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Video: Spec Ops: The Line contextualizes violence through story

April 1, 2013 | By GDC Vault Staff

April 1, 2013 | By GDC Vault Staff
More: Console/PC, Design, Production, Video, GDC

Courtesy of the GDC Vault, this free GDC 2013 video sees Spec Ops: The Line lead writer and narrative designer Walt Williams discussing a four-step process, dubbed "the illusion of casuality," used to make the moment-to-moment violence of 2K Games' first-person shooter meaningful.

As part of this process, Williams suggests taking the player out of the equation when embracing ludonarrative dissonance (conflicts between what players can and can't control). He also encourages evolving characters through different narrative traits, in this case by having the character go from being professional to unhinged, as tied to the main combat.

To hear about all of the steps which led to a more immersive and emotionally impactful first-person shooter game, check out the GDC 2013 lecture above.

Session Name: We Are Not Heroes: Contextualizing Violence Through Narrative

Speaker(s): Walt Williams

Company Name(s): 2K Games

Track / Format: Game Narrative Summit

Overview: In 2012, 2K Games released the genre-bending, military shooter Spec Ops: The Line, and received critical acclaim for a provocative and mature narrative that spoke directly to the act of playing it. Join lead writer and narrative designer Walt Williams, as he discusses how crafting the game's story, themes, and choices around its most basic mechanic (shooting), led to a more immersive and emotionally impactful experience.

About the GDC Vault

In addition to this presentation, the GDC Vault offers numerous other free videos, audio recordings, and slides from many of the recent GDC events, and the service offers even more members-only content for GDC Vault subscribers. Those who purchased All Access passes to events like GDC, GDC Europe, and GDC China already have full access to GDC Vault, and interested parties can apply for the individual subscriptions via a GDC Vault inquiry form.

Group subscriptions are also available: game-related schools and development studios who sign up for GDC Vault Studio Subscriptions can receive access for their entire office or company. More information on this option is available via an online demonstration, and interested parties can find out more here. In addition, current subscribers with access issues can contact GDC Vault admins.

Be sure to keep an eye on GDC Vault for even more new content, as GDC organizers will also archive videos, audio, and slides from other events like GDC China and GDC 2013. To stay abreast of all the latest updates to GDC Vault, be sure to check out the news feed on the official GDC website, or subscribe to updates via Twitter, Facebook, or RSS.

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