The article below represents months of work and appears in Well Played 2.0, a game studies textbook published by Carnegie-Mellon University under the guidance of Professor (and Celebrity Guest Editor) Drew Davidson.
Each chapter of Well Played discusses a single game or franchise, with both meanings of the well-played phrase in mind: the game must be well played as a book is well-read, and it must provide something to better the medium as a whole. Beyond that, the analytical expectations are dependent on the writer. My chapter was about the STALKER franchise, which I know and love well.
I really wanted to do a “director’s cut” version of the article for Tap, including self-made, narrated gameplay videos and the like, but a recent computer crash has eaten up all my STALKER saves. It’d just take too much time to put a project like that together. Instead please accept the odd embedded YouTube video, plus some additional pix and multimedia that don’t appear in the book.
This is a textbook chapter, not a blog post. As such it’s even longer, boringer, and more pedantic than I usually write. It even has footnotes. Enjoy!