Allright guys [and gals], sorry I've been silent for a day or two. I've been thinking on this.
I actually would like to know which Stories you think have a positive theme - that are still very serious ?
To start with, I looked over my collection of books and movies etc. I am not very good at this sort of analytical rebuttal/ persuasive argument but I say one title that stood out to me as an easy mention. The new Star Trek movie, I think it has an overall positive trend despite lots of negative elements and It is definitely a serious film.
Yeah I'm not sure that I completely get your point since - I don't know - many shows are like that.
Conflict is inherently not ideal/positive, but it is what makes a story interesting, so...
I agree that conflict is not inherently ideal but I don't think that its necessarily negative. Conflict is, imho, neutral, non-boolean. Just because it is not ideal does not mean that it is a negative occurrence. Taking that as true would mean that just because lots of shows have conflict (like all of 'em) doesn't mean that they are negative.
On other topics:
you probably know Amnesia. You should definitely check out Eternal Darkness if you dont know it, since its the best lovecraft and madness themed game I have ever seen; Even driving the player into slight madness with breaking the 4th wall.
I freaking love amnesia and I'll check out ED when I can but honestly I haven't seriously played a game in forever what with work/keeping the lady happy/programming all night.
I think Flotilla by Blendo Games comes close to this. There is no win condition, you play until you reach a set number of turns or until you die. You never really get a chance to build a massive or overly powerful fleet. One reason it works pretty well is that each game is so short. I don't think the game necessarily generates empathy, or sympathy, but it is a place to start.
I looked it up, it looks fascinating, I love this sort of thing and like I said above, I wish I could devote the time it deserves right now.
I've been thinking about this some more and the only way I could imagine a game implementing this sort of feel would be (like actual
said) do away with power increases entirely; or to make power increases so minor as to feel insubstantial, novel. You could even use the futility of power increases to drive home the point that the environment (i.e. man v environment/god) has you completely beaten. The problem is, what would be the hook that kept your players enamored with the experience? It would have to be something extrinsic with regards to combat. Would such a game be non-combative? ...
The other line I am on is that of play style. Would this sort of experience lend itself to a guided or unguided(sandbox) style of play? ... more thoughts to come...