Device6 and The Stanley Parable Analysis

Device6 is an interactive novel on iOS devices. It won Excellence in Audio, and was a finalist for Excellence in Narrative, Excellence in Visual Arts, and Seumas McNally Grand Prize. It was also an honourable mention for the Excellence in Design and Nuovo Award. The player plays as Anne who is suffering from amnesia. Anne wakes up on an island brimming with 60s aesthetics accompanied by an atmospheric jazz score. The player has to find out the truth behind Anne’s amnesia, the island and the reason for everything through and thrilling and interesting narrative.

The Stanley Parable is a first person exploration, PC game. It was originally a Half-Life 2 Mod, that became widely successful which allowed the developers to release a paid remake of it. The Stanley Parable won the Audience Award in the Independent Games Festival. It was a finalist in Excellence in Audio, Excellence in Narrative and Seumas McNally Grand Prize. The game has a limited amount of interaction where the player can perform actions in certain parts of the environment such as pressing buttons or opening doors. The narrative of the game is presented to the player via the voice of the Narrator. He explains that the protagonist Stanley who the player is controlling, works in an office building whose job is push buttons when prompted on a screen without question. One day no prompts come and Stanley not sure what’s going on or what to do starts to explore the building and finds that everybody is missing. It is then that the player is presented with the first choice which spirals rapidly into an exploration of the illusion of choice and unquestioning nature of players in video games.

The layout of the text in Device6 gives a sense of the player’s movement through the scene, and become a map. The character’s thoughts are laid out outside of the narrative like afterthoughts that allow the player to understand the character that they’re playing. The game encourages the use of outside objects to have the player progress through puzzles, an example of which requires the use of a mirror to allow the player to read a part of the text. The technique is similar to that of Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves. In which the typography is used to make the the reader uneasy and create pace and movement.

Device6’s prose seamlessly hops between horror/ suspense and humor while still remaining mysterious. The images and audio with the text add to the narrative while having clues in amongst them that are needed to solve puzzles. At the end of each chapter, the player reaches the puzzle that they must solve in order to continue to the next. The player must then backtrack and take note of everything that’s provided for them to figure the problem out.

The Stanley Parable is more about the Narrator than anything else. The quirky dark humor that the smooth voice employs makes the game enjoyable. The Narrator comments on everything that the player does, including when the player chooses to disobey whatever they’re supposed to be doing. The environments are bright and cheery, yet unremarkable. The limited interaction to the environment is only there to really serve as more interaction between the player and the Narrator. The game has multiple paths that the player can follow, each exploring the main concept of the game. The endings may have some relation to each other but at other times, not. But more often than not, will reveal more and more of what the designers are trying to get across to the player. It is made known that the game is constructed by developers and that every single thing the player attempts, it’s all been accounted for.

Both games are heavily story-based, the narration is what makes them enjoyable experiences even though they have very little interaction. They push the boundaries of already established narrative norms in video games, where story is pushed to the background to make way for the gameplay. There have been some exceptions to the norm but even then the stories are confined to the mechanics. The Stanley Parable is a direct dialogue on this, it talks about this free-will and how it doesn’t exist in video games. That it isn’t possible. Device6 on the other hand, is less about this concept and more on the combination of storytelling with gameplay interaction in a way that isn’t contrived and makes sense.

These games are important to the change in narrative to video games. They offer an alternative to the mass of samey-same games that care very little about the role of the story and show how it can be done in an interesting and engaging manner.


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