Dear Esther: An Interactive Ghost Story Built Using the Source Engine

  • Dan Pinchbeck
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 5334)


This paper reflects on the design and production of an multimodal, environmental storytelling experiment constructed in the first-person game engine Source. Rather than being based around the resolution of conflicts and acheiving goals, Dear Esther presents a sparse environment with no embedded agents, relying purely on the player’s engagement with and interpretation of a narrative delivered through semi-randomised audio fragments. Dear Esther was released for free download via a number of modding sites in June and this paper reflects on the experience of building and the response by gamers.


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    Mateas, M., Stern, A.: Build It to Understand It: Ludology Meets Narratology in Game Design Space. In: Proceedings of DiGRA 2005 Conference: Changing Views, Worlds in Play, July 16-20 (2005)Google Scholar
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    Valve Half Life 2 Valve, PC (2004)Google Scholar
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    thechineseroom Dear Esther, (2008) PC GSC: Game World S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl THQ / GSC (2007) PC

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dan Pinchbeck
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Creative TechnologiesUniversity of PortsmouthUK

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