Not Going Home: Transgeneric Elements and the Exploratory Branches of Walking Simulators
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The term ‘Walking Simulator’ surfaced after the release of its acclaimed educer Dear Esther (The Chinese Room, 2012). Since then, the term became a genre that raised questions on what constitutes a videogame, the narrative potential of the medium, and its societal possibilities. While responses to these questions have been given by a broad variety of people, when it comes to what constitutes a Walking Simulator, scholars, critics, and gamers hold on to a handful of early, now-canonical titles. Thus, our expectations of the genre stem from the qualities that have been found in and through a small percentage of its earlier examples. Throughout this thesis, I expand our understanding of Walking Simulators by analysing two more recent and divergent titles: Paratopic (Arbitrary Metric, 2018) and Eastshade (Eastshade Studios, 2019). After problematising the concept of ‘genre’, outlining genre as interchanging, and stating generic experiences with canonical titles, I analyse Paratopic’s and Eastshade’s textual and discursive dimensions. This analysis is guided by a theoretical framework that consists of the ‘lyric, dramatic, and epic position’, ‘affordances of aspects of actions’, and ‘patterns of spatial use’, as well a Critical Discourse Analysis that enables engagement with ergodic media. From these findings, I argue that the current conditions of the genre - and by this part of videogames as a medium - to be silently expanding yet vocally restricted to the perceived limits of Walking Simulators’ earlier titles.