When asked if their products can accurately be called 'games', the folks at Telltale Games (creators of The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones) have a pretty simple answer: it doesn't matter, as long as they're good. During a GDC panel entitled 'When Story is the Gameplay: Multi-Genre Writing for Telltale Games', a group of distinguished studio insiders fielded questions on how Telltale creates successful games with such a heavy emphasis on story and few typical gameplay touchstones.
While that method's worked out well for the company so far (The Walking Dead: Season 1 was GamesRadar's Game of the Year in 2012, and The Wolf Among Us made the top 10 for 2014), the absence of traditional gameplay has drawn criticism over whether what Telltale makes are actually video games at all. Other companies may be hit with this accusation more frequently, like Gone Home's The Fullbright Company, but Telltale's dialogue-tree-based system has its fair share of detractors. When the question came up, however, CEO and co-founder Kevin Bruner put the studio's reaction succinctly: "Whether they're games or not, we don't really care."
"We love technology, we love storytelling, we just want to mash the things we love together and make it work." This answer makes sense in light of Telltale's recent interest in creating narrative adaptations for non-narrative games, and plans for an original 'Super Show' that's equal parts video game and TV show.
While this may come as a surprise to fans who do see Telltale's work as very game-like, know that the studio hasn't specifically abandoned the name either. "We love video games," said Bruner. "Our real passions are character development, writing, and playing with computers and software. So we just keep trying to mash those... things together, and gaming is where that lands."