Dear Esther Soundtrack, Jessica Curry, 2012
It seems fair to say that it’s usually indie video games that push the boundaries of the medium and have gamers and audiences asking “But is it a game?” (“Is it art?” being a close second). One of these games, Dear Esther, was initially a research project at the University of Plymouth. Players find themselves on a barren island in the Hebrides and are left to explore the surroundings. Meanwhile, a male voice-over reads out random letter fragments to a woman named Esther. With no threat of death and no tasks to be fulfilled, Dear Esther instead aims to capture gamers’ intrigue simply by letting them figure out – or just interpret – the fragmented narrative, hinting at a tragedy that precedes the events in the game. Encouragingly, this experiment in digital storytelling received significant critical acclaim and was a commercial success as well.