The Silver Lining

All of the media we encounter affects us in some way, but for me, one game in particular drastically influenced the direction of my life – King’s Quest VI.

I was 10 years old at the time, and this game shipped with the desktop my parents had just purchased. I was quite computer illiterate at the time, so first thought that the 5 1/4″ disk drive (yes, it had one of those) was the CD drive.

If you’ve never played the series, you missed out. It’s a delightful adventure series that uses myth and fantasy  to propel one through a world of drama and excitement. The 6th installment was particularly amazing because it features the Charon and the Underworld, the Golden Fleece, the Minotaur, Druids, Beauty and the Beast, Alice in Wonderland, etc. – all of my favorite things. Or perhaps they are all my favorite things because I encountered them there.

Regardless, this game is the first that got me thinking, before I even realized it, about how stories are told in games. Sure, the Classics are there, and maybe it did spark my interest in such things, but more than that, it made me love stories and myth and the magic of the past. Stories, characters, and settings from different cultures and times in the past were combined in this title to create a new world – the Land of the Green Isles. It was somewhat episodic in that each island had a different theme and story associated with it, though I did not realize this at the time. You, the player, were sent on a quest for the Golden Fleece, had to fight the Minotaur, went on a katabasis, solved riddles, deciphered codes, and more, all, of course, to save the princess. I’m not sure a more perfect union of the past and present, at least in their mythical capacities, could be found.

The reason I’m speaking of King’s Quest today is because after its sad end many a moon ago, it is returning to players everywhere this month. Fans have remained devoted to the series and have been pushing to release a (fan-made) sequel ever since the series was discontinued. Finally, The Silver Lining is launching on July 10th. If you haven’t played through the original series, be prepared for horrendous graphics, but do check it out. It is a remnant of a style of game we rarely see anymore and a very interesting take on what it means to tell a story. I’m looking forward to the sequel! See its trailer below.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. G.D. Hamell
    Jul 06, 2010 @ 15:08:02

    Yeah, I am pretty excited for The Silver Lining. I have been a fan of the series since VI, and I am glad Phoenix Online Studios got permission from Vivendi. Even if they hadn’t gotten permission, I hoped they would have released it anyways.

    By the way, I just want to say great blog. Although I don’t have a Ph.D., I have a Bachelors in English Literature and Creative Writing. My primary interest when it comes to games is the story. If it isn’t dynamic and interesting, then I am not interested (even if it has amazing graphics). I added a link to your blog on mine. Hope that’s cool. Keep up the great writing.

    Reply

  2. digital flaneur
    Aug 26, 2010 @ 19:07:34

    King’s Quest was also quite formative for me– though I played V at the tender age of about eight or so, and was promptly quite traumatized by it. I took (and take) the death of assembled pixels quite seriously. I was more than a little alarmed and terrified at the fact that when you did something as benign as click on a river, you could end up drowning.

    Those games were really intriguing: they had such a powerful blend of humor and lightheartedness and real, serious darkness. What always stood out to me was KQ’s faithfulness to the concept of magic; rather than a convenient new physics, it was a dangerous and beautiful and amusing thing, always unpredictable.

    I think it’s a testament to the games that, years later, we not only speak of them fondly, but play (and even make) sequels for them. That’s certainly not unique to King’s Quest, either. Games are powerful, and those of us who grew up with them know that.

    Reply

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