The discussion on how videogame designers and videogame studies should combine and separate modes of perspective when looking at similar storytelling mediums seems like a very necessary one to be had. I agree with Henry Jenkins–with two viewpoints on the radical ends of the spectrum, the ludologists and narratologists, there needs to be some middle ground to leave possibilities of “what video games can be” open to allow for creativity and experimentation to thrive, since the medium of video games is relatively new compared with other mediums (such as books, movies, music, etc).
I see many of Jenkins’ ideas on spatial stories translating onto Tacoma, which is the game I chose to play a bit of last weekend. The game has a unique approach to what could have been a normal visual-novel-like game, which is allowing the player the explore the various strands of “present” within a single past moment. The affordances that come with this is the ability to choose how deeply you want to know the sub-plots and characters. It isn’t necessary to listen to the entirety of all strands (or to listen to them at all sometimes), but the game helps the players to understand the main narrative through a mechanic of indicating where you need to go at what point in a given scene time to catch key conversations in a strand.
When you go to a different area of the ship, you encounter different recordings of the past, with the order that you encounter them not necessarily matching up with the order that they happened. In this sense, there is some showings of an “episodic” feature, where the order in which you see something doesn’t affect your understanding of the overall plot (pg.7). One example of this is a scene where one of the characters is playing the guitar in their bedrooms; with this room and recording of the past, we are presented with details that allow the player to imagine this fictional world on a deeper narrative level. It wasn’t necessary, however, to see it in the first place, since it didn’t act as a device for furthering the plot. Instead, this scene acts as an encouragement for spatial exploration; the result of playing into this spatial exploration is the reward of a more rich glimpse into the world of Tacoma.