What Remains of Edith Finch is precisely about the desire to tell stories in any way possible. Family histories are recorded and preserved via diverse mediums including diary entries, photography, letters, poetry, and even comic books. By structuring the game as an exploration of objects that trigger micro-narratives embedded within the household environment, its central gameplay rewards player curiosity and thirst for narrative context. When Bogost raises the question, “Are they really stories, when they are really environments?” he underestimates spatial design as yet another effective storytelling device. Although environmental storytelling is correctly identified in his article, critical skepticism towards this technique is odd. Narrative can be embedded in the mise-en-scène of the game, the very spatial design of a scene. As the player unfolds Edith Finch’s story, the space literally opens up as secret passageways, crawlspaces, and hidden doors make themselves known. Narrative cues embedded in spatial design have been used across mediums as diverse as film, theater, and now games, and Bogost’s apprehension insinuates a kind of gatekeeping that devalues the strong interconnectedness games have with other cultural forms.
Read the full column at Haywire Magazine.