One of the points I made recently in the IGDA writing forum was that unlike every other form of mainstream entertainment, interactive entertainment contains a second-person you that creators must allow for:
Mainstream (meaning commercially successful) books are either first-person (“I went to the store….”) or third-person (“Bob went to the store….”); movies are third-person, present-tense (“Jensen fires twice – BLAM BLAM!!!”); television is the same; witnessing sports, the same. Only in interactive does the almost unheard of second-person POV come into play: “You attempt to open the chest….”
Now, as writers and designers we spend a lot of time talking about first-person or third-person point of view (POV) for the graphical presentations of our games – meaning whether the player-character is on-screen (Mario) or not (Half-life) – but we don’t talk much at all about the hell of trying to deal with this second-person POV. We should, though, because in the example with the chest it doesn’t matter what our camera point of view is: we’re still in second-person relative to the game/sim. (Morrowind is a good example of this: you can toggle between first-person and third-person on the fly, which effectively means it really doesn’t matter what the camera POV is relative to much of what’s happening in the game.)
I’m not sure how far this line of reasoning goes before it becomes academic, but I think it may be fairly consequential. More to come as I get a better handle on this one.
— Mark Barrett