The Haunting of ‘Dear Esther’

I finally get around to writing about Dear Esther, one game in a long list of my to write about backlog. It is a little difficult talking about a game so late that so many others have already discussed. But few seem to have written about the content of the game rather than if it is a video game or not.

I figured I would write about it for October, because it is a ghost story. However, in trying to parse through the game’s meaning I felt stuck on what to say about it. So I went and played it again. I remembered it being beautiful and the landscape that special type of British drab, but I had forgotten how creepy some of the locations are and how unsettling the entire island is. And since you get random audio clips for every playthrough I heard new ones this time around. A few of the new ones were so out there when it comes to comprehensibility that I couldn’t help, but come to the realization that the textual analysis was beyond understanding.

One point that I came up with, but didn’t explore too deeply was the idea of Dear Esther as a post-modernism work of self-reflection. It’s why the people who dismissed it as just about being about a car crash missed the whole point. An exploration for meaning doesn’t end when the puzzle of the plot is figured out, that’s where it begins. Yes the character’s wife died in a car crash, but what does that mean? How does it affect him? That is what the game is about. Not the mystery of what happened to his wife.

The postmodernism thing though is a concept that boggles my mind. It’s also something that if I could focus my mind more on later I would love to dig into the concept more. I don’t really like postmodernism that much because it’s more used as a veil by the lazy and unimaginative and a crutch by the talented. But that’s for another time. As is I think it’s better to name the idea and move on to the real point.

And that’s my PopMatters column for the week.

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