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Performing walking sims: From Dear Esther to Inchcolm Project

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In 2012 The Chinese Room launched Dear Esther, a video game that would go on to shape video game history and define a new genre: the walking simulator. Walking simulators renounce traditional game tropes and foreground walking as an aesthetic and as a dramaturgical practice, which engages the walker/player in critical acts of reading, challenging and/or performing a landscape. In October 2016, Dear Esther was adapted as a site-responsive, promenade performance set on the Scottish island of Inchcolm in the Firth of Forth. The resulting performance, Dear Rachel, was then experienced alongside the game under the umbrella name Inchcolm Project. This hybrid event ‐ multimedia (promenade performance, gameplay and musical performance) and mixed-reality (with physical, augmented and virtual components) ‐ required the development and implementation of complex processes of remediation and adaptation. Drawing from a range of theories and practitioner reflection, this article puts forward a design framework ‐ storywalking ‐ which reconciled the two adaptation challenges: responding to the site and to the game.
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Keywords: adaptation; game design; hybrid storytelling; mixed-reality; performance; site-specific; walking; walking simulators

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 0000000103398665Abertay University

Publication date: March 1, 2020

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