While the mainstream media still somewhat resists the idea, video games have entered popular culture as a valid form of artistic expression and entertainment, capable of immersing us in ways previously unknown, due in part to their participatory nature. However, even as they've emerged as one of the most immersive forms of art, they're also uniquely one of the easiest to disrupt, each carefully crafted scene easily destroyed by the mechanics and conventions of gameplay. In the case of a horror game, this often means losing the edge of a terrifying fictional experience, undoubtedly the entire point of the genre. In a recent interview with Joystiq, Thomas Grip of Amnesia fame expands on the idea, saying horror games can be dulled by these conventions, suggesting that games should be allowed a creative freedom to craft the necessary horror elements, especially when it comes to length:
Having played Dear Esther, the mod turned retail release made by thechineseroom (their partners on Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs) as well as a number of other shorter titles, I have to agree that a perfectly good game can be ruined by the driving need for a set playing time. It's like demanding a cartoon short become a full length feature film to be considered a valid piece of art. It's not necessary, and it stifles the industry's creativity. This problem often plagues television, in that some series have gone on much further than they should, stretching out the material and ruining the impact in the process (*coughLOSTcough*).
While I think that traditional pricing models need to be adjusted for games that have less content, I'm comfortable with the idea of shorter games with a heavier emphasis on impact to become a norm. It's nice to see a quality game maker get behind the idea.