305: The Story Sucks

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ReiverCorrupter:

hecticpicnic:
Damn it would people stop referencing post-modern writes just to be intellectual.Next movie-bob is gonna be comparing super Mario to Finnegan's Wake.

Why can't we get rid of post modernism period? It's fucking useless. Sure, we all build our own narratives of life, so what? It's still absurd to think that there are multiple realities for each person's perspectives. We might not ever know the nature of absolute reality as it is in-itself, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't try. None of post modernism's ideas are novel, they're all just pessimistic bastardizations of older, better thinkers like Kant and Nietzsche. And the cultural nonsense that has arisen from the philosophy is largely a bunch of pessimistic douchebaggery.

I as just making a funny and i assume you were to.I actually like most modern writers Joyce be cause he's Irish and i'm just a proud fucking asshole like that.And Borges he's the man.hat i don't like is modernism(except Kafka he's also the man).Although i do agree with you on the pessimism thing i had to watch Beckett's endgame this year, and god it was just..aweful.I mean it wasn't an aweful play it was just aweful to watch.I do like off topic conversations,lets start another one...What type of music do you like?

In a thread discussing storylines and character development, no one has yet mentioned Planescape: Torment?

hecticpicnic:

ReiverCorrupter:

hecticpicnic:
Damn it would people stop referencing post-modern writes just to be intellectual.Next movie-bob is gonna be comparing super Mario to Finnegan's Wake.

Why can't we get rid of post modernism period? It's fucking useless. Sure, we all build our own narratives of life, so what? It's still absurd to think that there are multiple realities for each person's perspectives. We might not ever know the nature of absolute reality as it is in-itself, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't try. None of post modernism's ideas are novel, they're all just pessimistic bastardizations of older, better thinkers like Kant and Nietzsche. And the cultural nonsense that has arisen from the philosophy is largely a bunch of pessimistic douchebaggery.

I as just making a funny and i assume you were to.I actually like most modern writers Joyce be cause he's Irish and i'm just a proud fucking asshole like that.And Borges he's the man.hat i don't like is modernism(except Kafka he's also the man).Although i do agree with you on the pessimism thing i had to watch Beckett's endgame this year, and god it was just..aweful.I mean it wasn't an aweful play it was just aweful to watch.I do like off topic conversations,lets start another one...What type of music do you like?

Depends on my mood. Tool is #1 though. NIN is up there. I'm going to go see A Perfect Circle in a couple of months so I'm psyched about that. But I also like most classic rock, Zeppelin, The Who, or 70's rock, Eagles and all that. Or Franz Ferdinand, or the Dandy Warhols, or Red Hot Chili Peppers, or Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, Metallica, or Creedence Clearwater Revival. Like I said, depends on my mood. I'm just not into pop or country. I don't actively pursue rap or hip hop but some of it is alright, as is what I consider dance music, techno, dub step, dance-hip hop, what have you, but that's more for dancing than listening to.

Braid had a great Resurrection moment for Tim but also had a crazy realization moment for the player too that I'm afraid too many people overlooked.

Hint: A braid of hair also looks like a bomb fuse.

ReiverCorrupter:

hecticpicnic:

ReiverCorrupter:

Why can't we get rid of post modernism period? It's fucking useless. Sure, we all build our own narratives of life, so what? It's still absurd to think that there are multiple realities for each person's perspectives. We might not ever know the nature of absolute reality as it is in-itself, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't try. None of post modernism's ideas are novel, they're all just pessimistic bastardizations of older, better thinkers like Kant and Nietzsche. And the cultural nonsense that has arisen from the philosophy is largely a bunch of pessimistic douchebaggery.

I as just making a funny and i assume you were to.I actually like most modern writers Joyce be cause he's Irish and i'm just a proud fucking asshole like that.And Borges he's the man.hat i don't like is modernism(except Kafka he's also the man).Although i do agree with you on the pessimism thing i had to watch Beckett's endgame this year, and god it was just..aweful.I mean it wasn't an aweful play it was just aweful to watch.I do like off topic conversations,lets start another one...What type of music do you like?

Depends on my mood. Tool is #1 though. NIN is up there. I'm going to go see A Perfect Circle in a couple of months so I'm psyched about that. But I also like most classic rock, Zeppelin, The Who, or 70's rock, Eagles and all that. Or Franz Ferdinand, or the Dandy Warhols, or Red Hot Chili Peppers, or Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, Metallica, or Creedence Clearwater Revival. Like I said, depends on my mood. I'm just not into pop or country. I don't actively pursue rap or hip hop but some of it is alright, as is what I consider dance music, techno, dub step, dance-hip hop, what have you, but that's more for dancing than listening to.

I used to be into that kinda stuff.I started loving metal and then complex stuff like tool and prog rock.And then one summer i got really into ska,and my tastes just exploded from there, punk(the good stuff, not a fan of hardcore) swing ,prog rock and anything with a cheesey drum machine that's not pretending to be a real drum(as you said it depends on mood).I'm really picky when it comes to my electronic music but i do like it.If i had a band though i'd probably play psychedelic jam jazz rock stuff ,and if i had a proper music studio i'd probably make trip-hop like protished or massive attack.

CrawlingPastaHellion:
To Jon Davies,

***Contains some big spoilers on recent and not so recent movies and a couple of relatively old games***

By "defining" a good story that way you exclude many more possible foundations for a memorable story. A good story can be built around characters with little development. Having little development doesn't necessarily mean a character is not memorable. What about larger than life heroes (anime example: Haruko from Fooly Cooly), lovable rogue heroes (another anime example: Isaac and Miriam from Baccano!), cynical heroes (Garreth from Thief 3: Deadly Shadows) and so on. A good story will still be a good story even if the characters in it are as one-dimensional as a photon.

However if you have a shitty storyline even great character development won't save it. And I mean a story has to be good from the very beginning to the very end. A simple story plus good character development can work though, that is true.

And the part about sacrifice is simply ridiculous: you really do think that by killing off a character at the end the drama becomes more engaging. It doesn't, unless that sacrifice is meaningful and has a massive weight, like say in Black Swan or The Myst. And in case of Zelda, of course, it wouldn't be meaningful at all.

In case of Braid, the game is as open to interpretations as your run off the mill Coen bros. movie (one of the most overrated directors imho). So you really can't say if the guy learned anything at all. I always saw Braid as a reflection, but a reflection doesn't mean a lesson well learned. Memories are interpretive as well (Memento was good in showing us that), so whether you learn something or not is entirely up to you. And what is a "lesson well learned anyways"? Or does everybody have to conform to the views of society: its distorted morals, ideals and visions on life?

I for one would like to see a character walk away from his demise whilst flashing a middle finger at the world, VTM: Bloodlines style.

He didn't learn anything at all. I thought the point was pretty obvious that he's in a rationalization loop for helping invent a weapon of mass destruction, and he's gone mad. Everytime he reaches the Ressurection moment he chooses to sink back into cognitive dissonance, which everyone can relate to because it happens to us all whether we realize it or not.

hecticpicnic:

ReiverCorrupter:

hecticpicnic:
I as just making a funny and i assume you were to.I actually like most modern writers Joyce be cause he's Irish and i'm just a proud fucking asshole like that.And Borges he's the man.hat i don't like is modernism(except Kafka he's also the man).Although i do agree with you on the pessimism thing i had to watch Beckett's endgame this year, and god it was just..aweful.I mean it wasn't an aweful play it was just aweful to watch.I do like off topic conversations,lets start another one...What type of music do you like?

Depends on my mood. Tool is #1 though. NIN is up there. I'm going to go see A Perfect Circle in a couple of months so I'm psyched about that. But I also like most classic rock, Zeppelin, The Who, or 70's rock, Eagles and all that. Or Franz Ferdinand, or the Dandy Warhols, or Red Hot Chili Peppers, or Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, Metallica, or Creedence Clearwater Revival. Like I said, depends on my mood. I'm just not into pop or country. I don't actively pursue rap or hip hop but some of it is alright, as is what I consider dance music, techno, dub step, dance-hip hop, what have you, but that's more for dancing than listening to.

I used to be into that kinda stuff.I started loving metal and then complex stuff like tool and prog rock.And then one summer i got really into ska,and my tastes just exploded from there, punk(the good stuff, not a fan of hardcore) swing ,prog rock and anything with a cheesey drum machine that's not pretending to be a real drum(as you said it depends on mood).I'm really picky when it comes to my electronic music but i do like it.If i had a band though i'd probably play psychedelic jam jazz rock stuff ,and if i had a proper music studio i'd probably make trip-hop like protished or massive attack.

Yeah, I'm a bit weird as far as music goes, I like it to be heavy but still melodic, and Tool accomplishes that very well imo. Alice in Chains does it amazingly as well. Can't stand cacophony though which makes me steer clear of most speed metal and punk. There isn't a lot out there for the heavy/melodic mix that I'm aware of. I'd spend more time looking for music if I had the time to spare. Literature too. I'm desperately deprived of literature because I pretty much exclusively read philosophy. Plus reading philosophy has kind of spoiled me because I'm used to having complex ideas presented in a condensed and clear manner. There's definitely philosophical merit in a lot of literature but you have to sort through the plot to get at it. Guess I'm an idea junkie. Damn academia.

jspock:
FFS, would the entire industry please stop using the Hero's Journey as if it is some sort of literary ideal? The Hero's Journey is limited, linear, archaic, and inflexible. Seriously, if we sat down and came up with adjectives that we would never want to apply to a game story it would be hard to beat those four.

Glad to see I'm not the only person who's thoroughly sick of Campbell's appropriation by genre fiction.

I can think of plenty of games with character development, I can also recall these games as among my favourites.

No More Heroes 1 (kinda)/2 (for certain)
Bulletstorm
Portal 2

Ok, I take that back, I can think of 4. Good games, but yeah. 4.

ReiverCorrupter:

hecticpicnic:

ReiverCorrupter:

Depends on my mood. Tool is #1 though. NIN is up there. I'm going to go see A Perfect Circle in a couple of months so I'm psyched about that. But I also like most classic rock, Zeppelin, The Who, or 70's rock, Eagles and all that. Or Franz Ferdinand, or the Dandy Warhols, or Red Hot Chili Peppers, or Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, Metallica, or Creedence Clearwater Revival. Like I said, depends on my mood. I'm just not into pop or country. I don't actively pursue rap or hip hop but some of it is alright, as is what I consider dance music, techno, dub step, dance-hip hop, what have you, but that's more for dancing than listening to.

I used to be into that kinda stuff.I started loving metal and then complex stuff like tool and prog rock.And then one summer i got really into ska,and my tastes just exploded from there, punk(the good stuff, not a fan of hardcore) swing ,prog rock and anything with a cheesey drum machine that's not pretending to be a real drum(as you said it depends on mood).I'm really picky when it comes to my electronic music but i do like it.If i had a band though i'd probably play psychedelic jam jazz rock stuff ,and if i had a proper music studio i'd probably make trip-hop like protished or massive attack.

Yeah, I'm a bit weird as far as music goes, I like it to be heavy but still melodic, and Tool accomplishes that very well imo. Alice in Chains does it amazingly as well. Can't stand cacophony though which makes me steer clear of most speed metal and punk. There isn't a lot out there for the heavy/melodic mix that I'm aware of. I'd spend more time looking for music if I had the time to spare. Literature too. I'm desperately deprived of literature because I pretty much exclusively read philosophy. Plus reading philosophy has kind of spoiled me because I'm used to having complex ideas presented in a condensed and clear manner. There's definitely philosophical merit in a lot of literature but you have to sort through the plot to get at it. Guess I'm an idea junkie. Damn academia.

I find it hard to read anything..taxing on the mind without some coercion unless i'm in a academic environment e.g. school.Especially to start a book.I much prefer pondering idea's most of the stuff i think about i find out that people have though of before like that french philosopher that said something like the fact that i ponder my existence is prof that i exist.I also like arguing with friends about philosophy and learning stuff from others talking.But i find it hard to get threw old books that say stuff ,but its hidden in the narrative.Funnily enough, its opposite for shows i like.I don't like the idea's shoved in my face i like finding out though the story.Especially if its a good story.

P.s. i just realized now that hat you said is basically the same thing i said i'm just too lazy to edit it.Also i like realist writing/plays and pulp fiction stuff.

Thank gawd someone FINALLY called out bioshock. So few games have a semblance of a story nowadays that modern gamers don't know the difference between "has a story" and "has a good story".

This is why the trailer I've seen for Transformers 3 makes me cringe. Superhero trilogies are a lot like the three acts in an actual movie, or at least the good ones are, in structure if not execution. Let's assume that 'talks to cars that transform into robots' is close enough to a superpower to qualify.
Movie 1: Sam finds out he can talk to cars that transform into robots who are fighting a war.
Movie 2: Sam wrestles with whether he can shoulder the burden associated with this ability.
Movie 2: Yes, yes he can... But it's making him an ass. Time to finish growing up and deliver the coup de gracie to the bad guy(s).

#3 seems to be still stuck in #2 with the incomptent, paranoid delusional, and obstructive suit (only now with boobs, so it's totally different) who could easily be a spy continues to do what s/he did last time, and Sam is taking it up the bum until the final act.

Your trilogy is screwed up if there might as well have not been a second movie. This applies to games that have the same protagonist (well, 'human' ones at any rate, Kirby would be an exception, so would Mario, but not Snake).

I still think this is a split conflict with me.

Games are a unique form of entertainment in that they don't need a good story to be entertaining. Most multiplier games get bashed all the time for being bad because their stories suck, but in the end, a lot of people have an enjoyable time playing them. The contrast between gameplay and storytelling is akin to the contrast between sports and books; are sports lame because they lack the ability to examine the human condition? Or are books lame because they lack the competitive engagement of winning and losing?

I still think that seeing more story driven games would be nice, but when it comes to games, I chant the Blizzard mantra in that "gameplay comes first". It's what sets games apart, and it's what I expect to be good when stepping into a game.

In the end, I want to see games perfect that balance of interactivity and story like comics did for picture and word, but I'll never devalue what each side merits on it's own just for the sake of finding some acceptance into society or prestige in art.

Holy crap. I've written better research papers than this when I've only got three hours to do a paper twice the length.

Seriously, video games are different. I'm going to give one example. Commander "I Save the Goddmaned Universe" Shepard.

Each person who plays a Mass Effect game plays Shepard different to one degree or another. The emotional gratification doesn't come entirely from the narrative structure of the story in the game (Something when we are talking about video games is not, or shouldn't be, isolated from the rest of the elements that make up the game. When you talk video games you're talking the sum of the parts being greater than the whole.) part of the characters development is internal, unique, and probably on some level only understandable to the one player playing that game.

Shepard is only as stunted or growth-happy as the player playing him or her. To apply traditional narrative theory straight to what is a non-traditional narrative medium is asking for hurt. You've got to adapt that stuff and apply it to the uniqueness of video games.

While the article raises a lot of interesting points, it ignores something pivotal about video games as a medium: they aren't plays. Or movies, or books, or anything. In movies or plays, the audience experiences emotional catharsis from the resurrection when the protagonist experiences them because the audience is not directly involved; they are watching the events with no input.

Because of the nature of video games, the same formula does not apply. The point of a video game story should not be to let the character reach his resurrection, but to get the PLAYER to reach it. The AUDIENCE experiences what the blank character does not because they ARE the character. No other game exemplifies this more then Half Life and it's sequels. Gordan Freeman is the blank slate of all blank slates, and because of that he never gets his resurrection. The story is not any the lesser for it though, because while playing the Half Life games the player is fundamentally changed by the things they experience. That is the ultimate goal of interactive media: to make sure the person doing the interacting is the one who feels the catharsis themselves, not by proxy through another character.

Not that I'm disagreeing with the article or saying that no games should have their own stories or characters or anything like that, I'm just saying there's nothing wrong with going in the other direction as well.

jspock:

The Hero's Journey, let's say it all together, was an exploration of Jungian psychology and the monomyth, and in particular a fascinating study of the similarities between certain archetypal tales from different cultures across the world. Taking it as some sort of ideal blueprint for a game narrative is not just wildly off-base; it's a lazy attempt to find convenient cut-and-paste shortcuts instead of doing the hard work of crafting a good story.

QFT. It's not like stories can't be made using the monomyth as a template, (e.g. Star Wars) but they don't have to be and that's not what the theory of the monomyth is about in the first place. Especially when they're in a nonlinear medium.

Also, I'd submit that many of the best stories don't have any deep character development at all - Odysseus, for instance (alongside most other Homeric characters), is a completely static character, and is easily one of the most compelling fictional characters, period. The concept of the ideal story being a middle-aged middle-class male navel-gazing over coffee is pretty recent in the history of storytelling.

Why should the ultimate conclusion to a story be the sacrifice of your character? If growth is what's ultimately intended to be expressed, why not learn from past mistakes rather than sacrificing oneself to prevent future ones? You say that Link and Zelda could sacrifice their adult lives to prevent the possible future release of evil when there is no certainty that that will in fact occur. I could understand the sacrifice if it was say, the end of Diablo, where the hero., feeling Diablo's influence growing within him, finds no other option, or, say, if the goal was to prevent the release of a contagion that the hero finds themself infected with in the end. But to kill oneself over a moral dilemma seems pointless.

randomfox:
While the article raises a lot of interesting points, it ignores something pivotal about video games as a medium: they aren't plays. Or movies, or books, or anything. In movies or plays, the audience experiences emotional catharsis from the resurrection when the protagonist experiences them because the audience is not directly involved; they are watching the events with no input.

Because of the nature of video games, the same formula does not apply. The point of a video game story should not be to let the character reach his resurrection, but to get the PLAYER to reach it. The AUDIENCE experiences what the blank character does not because they ARE the character. No other game exemplifies this more then Half Life and it's sequels. Gordan Freeman is the blank slate of all blank slates, and because of that he never gets his resurrection. The story is not any the lesser for it though, because while playing the Half Life games the player is fundamentally changed by the things they experience. That is the ultimate goal of interactive media: to make sure the person doing the interacting is the one who feels the catharsis themselves, not by proxy through another character.

Not that I'm disagreeing with the article or saying that no games should have their own stories or characters or anything like that, I'm just saying there's nothing wrong with going in the other direction as well.

goddamn if there was a rep system here you would get all the rep.

this is absolutely 100% true. a ton of what games awesome is the player being the character that arcs. ive had complete arcs in games. mordin from mass effect2. i went from hating his guts to empathizing to even caring for him by the end of that game.

Following a series of illogically numbered chapters, Tim enters the attic and faces the Ordeal of the fire chase and is Rewarded with the Princess' freedom. But the Princess runs from him and a terrible realization dawns as she thwarts his pursuit during The Road Back. Here the character change is only one of perspective, occurring the very moment Tim and the player realize the Princess' captor from the beginning of the sequence is actually her savior. The change in the flow of time has Resurrected Tim from the delusion of his own virtue: He is - and has always been - the villain. The purpose of Tim's journey was never to rescue the Princess, but to learn this crucial truth about himself. Tim is forever changed.

this was a piece that sent shivers down my spine because i remembered my own similar experience with the game. thanks for that. :-)

as you spoke about with braid, it certainly doesnt have to be that way, with the player being the lead character, but the blank slate games are ones where the player is the lead character who (ideally) has his own arc. and the character games, braid, prince of persia, beyond good and evil, etc are the games where you experience cathartically the main characters arc.

I think I trash this whole argument with three words: Duke Nukem Forever.
Because if in that game Duke's heart grows three sizes and suddenly he's slightly less of a macho sexist pig then I'm gonna want to shove my copy up one of the developer's asses.

No, no, every story doesn't have to be The Grinch that Stole Christmas.

The Random One:

IvoryTowerGamer:
I hate to sound so negative, but isn't the article's entire point undermined by the amount of literary acclaim Waiting for Godot has received despite the fact that the characters never change? If video games are "only" as deep as Beckett's play then I'd say they're actually doing pretty well.

What? No, Waiting does it deliberately. It's essentially a commentary on idleness. If you ended up writing Waiting while trying to write a 'regular' play you'd have failed.

Other works can't do it deliberately as well? I don't think Waiting for Godot exhausted all the thematic possibilities about a story where your protagonist doesn't change.

Umm, Uncharted 2 anyone?

Took me back to my degree. God I miss uni.

I think a strong piece of evidence in favor of this article's thesis is that the greatest video game ever made was explicitly about "what can change the nature of a man."

Edit:

tgbennett30:
In a thread discussing storylines and character development, no one has yet mentioned Planescape: Torment?

It seems I'm not the first to notice this connection.

Similarly, good storytelling isn't measured by complexity or plausibility but emotional gratification

Wow, I couldn't disagree more. In my opinion, all of those are important (depending on genre).

He seems to have missed the point of Bioshock, were it a movie, he would be completely right, but being that videogame's are an interactive medium, it works because the whole point is that the game borrows jack's personality straight off you.
While in other games you often don't feel the same connection to the cause or love interest or whatever of the main character.
In Bioshock it works so well because all of the things are things you NEED. You need ADAM, so you must deal with the struggle of wether or not to kill the Sisters or save them yourself, rather than just watching someone else have the same struggle. It's far more engaging and interactive, even if you don't realise it, and that's really the point of games. (To being engaging and interactive).

ReiverCorrupter:

hecticpicnic:
Damn it would people stop referencing post-modern writes just to be intellectual.Next movie-bob is gonna be comparing super Mario to Finnegan's Wake.

Why can't we get rid of post modernism period? It's fucking useless. Sure, we all build our own narratives of life, so what? It's still absurd to think that there are multiple realities for each person's perspectives. We might not ever know the nature of absolute reality as it is in-itself, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't try. None of post modernism's ideas are novel, they're all just pessimistic bastardizations of older, better thinkers like Kant and Nietzsche. And the cultural nonsense that has arisen from the philosophy is largely a bunch of pessimistic douchebaggery.

Well, that's certainly a valid argument in the rationality of the discourse you are stating it. ;)

The post modern school of thinking is often plain misunderstood or applied in reflective (rather than reflexive) contexts. It isn't a science that includes any constants, so it makes no sense trying logically constructive approaches. Everything is context; the science itself is in a context.

Unfortunately, the thinkers I have found most interesting are so caught up in their academic word mangling that it's nigh on impossible to form a clear understanding of what the "method" of discoursive theory really is. Which might well be the point ....

As a natural scientist, I find the division between reflexivity and reflectivity artificial, but I do aknowledge that no formal theory is every likely to describe human interaction sufficiently.

I for one would be very sad if there were no Burroughs, Ginsberg or Kerouac -- all products of the post modern era.

Also, you haven't come across the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum physics, by any chance? That's the post-modernism in current physics. There really ARE many worlds, is posits. And the number of them are relative to the observer; the absolute number of them could only be known by an omniscient and omnipresent observer.

raankh:

ReiverCorrupter:

hecticpicnic:
Damn it would people stop referencing post-modern writes just to be intellectual.Next movie-bob is gonna be comparing super Mario to Finnegan's Wake.

Why can't we get rid of post modernism period? It's fucking useless. Sure, we all build our own narratives of life, so what? It's still absurd to think that there are multiple realities for each person's perspectives. We might not ever know the nature of absolute reality as it is in-itself, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't try. None of post modernism's ideas are novel, they're all just pessimistic bastardizations of older, better thinkers like Kant and Nietzsche. And the cultural nonsense that has arisen from the philosophy is largely a bunch of pessimistic douchebaggery.

Well, that's certainly a valid argument in the rationality of the discourse you are stating it. ;)

The post modern school of thinking is often plain misunderstood or applied in reflective (rather than reflexive) contexts. It isn't a science that includes any constants, so it makes no sense trying logically constructive approaches. Everything is context; the science itself is in a context.

Unfortunately, the thinkers I have found most interesting are so caught up in their academic word mangling that it's nigh on impossible to form a clear understanding of what the "method" of discoursive theory really is. Which might well be the point ....

As a natural scientist, I find the division between reflexivity and reflectivity artificial, but I do aknowledge that no formal theory is every likely to describe human interaction sufficiently.

I for one would be very sad if there were no Burroughs, Ginsberg or Kerouac -- all products of the post modern era.

Also, you haven't come across the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum physics, by any chance? That's the post-modernism in current physics. There really ARE many worlds, is posits. And the number of them are relative to the observer; the absolute number of them could only be known by an omniscient and omnipresent observer.

Meh. There are coherence theories of truth that argue the same thing. Postmodernism takes it a large step further by thinking that somehow individual human perspectives can each constitute their own reality or version of reality. Blech. If we met aliens that operated by a different system of logic or mathematics, sure, then something like postmodernism would have to apply, but no: human beings share enough of the same intellectual architecture to use the same language and debate things within the same logical constrictions. What is needed is to simply clarify and fully explain the syntactic and semantic structure of the debate so that everyone is on the same page.

If you want something helpful to read to describe the limits of scientific theory, read Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions.

Nimcha:

Similarly, good storytelling isn't measured by complexity or plausibility but emotional gratification

Wow, I couldn't disagree more. In my opinion, all of those are important (depending on genre).

Absolutely. Emotional gratification can be delivered with hardly a well written word or plausible character. The Twilight series delivers tons of 'emotional gratification' to its intended tweener audience, despite poor writing and awful characters. Lots of modern fiction does the same.

Also, always thought Vogler's stuff was sorta paint by numbers instructions.

Thanks for the wonderful article! I agree that too many games have just taken to action without a cause; characters without a reason. They start off bland and end completely forgettable because there is nothing to be said; it's all an excuse for guns and explosions.

Many great action games have been made that include a great and memorable story, but so many others have been churned out with no attention to narrative. With the industry focusing so heavily on building franchises, you would think they would want to put in the effort to build that narrative, giving the franchise body and a reason to continue, but so many of them think they can build a franchise on a name alone.

Focusing on building real, interesting narratives would make games better for players and developers. It would give us a reason to keep coming back and give us something to learn and remember from our experience. That's the difference between entertainment and art: art changes the viewer, whereas entertainment merely keeps them busy.

More people need to play Syberia and The Longest Journey, and more importantly, more game script writers need to play them, and learn.

I can't say that I agree with the notion that the Bioshock protagonist demonstrates how a blank slate character removes a feeling of significance from his choices.

In fact, while the silent protagonist with no discernible personality is common in video games, particularly in first-person, e.g. Wolfenstein, I think Bioshock may be one of the LEAST applicable examples.

We relate to a silent Link through the common method of projection but also through his expressiveness during story scenes. But even that is comparatively one-dimensional. Link is the quintessential hero: he's courageous, he's kind and innocent to a fault, and he shows rather single-minded concern for and devotion to the various iterations of Zelda. But that's the sum total of his character, or better or worse.

Yes, you're a blank slate in Bioshock but I think a very creative solution to that problem is built directly into the story. The whole Andrew Ryan confrontation as a culmination of the revelation of your character shows that the blank slate IS the person you come from at the beginning. You have no memory, no history, no family. Even the choices you make - convinced that you are determining your fate - turn out to be the result of vicious manipulation, through psychology as well as brainwashing.

Though the third act feels like a letdown after this, it is the one part of the game most crucial to your character development. There is a clear line of demarcation between your earlier actions, which are considered to be controlled, and your endgame actions, made free of external influences. You have no idea who or what you are, and so all you have left are your choices. Your choices DEFINE who you are as a person, imprinting a savior or a bastard onto the blank slate.

The resurrection moment comes in the end after making the final decision of what to do with the sisters, at least in the "paragon" ending. Having chosen to save the sisters, you see a montage of them growing up alongside you, having normal lives, getting married, and eventually being there at your bedside at the end of your life. The lesson learned is that the significance of our lives is reflected in the lives we touch, and especially in our family, our progeny. The payoff is that the character has changed away from a blank slate, and unlike other, similar games, the decisions have an impact on your character specifically because he starts out as a blank slate and ends the game as Something Other.

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