Happy Birthday, CSU!

Cutscene University's 1st Anniversary

A Letter from the Editor

Time flies when you’re having fun, doesn’t it? It’s already been one year since Cutscene University opened its virtual doors to the world, and I couldn’t be prouder everything we’ve accomplished so far. In the past year, we’ve put up over fifty articles across a hundred pages, totaling a whopping 175,000 words (that’s roughly two novels, for those of you who don’t think in word count.) We’ve touched on forty full years of video games, ranging from 1981’s Donkey Kong (Nintendo) to 2021’s 12 Minutes (Annapurna Interactive), and hit every era of gaming in between. Along the way, we’ve learned the basics of storytelling in our Narrative Analysis section, and we’ve explored the strengths and weaknesses of some of our favorite games in our StoryScan section. We’ve also done a deep dive on the Legend of Zelda series in our Game Studies section, exploring the plot, characters, and themes in six of the most recent releases. Taken together, these essays prove how much video game stories have to teach us and how much we can learn from them.

In the year to come, we plan to continue both our Narrative Analysis and StoryScan essays, maintaining our dual focus on teaching general concepts while exploring individual game stories. There are still countless games across consoles and eras that we have yet to touch, including some of our absolute favorites, and new games are changing the way we tell interactive stories every day. We look forward to continuing our studies, and we hope you’ll join us on our academic journey. Your views and comments are what keep us going, and we wouldn’t have made it this far without you.

With sincerest thanks,

Liz Kelly, Founder of Cutscene University

Our Most Popular Articles: 2020-2021

Mother 3 and Pacing

Although Mother 3 is a much-loved cult classic, its irregular structure, perspective switches, and time skips result in an inconsistent pace

StoryScan: Final Fantasy VIII and Setup and Payoff

Final Fantasy VIII’s most infamous plot twist is a failure of both setup and payoff. 

12 Minutes and Theme

12 Minutes develops the theme of mindfulness, by connecting it to plot, character, and setting.

Our Favorite Articles: 2020-2021

Structure In-Depth: Kishotenketsu

A four-act structure that de-emphasizes conflict, focusing instead on complications and change.

Harry finds his police vehicle in the ice

StoryScan: Disco Elysium and Theme

Disco Elysium uses broken things as symbols to emphasize the theme of redemption.

StoryScan: Final Fantasy XIV and Character

Final Fantasy XIV establishes its villain’s character through an arc that forces him to make difficult choices.