Fortunately for them there is A Website For That. A whole cottage industry, in fact, made up of unscrupulous academics and grad students who are willing to anonymously write papers for anyone willing to pay. These mercenaries will write about anything: maths, science, humanities, and even, as it turns out, video games.
After learning about a particularly brazen “buy your college papers” website called “Unemployed Professors”, the jokers over at the video game site Unwinnable decided it would be fun to see if they could actually hire someone from the site to write then a paper about video games.
They sent in Brian Daly’s comic “A Brief history of Storytelling in Videogames” with the request that someone write a paper about it. Soon enough, they had a bid, from one anonymous “Professor Rogue.”
The paper he came up with is… not terrible, actually! Though it does call Police Quest an “RPG.” You can read the whole thing if you want to; it contains such gem as:
“Subsequent to this chronological tracing of the evolution of narrative in video games, the essay concludes by examining psychological literature demonstrating humanity’s preference to think and act through narratives.”
“In Oblivion, the user controls the narrative, inasmuch as initial choices, made when constructing the player’s character, and then at salient plot points throughout the game, actually change the story line, and thus the narrative itself.”
I dunno, that actually does read like a college term paper to me. Not a particularly interesting one, but hey, it’s a college term-paper! It’s not supposed to be interesting!
Professor Rogue really brings it home in the conclusion:
Moving to clinical psychology, Murray thus proposes that the narrative approach to psychology, at base, flows from the premise that “human beings are natural storytellers and that the exchange of stories permeates our everyday social interaction.”3 On the basis of this then, it is logical to conclude that the increasing sophistication of narratives is likely to increase videogames’ market share, popularity and reach. If human beings are indeed natural storytellers, and if the stories that govern our games continue to evolve, new individuals might be drawn into the realm of gaming, and with this, the industry is likely to expand.
Preach it! Heh.
Just goes to show, you really can hire someone to write about just about anything. Maybe the next time the illustrious Professor Bogost is behind on an essay or book, he can just get in touch with the folks at this website.
An Academic History of Storytelling in Videogames [Unwinnable]