Dinner Date: Subverting The Tropes of Mainstream Videogame Interaction

Dinner Date Start

This is an essay I wrote a couple of years ago for the Game Design course I'm attending at Brunel University.

Dinner Date, developed by Stout Games (the company founded and headed by game designer Jeroen D. Stout), is an IGF nominated short game that tries to approach the video game medium from a different standpoint, with a structure that has more in common with play-writing that with most mainstream games (Stout, 2011a). The game was released in 2010 through digital distribution channels (although it arrived on Steam only in 2011) and received mixed reaction from audience and critics alike (Metacritic, 2013), with most criticism focusing on the extremely uncommon interactive formula used by Stout's work. Quoting from gamezone.com:
“As an intellectual experiment, Dinner Date is interesting and even profound. [...] As a game, it barely qualifies.”(GameZone, 2011)
Naturally we're not here to argue such a line of thought, that seems a constant through most of the "critics" that approached Dinner Date. Instead my goal here is to analyse the game's meticulous subversion of the formal and ludic elements common in mainstream video games that caused such a reaction.