The problem, of course, with demarcating game texts as this or that is that that sort of characterization can lead to a fixation on some sort of Platonic ideal of what a pencil and ink game of any genre should look like. It assumes some type of prelapsarian utopia in which games capture the essential form of what they should be.
While I hope for some sort of gestaltian wholeness that can magically transform online experiences, point-and-click games perhaps offer a more realistic microcosm of our actual online experiences – garish colors, bold headlines, shaded scenes that we can effectively ignore. A game like TD might well mimic the reality of online experience more than I would like – snippets of news stories become definitive bits of information, the illusion of solving a crime offset by the actuality of being led by the nose through a series of already-spelled-out clues, other people who we imagine to be a specific way but who in reality are of course completely different, and so on.
In this sense, then, KRZ is a perfect online experience for a very specific set of the digerati – we are encouraged to start exploring the game’s depths immediately, and it turns out that the depths are worth exploring, with interesting people doing fascinating things that are not in and of themselves earth-shattering but are powerful reminders of the types of questions that digital culture asks of us.
The Detail fits a little less perfectly. The promised depths never materialize, perhaps because the game lost its funding, but it doesn’t go much beyond stereotypes – and in the places where it does the story feels forced. I’m wondering if there is a place for traditional hard-bitten story-telling of this type in point-and-click games, and I’m hoping to be proven wrong soon.
More to come on this, of course.