Drusain: your analysis of GK seems really astute and would function very effectively as both a critical analysis of the game and an example to be emulated or dissected for future game designers. One thing that strikes me, though, is that you stopped your analysis *at the point that the player gains control of Gabe* - that is, the point at which "Gabriel Knight" stops being a movie and starts being a game.
Now, I'm not trying to undermine you or show you up or anything. And I can't say for certain why your analysis stopped there: it might just be that you found the intro really intriguing, and so decided to focus on that rather than later gameplay. But I do think it's interesting that as soon as Gabriel and the player become one (or at least become sort of fused together), things get a lot more complicated. This seems to me to be at the heart of discussions of video games as art or culture or, to be frank, anything more than toys. We have examples of artistic works that we consider "artistic", but they're all linear and don't involve the audience as much as videogames do. We have examples of interactive activities - games like chess, or tag, or cowboys and indians - but these are not seen as "artistic" in the way that, say, the works of Tenessee Williams are. We feel that we should be able to mould the two together but we don't really know how, because there's no roadmap.
But as to your opening question - I think Gabriel Knight 2 could be an even more fruitful source of study than GK1, simply because it takes a lot of apparently dissimilar things and shows how they're similar. It takes Wagner's operas in particular and Germanic culture in general, Nietzschean ideas of the Will to Power, the tradition of noblemen hunting, fear of uncontrollable desires and uncontrollable animals, the torment of the unconscious with regard to Ludwig II, perhaps more generally the act of keeping something secret and of things being hidden and dangerous - and it wraps them all up in the Werewolf myth. To me, that seems to be an act of storytelling as subtle as the complex of symbols and metaphors in most literary works.
What bothers me about using GK2, though, is that there's a lot of stuff in there that doesn't really fit into such an artistic vision. Gabe solving a puzzle by recording the head warden's voice on his tape machine and then manipulating it to make the zoo guard let Gabe into the animal pen seems, to me, like a regular puzzle, albeit an ingenious one. I suppose it might tell us that Gabe is ingenious, but it's probably more likely to make the *player* feel ingenious, so that effect is sort of dulled. And perhaps you could detect a thematic point about warden himself - the zoo warden is a member of a hunting club but also head of a zoo, which is an interesting juxtaposition - but to develop that into an argument that by stealing his voice and manipulating it on tape you're using technology against a beast or something... well, that just seems a bit forced to me. Sometimes a puzzle is just a puzzle. My problem is, given that videogames have so much stuff which is filler or challenge or exists to slow us down and engage us on a ludic level, how does all this stuff relate to the artistic integrity of the whole? I'd say it probably doesn't, or at least doesn't *that much*. Everything the player experiences within the game is, by definition, part of the game experience, but there's so much that can seem dissonant.
Also, if you simply want to point English students towards things that will map onto the English course a little better, you could try text adventures. Granted, many of these are punishing puzzle-fests with little resemblance to novels or drama, even though they're written in text form. But I've heard that some older games, like A Mind Forever Voyaging, are literary enough that they're considered masterpieces. In my own opinion, the commercial death of text adventures has only improved the creativity with which they are written: the annaul text adventure competition frequently yields wonderful results. Two of my favourite text games are The Baron and Fate, both by Victor Gijsbers
. I think both of these - especially the Baron - are literary enough to be considered artistic. What's interesting about the Baron, though, is that you can't fail. There are no puzzles, only decisions. Without the threat of failure, the player is free to explore the game and take more expressive decisions which would normally be considered foolish.