than To The Moon was very good and possibly it wouldn't have as much impact if we had been but callow youths.

I may have to try the retail Dear Esther, as I played the original mod, and the "sequel" Korsakovia. Recently I have experienced To The Moon, The Stanley Parable, One Chance and Every Day the Same Dream, I don't know if they are games, but I know they haunt me, and I want more.
 

theninjagecko

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Between TheChineseRoom and Gregory Wier, I have more than enough satisfaction from games. Don't get me wrong, I *have* played CoD, but not often, and I do like some other games. But it's these that I can play over and over again like a good book.
 

weirdee

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Gonna point out this particular game if you are a fan of things that become overwrought with prose, although it gets quite silly.
 

draythefingerless

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Freechoice said:
draythefingerless said:
krellen said:
So I'm sure someone will be posting "but it doesn't have goals and I can't win so it's not a game" soon; to those I ask, however, what would you call it? And would someone who didn't identify as a gamer a) agree with you and b) know what the heck you were talking about?
back in the day of Encarta, i had Encarta....
in Encarta, they offered you 3D virtual tours of famous places like the Tomb of Ramses or the Parthenon. as yo moved thru them, clicking on special points so the tour could marvel you with tales of, lets say, Egyptian mythos n culture.

tell me then, why was that not called a game, but this is? because its deep? because its on steam and made on Source? it is a 3D virtual tour. just in this case its not a tour, more of a...experience. Tell me what is the difference between Dear Esther and those cutsie putsie jerkishly romantic powerpoint presentations people send you in emails, where people put poetry, images, a constructed story, or a joke, and you can click away to the next screen to see the wise or lovable wisdom. or the cute nice and deep poem. or maybe it was some funny joke. if you can tell me the difference between dear esther and that, id be glad to hear it.

this need to categorize everything has made people look really stupid. Dear Esther is Dear Esther. its good. whatever it is.
Didn't Encarta also have outright games too?
yeah, but they were more quiz like stuff. the virtual tours themselves had no challenge or concrete objective other than it was cool and educational.
 

Mouse One

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draythefingerless said:
Mouse One said:
Whatever programs like Dear Esther, The Path and even Amnesia are, they certainly aren't traditional videogames. But they were sold as such because there's no where else to put them. A tour of the Tomb of Ramses can be sold as educational, but what about something that's just entertainment?
i thought thats why we invented the "Other" category.
"None of the above" works on multiple choice tests, but not so well for moving units. I guess the closest thing to these exploratory narrative-based 3D things is a videogame (after all, DE started as a mod). But to be honest, the videogame audience prefers a more game like product. Certainly, there's an overlap between videogame fans and people who enjoy programs like DE, but it's hardly 100%, judging by some of the complaints on the Steam forum about its lack of interactivity and game play. While that might seem akin to complaining that my dog doesn't say "meow" enough, it is being sold next to traditional games.

I suspect catagorization will come as more products like DE are made, and with it a somewhat different advertising strategy than hitting the usual gamer markets. Hopefully that will open the market up to non-gamers as well, people who might enjoy 3D environments and storylines but don't really care for combat, platforming and/or puzzles.


BTW, thanks Octafish for the list of DE like programs. I'll add to that list The Path (and anything else coming from Tale of Tales) and The Museum of Broken Memories (the later is pretty old and might not run on XP, although there's a Vista patch).
 

draythefingerless

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Mouse One said:
draythefingerless said:
Mouse One said:
Whatever programs like Dear Esther, The Path and even Amnesia are, they certainly aren't traditional videogames. But they were sold as such because there's no where else to put them. A tour of the Tomb of Ramses can be sold as educational, but what about something that's just entertainment?
i thought thats why we invented the "Other" category.
"None of the above" works on multiple choice tests, but not so well for moving units. I guess the closest thing to these exploratory narrative-based 3D things is a videogame (after all, DE started as a mod). But to be honest, the videogame audience prefers a more game like product. Certainly, there's an overlap between videogame fans and people who enjoy programs like DE, but it's hardly 100%, judging by some of the complaints on the Steam forum about its lack of interactivity and game play. While that might seem akin to complaining that my dog doesn't say "meow" enough, it is being sold next to traditional games.

I suspect catagorization will come as more products like DE are made, and with it a somewhat different advertising strategy than hitting the usual gamer markets. Hopefully that will open the market up to non-gamers as well, people who might enjoy 3D environments and storylines but don't really care for combat, platforming and/or puzzles.


BTW, thanks Octafish for the list of DE like programs. I'll add to that list The Path (and anything else coming from Tale of Tales) and The Museum of Broken Memories (the later is pretty old and might not run on XP, although there's a Vista patch).
i just think theyll start calling them DE programs( a la DOTA games, even thou its technically MoBA, but no one calls them Moba, its always DOTA)
 

Mouse One

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draythefingerless said:
i just think theyll start calling them DE programs( a la DOTA games, even thou its technically MoBA, but no one calls them Moba, its always DOTA)
Certainly a better option than "Story thing that uses a game engine" :)
 

ewhac

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I'd never heard of this before. It looks like it's absolutely beautiful, and I would probably very much enjoy playing it.

...But I'm still not going to infect my machines with Steam.
 

Mory Buckman

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Why don't we call it an "exploration game"? It clearly describes the experience. And it already is an established kind of game, with new entries every year - we just don't have a name for it yet. So why not "exploration game"?