Making the Case for Hardboiled Sleuths in Video Games
Good morning scholars!
This morning I came across a fantastic article in Paste Magazine addressing potential connections between the hardboiled detective genre and video games. Admittedly, I’m not much of a digital gamer (the last thing I tried being Atari in 1984…are they still around?) But from what I do know, long-form narrative games and the detective genre seem like they would be a perfect match and I’m always eager to learn more. As Kenneth Lowe, the author of this piece points out;
“If you look at the detective fiction genre, it almost seems like it could be made into a video game more easily even than shooters or fantasy role-playing, if for no other reason than the terse and clipped dialogue….So what better work to emulate than Raymond Chandler or Dashiell Hammett – guys renowned for cutting language down to its barest elements?”
“If we go deeper than the surface level, we also find a story structure perfect for adaptation to games. Detective stories are largely told from the first-person perspective of our hardened investigator – the better to put the audience in his shoes so that they’re receiving the same information at the same time and from the same bias as he is. They almost invariably begin with a quest-giver beseeching our hero to accomplish something – find a missing person, recover a stolen macguffin, solve a murder most foul. As the detective explores and probes, he opens up new locations, meets new characters and meets with resistance from whatever shady antagonistic force is trying to stop him from solving the case” (n.p.).
Not only does Lowe show us that he knows his stuff when it comes to hardboiled fiction (I love the sideways crack at Blade Runner), but he’s so convincing that I’d be willing to hijack my partner’s XBox One for a few hours a day if I could tip my hat in the virtual world like Sam Spade or even the later, slightly less hardboiled but equally wise-cracking, Torchy Blane (let’s not leave out our gumshoe gals, Lowe, shall we?)
If you love gaming, check out this article….and if you hate gaming, check out this article. Plus, anyone who still uses the phrase “wack-a-doo” is worth a read in my book.
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