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“Case 88: Once Upon a Crime” Defining Hidden Object Games as Literary Narratives.

WEARN, Nia and MACCALLUM-STEWART, Esther (2018) “Case 88: Once Upon a Crime” Defining Hidden Object Games as Literary Narratives. In: Literature and Video Games: Beyond Stereotypes, 20-21st June 2018, University of St Andrews.

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Abstract or description

Hidden Object games are an element of casual gaming that has been consistently overlooked. A core reason for this appears to be their placement outside of gaming cultures, with narratives and ludic structures that identify more closely with key trash fiction genres, most notably crime, mystery and romance fiction.

This paper unpacks this idea by examining the literary construction of Hidden Object games (HOGs). The term has previously been used as a catch-all phrase for a number of different casual game genres. A key element in defining these games comes from their emulation of narrative and literary aspects in trash fiction, an aspect which differs across platforms, game types and formats. Whilst players are traditionally seen as cis-male, heterosexual and white, persistent research via bodies like the ESA demonstrates that not only is this inaccurate, but that female, older gamers have comprised a significant, stable percentage of gamers for over a decade. Hidden Object games are specifically aimed at this group, providing a multi-billion revenue stream within the games industry, yet they are rarely analysed or afforded critical attention. This player rarely self-identifies as a gamer, and has a cultural frame of reference originating from beyond gaming, including instead media such as long haul TV series and trash fiction. Trash fiction is consistently seen as lacking creativity despite the vast amount of the publishing market it dominates. Yet critics have also consistently discussed how romance, crime and mystery media are able to provide subversive readings of contemporary culture, or reflect some of its strongest anxieties. We turn this lens to HOGs, using the game Criminal Case (Pretty Simple, 2012 - present) as a specific case study, with an eye to seeing how they use tropes and motifs from these genres in order to develop their own cultural readings.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Narrative, Hidden Object Games
Faculty: School of Computing and Digital Technologies > Games and Visual Effects
Event Title: Literature and Video Games: Beyond Stereotypes
Event Location: University of St Andrews
Event Dates: 20-21st June 2018
Depositing User: Nia WEARN
Date Deposited: 02 Dec 2020 16:01
Last Modified: 24 Feb 2023 14:00
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