Unreliable Narrator
Edge|September 2021
Exploring stories in games and the art of telling tales
SAM BARLOW

As I write this, I’ve just released a teaser trailer into the maelstrom of hype that is this year’s online E3. It was intense. Partly because I happened to be in LA at the time and could not convince my body that I wasn’t supposed to be on stage somewhere: even as the teaser aired I was expecting a panicked call from an irate show manager. But also because seeing hundreds of trailers and announcements going head-to-head over a handful of days was a reminder of the desperate Darwinian nature of putting a game out right now. I distracted myself by thinking about the usefulness of all this hype.

Hype is part of selling a game, sure. The sales pitch. The marketing that gets built around a game has to get people excited enough to mash the wishlist button – which, by the way, is physically connected to the nucleus accumbens of its developer. And, yes, hype sometimes has to be weighed up against setting correct expectations. It is possible to create too much hype – infamously, No Man’s Sky promised an infinite game and created infinite expectations. BioShock Infinite promised infinite realities, but shipped with only one. Perhaps a rule of thumb is to just not promise infinity?

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