The Walking Dead: A Gateway Drug
My girlfriend doesn’t mind the fact that I have a mistress, because she knows my concubine can’t touch me; well, apart from a soothing judder through my Dualshock. I’ve spent an eternity trying to convince her to take a more active role in our incestual love triangle, yet she just doesn’t find the shiny-black of my PlayStation as alluring as I do.
So, I embarked upon a long and arduous journey; one that aimed to take her to distant, exotic lands. The objective was to buy a PS Vita for ‘her’ birthday. That way, I will never be without soft, black plastic. Mmm shiny.
It started with a bra. It was ill-fitting, and the white lace carved lines into her flesh – causing her to constantly update me on her ever-decreasing comfort levels. I tried my best to point at the screen animatedly, nodding my head in agreement , but also nodding my head towards the TV in an attempt at embodying Derren Brown. I endeavoured to get her to focus – it was fruitless, and I could tell that her interest was waning, verging on non-existent.
It wasn’t my first attempt to addict her to my vice.
One year, I purchased a Nintendo DS for her birthday and she happily rampaged through the world of GTA: Chinatown Wars, for a time. That is until she reached a section where she was on a strict time-limit, and with a whimper, she yielded. So, I diagnosed the affliction as ‘difficulty’ and at the time, the counteragent was simple.
I loaded up Journey, promising her a unique experience, both tranquil and scenic. “So, what am I supposed to be doing?” she said after a few minutes, “I don’t get it”. I explained that the sole objective was to head towards the mountain looming on the horizon, and that the game was about the journey, not the destination.
Even with the pervasive landmark, the illusion of openness distorted her sense of direction and I was constantly required for input. Experienced players can pick up on the little signposts, tugging you towards the intended location; to the uninitiated though, these are just incidental details, meaningless debris.
“This game is pointless!” she said, “reach a mountain? What’s the point in that?”
I tried to explain the emotions she would feel along the way, and the joy of interacting with a nameless, mute human. Alas, she thought it was stupid. And that, was the end of her journey.
It seemed that beauty, accessibility and simplicity wasn’t enough; she needed a more restrictive game with a more linear template, and a strong narrative binding it all. The Walking Dead was a perfect fit: we had already watched the television show, and I was sure that she would enjoy the episodic structure of the game.
I hoped that with her occupation as a full-time mother, she would grow attached to Clementine and form a virtual bond through the controller; baptising her to my chosen religion. I also hoped that the forgiving nature of the checkpoint system would ease her into the action sequences. I believed that the narrative would draw her into the fantasy, loosening the straps that bound her.
Yes, The Walking Dead is a perfect starting point for any gamer…isn’t it?
Please read on at: http://www.gamegrin.com/game/article/the-walking-dead-a-gateway-drug