A libguide, blog post, or other resource that compiled and categorized a list of high quality, free to play games would be an excellent resource for the public and also for other librarians! That sounds like a great project, if you ever find the time for it. I feel like Facebook has been on the front lines of taking legitimate media (news, games) and turning them into illegitimate media (fake news, “free to play” games). This would indicate that there is something about marrying social relationships and technology that produces one dimensional experiences.
Anyhow, to get back to the games, I do agree that ambiguous, less trope-tastic dialog is certainly more realistic. I also often prefer ambiguous spaces to ones where the agenda (moral or otherwise) is obvious. However, I personally don’t use the word “warm” to describe “ambiguity,” (my word) or “comfort in discomfort,” (your words). I notice a contrast in these games, where the graphics and interface tend to be warm, there is a warm aesthetic, and this serves to highlight the dialog’s unusual ambiguity even more. But that’s not a bad thing, it gives the game some character.
I understand and agree completely with your commentary on AAA games. I also think they’re just not even trying to reach the same narrative level that indie games depend on. Their audience doesn’t expect it. Someone recently told me that Lin Manuel-Miranda, the writer and star of the popular Broadway show “Hamilton,” once told a reporter that he found himself in an unsavory neighborhood in Miami, and used knowledge he gained from hours of playing GTA to navigate his way out. Regardless of all the ways in which the whole statement might be a problem, it indicates that someone who is very interested in creating interesting narrative experiences for audiences is also very interested in consuming uninteresting narrative experiences. It may be that the AAA games are actually filling a niche and not only for a specific type of gamer, but for the multifaceted gamer that likes both kinds of games.
Neither of these games (Longest Night or Lost Constellation) were deeply immersive for me personally, so I found myself waiting a lot, but that is not unusual for me with video games. It is the rare game that I play for hours without noticing. As I’ve grown older, I’ve noticed that I am able to accommodate fewer and fewer kinds of clumsiness in media. There are books I read when I was younger that I loved and still love due to who I was at the time that I read them, but that I would not be able to read now. There are books that are coming out now that are like those books and I can read maybe one in ten of them. Games, however, are moving in the opposite direction. As time goes by, there are more and more games that meet the higher standards I have for media consumption.
Re pics – the software which periodically takes screencaps automatically sounds ideal. Definitely let’s figure that out!