In most video games, dialogue and conversations require little more thought than a single press of a button. Push button, receive information. Rinse and repeat. Although communication is the bedrock of human interaction, it often feels like an afterthought while playing the latest games.
Recent indie titles, however, are aiming to re-imagine how conversations work in games. Signs of the Sojourner, the introspective narrative from Echodog Games about learning the art of human connection through an emotive deck of cards, is one such example; framing dialogue as a gamified conversation where emotion and nonverbal interactions are as important as words spoken aloud. Fanbyte’s Steven Scaife recently reviewed Signs of the Sojourner, exploring how conversations unfold in the game with insight and a critical eye.
The result is almost therapeutic: sometimes social exchanges just aren’t going to work out, no matter what. Matches depend not just on the composition of your deck but what cards you’ve both been lucky enough to draw on a turn. And the ways to mitigate mismatches are limited; your deck only has so much space, and if you spread yourself too thin with too many symbols or specialize with too few, you risk total alienation upon traveling to certain areas. I didn’t manage to have a single productive conversation with one headstrong young punk in the city and that disconnect felt appropriate, particularly once I met his older, easier-to-talk-to brother.