Making the Player the Detective

Bjarke Alexander Larsen, Henrik Schoenau-Fog

Research output: Contribution to book/anthology/report/conference proceedingArticle in proceedingResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Detective stories in games have long been a heavily used inspiration source and setting for games, and it is indeed a fitting genre at first glance with its clearly defined set of expectations, rules, and type of storytelling relying on uncovering the past. It is curious then, that until recently, most detective games have followed a more traditional adventure game structure, with little emphasis on actual investigation in the player’s actions, but where the player more acts as a proxy for the plot to follow its course. However, in recent years, a number of games have shown a tendency to shift this balance, and push the bulk of the detective work onto the players themselves, to leave them with an inscrutable mystery to slowly uncover over the course of the game, to decipher the story of the crime in their mind. This paper will investigate a few of these games as well as compare with literature on traditional detective stories to understand how detective games have typically been a different type of detective story all together, which is crucial to understanding how we can make the player the detective instead of an observer of a detective.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInternational Conference on the Foundations of Digital Games: FDG '20
EditorsGeorgios N. Yannakakis, Antonios Liapis, Kyburz Penny, Vanessa Volz, Foaad Khosmood, Phil Lopes
Number of pages8
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Publication date15 Sept 2020
Article number32
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-4503-8807-8
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sept 2020
EventFDG '20: International Conference on the Foundations of Digital Games - Bugibba, Malta
Duration: 15 Sept 202018 Sept 2020


ConferenceFDG '20: International Conference on the Foundations of Digital Games
Internet address


  • Detective games
  • Mystery
  • Detective Fiction
  • Crime
  • Environmental Storytelling


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