Rarely will you come across a video game that so earnestly portrays mental illness, in this case mainly schizophrenia, and how this condition can shape or reshape a person’s perception of reality. Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice tells the story of Senua and her journey through her own hellish reality. It is a story that in 2017 needed to be told via the video game medium.
Ladykiller in a Bind, created by Christine Love,is what many would probably call an interactive visual novel. However, I argue that it should still be considered a video game, and not considering experiences such as this one video games would be a loss to the game community and the media’s otherwise diverse possibilities of expression.
One might say that “ludo-narrative dissonance” has become somewhat of a buzz-word of mine of late, and one would be very correct in saying so. The issues presented in video games when ludic (game mechanics) and narrative expressions do not compute has become a particular interest of mine. So much so that is has become a central part of my Master’s Thesis: “In order to create a cohesive experience of play and story, ludic and narrative elements must align in meaning and expression”.
One of the great challenges when designing video games is not merely to design a game that is interesting and fun for the first one or two hours of play, since this is helped along massively by the novelty of the game, the world, the story, etc. Novelty drives much of the excitement and curiosity. But what then when this extends into 10+ hours of play? What happens when the novelty wears off? That is where a game must truly prove its mettle.