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The future of game dialogue

Two new pieces of writing this morning have me thinking about the future of game dialogue.

Clint Hocking suggests that our cultural expectations of dialogue need to change — dialogue isn’t bad because it’s written as a way of players coming to understand their impact on the game world. He talks about an “evolution of our cultural sensibilities” that “causes film dialogue to feel strange and old-fashioned” because it isn’t written toward this goal.

That makes sense, but the problem is that canned dialogue, even moreso than canned animation, is going to hit a wall quickly if you actually let players have an impact on the game world.

Which brings me to the other piece of writing. Aaron Reed, as lead writer of Prom Week, describes how he uses the history of player-driven actions in the world to create customized dialogue on the fly for new ludic situations.

That’s the future of game dialogue that I see — where canned barks feel strange and old-fashioned because our cultural sensibilities have grown to expect dialogue that responds deeply to game state and history.


About the author:  Noah Wardrip-Fruin is an Associate Professor at UC Santa Cruz and the author of Expressive Processing: Digital Fictions, Computer Games, and Software Studies.

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