A video-game studio called Telltale Games is developing "an intense following" by focusing on stories, not gameplay, reports Laura Parker in The New York Times (4/28/14). "We’re solving problems on a story level that other game companies don’t even realize are problems," says Telltale founder Dan Connors. "We’re approaching this like it was a film or television series." The idea is to adapt "popular books, movies and television shows" into "short, episodic chapters."
"Human beings enjoy being in the thrall of an ongoing saga," says Katherine Isbister of NYU’s Game Innovation Lab. "It allows us to get to know a world and characters over time and gives us a chance to reflect and discuss." Telltale’s biggest success is an adaptation of AMC’s The Walking Dead, also a comic book series, in 2012. It sold "one million copies in the first 20 days" and 28 million to date. Each episode can be downloaded for just $5, versus the typical $60 video-game.
"It resonated with people," says Dan. "It immersed you in the world and allowed players to create relationships with characters in a way they’d never done before." Indeed, "players have filmed themselves working through the game and uploaded the videos to YouTube; the best ones feature shocked screams and tears." "Everyone is focused on trying to make games look as sophisticated as films, as opposed to trying to make games be as emotionally and narratively resonant as film," says Telltale’s Colum Slevin.