One snag with videogaming is that regardless of the topic, the word ‘game’ itself often conjures up ideas of playful excitement and enjoyment – like the happy, smiling funsters you get on boardgame boxes, all sat around having a jolly time poking each other with Ker-Plunk sticks or trying to work out why so many faces in Guess Who? look like a poorly disguised Julian Assange.
Films and books don’t have this problem, of course, as both are just the name of the delivery device, not a description of what you’re getting in itself. If you say “I’m going to the cinema to watch a film”, no one is any the wiser as to whether it’ll be a happy film, sad film, thrilling film, or complete waste of £10 and 2 hours you’ll never get back – you know, like the dreary-arsed DC comic book movies (and THAT WAS A JOKE before anyone writes in).
Games, though, come saddled with some expectation of what you’re going to get and how they’re going to make you feel built in because they’re ‘games’. Which might be why some people still dismiss storytelling in gaming as immature by default – they inherently think they’ll only ever get something light, shallow and frothy.
But this isn’t 1982 anymore, and the narratives possible in gaming have moved on a bit from ‘help Bumbo collect dragon eggs from the haunted cave for his monster custard factory’.
Stories in games aren’t always happy ones. Or easy ones. And as a consequence, sometimes calling a game a ‘game’ is almost unfairly trivialising it. Because of course you can still appreciate something and very much enjoy the experience of it, and feel better for having had that experience, without it being a laugh a minute or an action-packed thrillfest.
Which brings us to Gris.