Games are rooted in the escapist storytelling traditions of sci-fi and fantasy, but Tolkein, Salvatore, Asimov, and Brin aren’t the only kind of authors games can draw from. Firewatch, a limited open-world adventure title set in Wyoming, is rooted in a long history of Wilderness literature. Firewatch has been a focus of controversy on account of its ending, which doesn’t line up with the escapist expectations of most game plots. But it does fit perfectly into the environmental literature and nonfiction of the American west, and this video goes into detail looking at how Firewatch might defy the expectations of a game but meet the expectations of a short story or stage play. It also looks to The Long Dark, for contrast— The Long Dark is a Canadian wilderness game which is also rooted in Wilderness literature, but is an early-access title with no plot. It relies completely on mechanics to do what Firewatch relies on narrative for.

This video has COMPLETE AND TOTAL spoilers for Firewatch! But it’s meant to put the specific storytelling decisions in perspective.