There has been an increasing effort by some game-makers to address more substantial topics and themes. Last year's Papers, Please is a bleak yet affecting study of the lives of a series of would-be immigrants who must convince the player, a border control agent for a fictional 1980s eastern block nation, to grant them passage. At one point in the game, an elderly man approaches your booth. His papers are in order but, before he passes through, he pleads that you also let his wife into the country, even though she doesn't have the correct documentation. She is next in line. You are free to choose: uphold bureaucracy or keep the family together?
Cart Life is an equally effective study of contemporary life in America on the poverty line. As you scrape a living, selling coffee or newspapers, you begin to feel the grim pain of systemic unfairness and economic failure. The sense of injustice when one character is evicted from his motel room for keeping a cat is devastating. These examples are potent, but it remains rare that a video game's story is discussed seriously in artistic terms.Games are meant to be fun. Do these sound like fun? Except, of course, to a 'Guardian' writer?