Dear Esther: a narrative about gamers

I’ve always had a soft spot for Dear Esther, the landmark “walking simulator” that had humble beginnings as a free-to-download Half Life mod and eventually saw a full release. In fact it even warranted itself a “Landmark Edition” some years after that release, featuring small but pleasantly updated graphics, director commentary and some additional audio.

While many did – and continue to – question the game’s validity as a video game at all, due to the lack of interacting with pretty much anything in the game, I’ve always felt that Dear Esther did two things incredibly well. The first: it stood to prove that a “walking simulator” is still just as valid a piece of media as any other average game, and can still offer an experience to the people playing it without needing to rely on the usual trappings of most games. The second, and more important: it was a fantastic narrative on video gamers, the very people playing all of these many thousands of games.

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