zondag 23 februari 2014

The walking dead: an interesting piece of convergence culture

According to Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Walking_Dead_%28video_game%29), the game "The Walking Dead" has received over eighty "game of the year" awards. These positive reviews drew my attention. Before I knew it, the game was slipping into my xBox360. Expectations ran high. However, nothing could have prepared me for the journey on which I unsuspectingly embarked. For hours I enjoyed the pleasures of playing this brilliant product of convergence culture (Cf. Henry Jenkins).

The Walking Dead: The Game
And then, all of a sudden, this game struck me at a deeper cognitive level. I started to understand that media are all interwoven in our day-to-day social fabric. The storyline of the game transgresses different media boundaries and creates a life of its own. Repeatedly I said to myself that this game shares several characteristics with traditional broadcast media like film and books. For example: each "chapter" in the game (= book element) consists of multiple scenes (= film element) where the gamer must make choices that affect how the story unfolds.

The Walking Dead: Comic Books
The game, inspired by an existing comic book series (written by Robert Kirkman), puts the player in
charge of the storyline. What makes this game so unique and fun to play is its capacity to combine traditional gaming elements (solving riddles) with moral choices that connect to our emotional side. The game challenges you both intellectually and morally. The player can choose to experiment with good and evil in a world where all rules have been thrown overboard.

Even after finishing the game, and let me tell you that I am not a typical fan of zombie stories, I am left hungry for more. We are February 2014 now and rumors have it that a sequel will be revealed early march 2014 (that is only one week from now!). The media universe surrounding the game grows every day. Fan communities of the game are merging with fan communities of the TV series. The series, the comic books, the game: all have a mutually reinforcing effect.

The Walking Dead: TV Series
In this world where we are used to living in media instead of with media (Cf. Mark Deuze) this game succeeds to stand out and grab our attention. For sure, all praise is due to the developers behind the game. Telltale games has succeeded in winning thousands (if not millions) of people in the ongoing battle for eyeballs. Thank you for challenging me as both a gamer and a communication scholar. 

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