Wednesday, February 4, 2015

EXP Podcast #314: Fording the River of Tragedy

Getting raided in This War of Mine
From overturned wagons to the earthquakes, games have long been rife with disaster, but how well have they depicted tragedy? And what risks do we take when designing for tragedy in games? This week on the EXP Podcast, we are inspired by Paste's Maddy Myers when she asks "should disaster games be fun?" The answer, of course, is complicated.

As always, we encourage you to share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

- Here's the show's stand-alone feed
- Listen to the podcast in your browser by left-clicking here, right-click and select "save as link" to download the show in MP3 format, or click play below.

Show Notes:

- Runtime: 32 mins 22 secs


  1. One thing that came to my mind while listening is that death and other bad things feel more impactful and "tragic" when the game and its world don't care about you. When Batman dies in Arkham Asylum, the Joker comes on screen and taunts you; you were the only thing standing in his way, and your death effectively ends the game and the narrative, so it doesn't feel tragic. Same goes for other games where you play as the hero.

    In something like Oregon Trail (sorry, I haven't played; Cross Country Canada was the edutainment in my time and place) or the Fire Emblem series, a character's death doesn't impact the larger narrative or the world, so the fact that it doesn't seem to mean anything makes it seem more tragic.

    After being briefly mentioned on last week's episode, I thought that Scott had started playing The Banner Saga this week. It definitely falls in the camp of feeling like you are a victim of its world rather than its savior. I wrote a bit about it earlier this week that brushes on this topic that I'd love for you to read!

  2. Excellent points, Kevin! However I got sidetracked by the fact that Cross Country Canada exists! A little googling and I found that the great folks at have emulated it:

    I instantly got in an accident and became weak from hunger. Clearly I was not cut out for Canadian trucker life.