Alan Wake is a survival horror video game released for the Xbox 360 and Windows platforms and developed by Remedy Entertainment, a Finnish company known mostly for their Max Payne video game series. In the plot of the game, a best-selling thriller writer named Alan Wake is trying to overcome his two year writer’s block and mending his marriage by going out on vacations with his wife to a place called Bright Falls. It is here where the storyline starts to develop itself as a thriller narrative, seeing as the game itself from its beginnings alludes to this aspect through a nightmare the main character has, by showing dark corners, mysterious characters and eerie ambiance in plain day during the prologue of the game. As the game progresses the player learns that there are pages scattered around the game environment which foretell events warning the player of dangerous circumstances ahead. These pages add more depth to the transformation of the game from a thriller to a horror game, immersing the player in its structure and pace while wrapping it up in cinematic genres that perform language like episodic storytelling similar to a television series.
The scattered pages were apparently written by the main character himself before the current events of the game itself have come to pass. With these pages, Alan Wake fuses written and visual genres combining cinema, hypertext fiction, interactive fiction, and third-person shooters. The writing partly narrates the events of the game, emphasizing the visual and interactive elements.
The visual language on the other hand, performs like a television show, using the same narrative structures and pace with cliffhangers, plot twists, and recap sequences at the beginning of each episode, highlighting certain details which are important to the player. The game also makes allusions to how both the written and visual language have crossed and influenced each other through works in popular culture. For example, this visual reference to Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of Stephen King’s novel The Shining makes justice to the fusion of multi-genre language in Alan Wake.
Alan Wake also reaffirms written language as the cradle of visual language narrative. The words in these images can be flashed with light by the character’s flashlight and they will transform into the object they describe on the position which they find themselves as well. The kinetic rotation of these words remind us of the potential of written language when displayed in a time-based visual environment.
The written, cinematic, and game language encompass a multitude of genres each structured with their own pace and narrative style all of which are constantly influencing each other in creative feedback loops. The result is something familiar but novel at the same time which gives modern audiences a new take on these familiar genres.