|Session Name||Dear Esther: Making an Indie Success Out of an Experimental Mod|
|Track / Format||Game Design|
Dear Esther has carved out a position as a critically acclaimed, cult hit, despite the complete lack of anything resembling traditional gameplay. In this talk, Pinchbeck will talk about the design of Dear Esther, including the approach to story, environment and audio, and how the game uses traditional game design in a new way to create a unique, story-driven experience. By understanding games as 'orchestrated experiences', Pinchbeck argues that we reconcile traditional antagonism between mechanics and world, and open the way to a new kind of game design. In it's transition from academic research project to breakout, award-winning mod hit, to commercial game backed by Valve and Indie Fund, Dear Esther is the best evidence we currently have that the pure-story game, the orchestrated experience is not just a niche experiment, but a viable approach to game design.