Narrative and Games

Each spring break, for my Story class, I assign a project of playing a game with a strong narrative elements OR entirely narratively driven in preparation for the next project, Interactive Fiction. I thought I’d share the list, and perhaps you folks will share your favorites as well!
(I use movie ratings because many of the kids aren’t familiar with game ratings, and most IOS games aren’t rated anyway.)
If you want to know more about Interactive Fiction, read The joy of text – the fall and rise of interactive fiction

Suggested games:


Gorgeous art, puzzles in context. Iris is missing, but her living paintings hold the clue to her disappearance.

The Room
Puzzle game, gorgeous graphics, Wikipedia “Through the game, a story involving the research of an unnamed person into the fifth Classical Element, “Null,” which is described in notes found through the various box puzzles.”

Botanicula insects go on an adventure to find a safe home from a blight. insanely cute, great music.

Broken Age
Broken Age describes the story of two teenagers with no immediate apparent connection between the two, each “seeking to break the tradition with their lives”

Lego Harry Potter It’s Harry Potter, people. If you haven’t seen the films, you might want to do both.


Bastion (Steam, IOS, long, play on ipad,not phone)
A third-person shooter… maybe, with a story of a post-apocalyptic words. truly beautiful (and much copied) great music, and choices that matter.

Device 6 (Short, IOS, brilliant, puzzles)
“The game begins with Anna, the protagonist, waking up in an unknown castle, only with an unpleasant doll in her memory. Throughout her journey, she meets strange people and creatures appearing to be unresponsive or electronically controlled, raising her suspicion.” wikipedia

80 Days (Medium, IOS)
try to traverse the world in 80 days as the jules verne character. You can shape passpartout’s character via your choices. Steampunk!

Creatures such as We (Short, free online, also on IOS)
A philosophical romance with game designers on the moon. In this game within a game, there has to be a better ending!


The Walking Dead Zombie apocalypse. Also, your choices will shape your character. (See other Telltale games for stories around Fables, Game of Thrones, Batman, Minecraft and more)

A Dark Room (also IOS) Read the new yorker article

Blood and Laurels
Rome with an empire change, and you know what that means. Blood, intrigue, sacrifices… Of note: you can choose to be gay, or bi.

Yearwalk (warning, a bit dark) Mysteries and murders as a young man does a “walkabout” – be sure to get the companion app as well.

Gone Home
“On June 7, 1995, 21-year-old Kaitlin Greenbriar returns home from overseas to her family in Oregon: her father, Terry, is a failed writer who makes a living reviewing home electronics; her mother, Janice, is a wildlife conservationist who recently got promoted to director; and her 18-year-old sister Samantha. Upon arriving, she finds the house deserted, with a note on the door from Sam pleading Kaitlin not to investigate what happened.”

More here and here!

As well, strongly recommend playing with the platforms for making interactive stories. Listed from easy to hard


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    You can’t necessarily change the outcome, but nevertheless I find the story of Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath to be highly engaging. It’s a proper long game with excellent controls even on iOS, and the story adds a fantastic element of mystery and ultimate satisfaction.

    I loved Botanicula as well (and listen to the soundtrack often).

    Little Inferno also has an interesting story. It isn’t much of a game, and kinda makes you feel stupid for having played it at all once the story is revealed at the end. But it’s an interesting experiment and engaging as such, even while you have no idea why you’re continuing to play.

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