Outside the Box

Outside the Box
Story Time with Agent 47

Michael Cook | 20 Jan 2009 11:57
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When Concerned drew to a close, Chris started up his gaming blog 1Fort, and subsequently began a game diary project set in the world of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. "I'd probably played about 300 hours of Oblivion and, while I still very much enjoyed being in the game, I was looking for a new way to play," he says. What better way to do this, then, than to try and play as a non-player character, avoiding all possible avenues of adventure and instead spending time chasing butterflies and mixing potions?

If you're already a part of Chris' now burgeoning readerbase, then you'll agree that there is no better way. Bizarrely, the tales of a man who runs from any source of possible excitement has somehow proved exciting in its own right, and the protagonist Nondrick has entered a month's worth of posts, each detailing a day in his uneventful, life. What's going on?

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"There might be people who just enjoy the stories without ever having played [the games]," Chris suggests. "I was surprised to hear that a lot of people who read my Half-Life 2 comic, Concerned, had never played. I thought for sure it wouldn't make any sense unless people knew the game." But it doesn't seem like this is the case; although a lot of people who read Chris' blog and diaries are gamers, many of them haven't played Oblivion or Half-Life 2. Instead, it's the interplay between the game world and Chris' own imagination that makes the entertainment. After playing the big hero for so long, it's refreshing - and funny - to see someone do the exact opposite. "Every now and then I want to let him off the leash and tear through a couple dungeons, but it's just not his style. So, I make him go pick weeds instead. Poor guy."

So is this a brave new world for writers who game? Or will it remain a geeky subculture for gamers who write? Chris is optimistic that it could yet stake a claim as part of the "new media" approach to games journalism. "In the media, you mostly see reviews, and industry news, and who got fired from which developer, and how a game is selling. You have to watch the blogs and forums to find more personal stuff about gaming." He's right. As Jim, Tom and Chris gear up for a year of new releases and new opportunities for storytelling, it's clear that the only thing the art needs is more readers and, perhaps more importantly, more writers. As communities strengthen and talents emerge, it'll only be a matter of time before you get home, flick on some music and sit back with the latest copy of EVE Online Monthly. The only question is, if everyone has a story in them, what's yours?

Michael Cook lived happily ever after.

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