Catherine's Complex View of Commitment

 Pages 1 2 NEXT
 

Catherine's Complex View of Commitment

Leigh Alexander celebrates how Catherine moves beyond boobs to address the genuine complexity of modern relationships.

Read Full Article

Love it. Welcome back to The Escapist.

Cheers

Colin

That was really good, I'm still waiting for Catherine to get released over here in the UK. but the way it deals with relationships was one of the main things that got me interested in it, other than it was by the people who made the excellent Persona games. Looking forward to your future writings on here! Welcome back as well, your stuff has always been great I thought.

Catherine was amazing but boobs are amazing too. In praising this game many people jump to say "Well, it rocks but definitely not because of boobs, nah, that's not it!" when they should be saying "This game did boobs well and wasn't shallow or childish about them".

I suppose boldly admitting deriving enjoyment from boobs (or...eroge :P) as something higher than media made for the purpose of fulfilling the most base of our instincts is still far away for our society...but we can still hope.

Nice read and I can't wait for more. :)

Interesting article.
The reasons you stated in your article, are definitely the reasons I bought Catherine; the anime style and platforming are essential to the game, and I love them both, but the game's take on relationships and human interactions, is the primary reason.
For me, I am doing the platforming and talking to sheep, to get to the next cut scene where I can see my character make his situation worse, so I know how to pull his ass out of the fire.
There have been times where my answer to essential relationship questions, has yielded a result opposite of what I thought it should, but after alot of thought, I can usually reason out where I went wrong, so I can answer more accurately next time.

All in all, Catherine is a great game, and people who hate on it, are really missing out.

I am fond of phrases like "it's just a game"...

So, you were right. Didn't really enjoy it.

This was certainly interesting and makes me anticipate a European release even more.

It'd also be fascinating to read further articles on sex and games that hopefully aims slightly higher than the average texts on the subject. After all, how many times will we have to see some so-called journalist try to tackle the sex-elephant in the room when talking about any given game that features adult subjects, only to see them misunderstand their own aesthetic sensibilities for a moral yardstick. ("This game attempts to tackle mature subject matters but ends up being too gratuitous.") That's a value-judgement that only inhibits the debate of what the game actually offers and brings absolutely nothing new to the greater discussion.

A series of articles devoid of moralizing and preachiness would be awesome indeed.

I enjoyed the thread, but the sentence, "Our values have shifted to admire the single woman - and the single mother - as figures to admire rather than to pity." seemed odd for having admire repeated twice. I don't state this as any meaningful thing, but just throwing it out there. Good luck with the column.

A good, and thought-provoking, column. A game like Catherine really is what the 'mature gamer' community needs to rally around when the uneducated masses play the sex and debauchery card. The game itself is indeed about so much more than what the cover-art might suggest. Too often I think people both inside the community and outside take being 'mature' about sex means to take it in a serious, no-nonsense manner, when realistically Catherine hits the nail on the head: to be mature about sex, you don't have to take it seriously, so much as you have to not get overly-excited about it in any direction. It is what it is. It has many implications, but to harp on about it only makes it seem as though all you have is inexperience. Respect it, admit it's complexities, and move on. Simple and easy.

I'm looking forward to seeing what else your column covers. More like this and it should be a consistently good read.

As much as I understand the generally neutral tone of the article, there's one underlying assumption that I didn't want to let slide. May as well try to pull a thread out of it too.

Leigh Alexander:
Our values have shifted to admire the single woman - and the single mother - as figures to admire rather than to pity.

Maybe it's the circles I run, but I can't help but feel that that statement is wishful thinking if not merely specific to a very limited set of social circles. That is, a single woman is more accepted by culture in general while admired by the Social Justice/Feminism centric communities, which is nitpicking and not worth commenting on.

So more specifically and to the point, a single mother is not something we admire.

Nor should it be because of what it represents. Somewhere along the line, (typically) two people made a mistake and had a child within a relationship that wasn't going to last. First and foremost, that's what a single mother represents - a mistake if not a broken relationship.

There's a lot of influences, mindsets, and assumptions typically going into making that mistake or broken relationship, things that generally paint a picture of a demonstratively unhealthy society, but I'll just point out one that's in the article - the rise of self-gratification over commitment and responsibility. It's true, this is happening, and it's just as true that it's a bad thing.

Which is not to say that there aren't single mothers who are worth admiring. Quite the contrary, my mom raised me and my brother on her own for much of our adolescence and childhood, and she did a damn good job given the cards she was dealt. That's admirable. On the other side of the coin, there are single mothers out there who are outright destructive parents and a lot more who are simply not mature enough to be a good or admirable mother. Which ignores the part where a family really does need a father worthy of the title for many reasons (speaking from experience and legit sources on my side of this political mire).

As for the game itself, I'm glad Catherine is taking a more mature approach to sexuality and relationships than the vast majority of games have even attempted. I'm just as hesitant in that it appears (haven't played) that both central women figures in the game are archetypes with popularized traits that also happen to be unhealthy - the marriage wrecker vs the jealous/demanding relationship nut. I'm fully aware of the role and trends this game is trying to cater to, doesn't change what those things represent - two bad choices teetering over what should be an obvious and obviously destructive mistake.

That said, I do sympathize with the Catherine who's tired of waiting for the protagonist to grow the hell up, and it's just as possible that she is merely acting out that frustration rather than being something like a control freak.

An absolutely brilliant article. I'm truly glad that there is a writer here now that sees Eroge as more than just "them crazy Japanese porno games."

Some of the best stories I have ever experienced have been from Eroge, my favourite one in particular being the "Bully" case from Yume Miru Kusuri. Catherine is right up there as well, the Order True End was fantastic and the Freedom True End had me really worked up.

Welcome to the Escapist and I look forward to reading more from you in the coming months.

I've never figured out what makes sex so taboo of a subject. The only drawback (granted, a back-breaking one) is childbirth, but contraceptive devices can easily detract that danger. Frankly, society has got to get over its irrational fears, including religious ones like adultery in favorable circumstances.

Catherine was truly a great work. I was initially intrigued by Catherine because it was from the Persona team (and I admit, I'll basically gobble up anything they might make). It wasn't until I actually played that I saw it was fantastic by itself.

I agree in saying that it's a true "mature" approach to relationships. Great article.

I just want to add that I liked the true order ending. I mean come on, it was cute!

Oh man. OH MAN. This column is so up my alley. I'm so stoked.

Excellent debut from a writer whose style I've always admired. Lots of food for thought here. Can't wait for next week's!

Excellent, one of my favourite writers and a topic I personally find worthy of discussion. While this article itself was a little light on content, I eagerly anticipate the next.

Oh, and I loved this statement:
"If you're fond of phrases like "it's just a game," or if you'd prefer to take the direct route through your relationship with games - aim, fire, next! - then this probably isn't a series of articles you'll enjoy."

Thank you, Leigh, for just putting that out there. I know it may not really help in the end but the closed minded approach to what games could/should be was a constant irritant in the comment threads for Extra Credits. Maybe this initial disclaimer in the initial entry will make it clear to at least a few people that if this is a topic you're not into, just don't read the articles and don't waste everyone's time by commenting on them.

Leigh Alexander:
but the real victory for mature gaming that Catherine achieved is how it reflects the unspoken anxieties, the broad social questions and truths, of the world in which we live.

Some interesting ideas in this article. As I do not routinely comment on the Escapist, there are a few ideas presented here that I think merit, at least, some debate.

Ms. Alexander points out that the two (primary) pathways of psychological titillation are through the use of sexuality, and death. As a truth (while we are on the subject), sex and death are both some of the easiest accesses to human responses due to the base nature of the experiences. Both the ease of implementation and the large audience these methods address is explanation enough as to why they are seen as much as they are (in electronic entertainment). However, I am not sure that a case for sexuality is being made by referencing Japanese games, especially the eroge games, as a projection of western society and the paradigm shifts towards a singles lifestyle. I am simply at a loss as to how to bring something like "Itazura Gokuaku" into the discourse and maintain a straight face, or ask a Japanese woman what her thoughts are on the subject matter every time she boards the A-Train to Shinjuku.

The movie references do share some similarities to the themes in Catherine, but I will address those in conclusion.

On Catherine, it certainly borrowed from the steam of the Persona series, and this is quite intentional. Shin Megami Tensei has had most of its market success (especially in the west) with the Persona spin off and derivatives, so why not attempt to associate a new IP with the series? In the context of the Persona series, the fourth game is certainly more sexually charged than it's predecessor. At least one sexual relationship is implied between the protagonist and a secondary social link, further more, one of the party members is dealing with his own sexual conflicts. In this sense it would be quite debatable that the Persona 4 game is, in fact, more socially aware of its own dealing with complex sexual issues in the medium of electronic entertainment. Just as Persona 3 deals almost exclusively with a gnosis and messianic construct that is very familiar in Japanese electronic RPG's. Beyond the obvious sexual nature of Catherine (on the outset), there is no linking ties to the content, aside from the anime style art direction and music composition.

Catherine debatably lacks the depth of character that the Persona series brings to the table. What is there in Catherine then? A man who is pulled one way or the other by dominate females in his life? Seemingly trapped by a conundrum of his illusionary freedom "do what I want with whom I want", or "face up to the responsibilities of life as parent". A sense of psychological "magical thinking" that relates his experiences to some vague concept that those experiences will and are shaping reality. Truly, nonsense. A nonsense, nevertheless, that many people have and continue to have today (especially in the west). It is socially relevant, but I doubt that "it" is, or the "audience" is, even aware of that relevance or grim conclusions.

Invariably I found no sexual exploration in Catherine other than as the lead in, the initial titillation to dupe the player into a very simplistic three-way of immaturity, fear, and social reflexivity on the narrative side, and a puzzle game of dubious merit on the interactive side. Hardly anything more than the monetization of mediocrity. So what is Catherine then, other than a Japanese spin of the "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World"?

The sad part is that it is games such as Catherine, and to an extent the eroge games of Japan, that demonstrate the video games limitations when exploring anything that is complex in the way of social interactivity. The west has had some titles that are exceptions to this rule, but those are easily explained by the influences from which they borrow. If there is a market for this medium (and there certainly is), it is in the fact that many of those who interact and consume this medium are as shallow and short sighted as those who produced it.

It has appeared to me as a trend of society, and that is interesting in many ways. I would have a hard time stating that what this is, is a general crumbled society and weak social values that are driving weak social value medium, or weak social value medium that continues to drive a society seeking a panacea to justify the fact that it is failed and weak on the personal level.

Is Catherine making a social statement? Sure, but that is just it, I am not convinced that it is "aware" of the statement that it is making. A pregnant woman faced with the reality that the man she has a relationship with may not be the man she "envisioned" he was, thus a control issue from beginning to end. Did she know him on any real level, or just his personification presented to her, or her imagination of him presented to herself? A socially reflexive woman who thrives on the opinions and reactions of others... nothing new here. Could be this guy or a dozen of others, totally irrelevant. A man who is driven around like a pig with a ring his nose by every breeze that happens his way. It is Scott Pilgrim, the every man, or teenager rather.

It's not complex issues of sex, its fear, all the way around. It is common but the appeal is one of seemingly insidious if not subconscious use of the availability heuristic. As the previous paragraph asked, is it society demanding more examples of nonsense to self justify itself, or is it media trending towards the data of the crumbling society and fueling the feel good of dubious choices made good?

The American movie line up mentioned all seem to play to these questionable and dubious themes. I could simply reference an episode of ABC's "secret life of the American teenager" and ask the questions, "where is the outrage, where is the backlash?" That perhaps is the point. Catherine explores some of the most negative aspects of the dualistic nature of people, especially women, and the most pathetic nature of man. Much like many of these movies portray and to that end, the television show demonstrates.

The question again, "Where is the outrage where is the backlash"? Where is the meaningful debate or conversation? I do not think there is one to be had really.

I suppose to sum up, is to ask the question, how is digital medium to "best" works such as "Autobiography of a flea" or the works of Marquis de Sod? When it comes to exploring the darker natures of human sexuality? Is the only question concerning sexuality in the digital mediums to be the farce of Electronic Arts self debasing it's own properties such as Mass Effect 2, to start a meaningless conflict?

Why is it that modern digital works are noted for being the heralds of the paradigm shift in western society, when many who would praise these works have no real experience in or with long term relationships or matters of responsibility? How could this be anything more than an a priori, which is nothing more than imagination land and assumptions. This is not a statement of attack, rather a question of competence.

How is there to be an objective weighing of the medium, when those doing the creating and the weighing, truly, do not know the difference.

Perhaps my own difficulty with this lies not with the subject matter, certainly as a contributing member of Hong Fire, I am well aware of this material. As a father and married man of 12 years I am no stranger to long term relationships. What troubles me is that this notion of what is social expected and frowned upon is used a "truthiness" of things, when in a more objective reality, they have no bearing on reality at all.

Has "truth" of the world in which we live been explored?

I think yes, but not through the content of the medium, rather that the medium exist at all and is praised as a triumph of "something" is far more telling of the situation in which we find ourselves in the western society today. I suppose it is to say that I am in as much of an agreement with this as perhaps I am of Dawkins and his Selfish gene... merely a zeitgest of the age, not really true, as far as truths go. That is to say, I find the thing debatable.

mfeff:

Leigh Alexander:
but the real victory for mature gaming that Catherine achieved is how it reflects the unspoken anxieties, the broad social questions and truths, of the world in which we live.

Some interesting ideas in this article. As I do not routinely comment on the Escapist, there are a few ideas presented here that I think merit, at least, some debate.

Ms. Alexander points out that the two (primary) pathways of psychological titillation are through the use of sexuality, and death. As a truth (while we are on the subject), sex and death are both some of the easiest accesses to human responses due to the base nature of the experiences. Both the ease of implementation and the large audience these methods address is explanation enough as to why they are seen as much as they are (in electronic entertainment). However, I am not sure that a case for sexuality is being made by referencing Japanese games, especially the eroge games, as a projection of western society and the paradigm shifts towards a singles lifestyle. I am simply at a loss as to how to bring something like "Itazura Gokuaku" into the discourse and maintain a straight face, or ask a Japanese woman what her thoughts are on the subject matter every time she boards the A-Train to Shinjuku.

The movie references do share some similarities to the themes in Catherine, but I will address those in conclusion.

On Catherine, it certainly borrowed from the steam of the Persona series, and this is quite intentional. Shin Megami Tensei has had most of its market success (especially in the west) with the Persona spin off and derivatives, so why not attempt to associate a new IP with the series? In the context of the Persona series, the fourth game is certainly more sexually charged than it's predecessor. At least one sexual relationship is implied between the protagonist and a secondary social link, further more, one of the party members is dealing with his own sexual conflicts. In this sense it would be quite debatable that the Persona 4 game is, in fact, more socially aware of its own dealing with complex sexual issues in the medium of electronic entertainment. Just as Persona 3 deals almost exclusively with a gnosis and messianic construct that is very familiar in Japanese electronic RPG's. Beyond the obvious sexual nature of Catherine (on the outset), there is no linking ties to the content, aside from the anime style art direction and music composition.

Catherine debatably lacks the depth of character that the Persona series brings to the table. What is there in Catherine then? A man who is pulled one way or the other by dominate females in his life? Seemingly trapped by a conundrum of his illusionary freedom "do what I want with whom I want", or "face up to the responsibilities of life as parent". A sense of psychological "magical thinking" that relates his experiences to some vague concept that those experiences will and are shaping reality. Truly, nonsense. A nonsense, nevertheless, that many people have and continue to have today (especially in the west). It is socially relevant, but I doubt that "it" is, or the "audience" is, even aware of that relevance or grim conclusions.

Invariably I found no sexual exploration in Catherine other than as the lead in, the initial titillation to dupe the player into a very simplistic three-way of immaturity, fear, and social reflexivity on the narrative side, and a puzzle game of dubious merit on the interactive side. Hardly anything more than the monetization of mediocrity. So what is Catherine then, other than a Japanese spin of the "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World"?

The sad part is that it is games such as Catherine, and to an extent the eroge games of Japan, that demonstrate the video games limitations when exploring anything that is complex in the way of social interactivity. The west has had some titles that are exceptions to this rule, but those are easily explained by the influences from which they borrow. If there is a market for this medium (and there certainly is), it is in the fact that many of those who interact and consume this medium are as shallow and short sighted as those who produced it.

It has appeared to me as a trend of society, and that is interesting in many ways. I would have a hard time stating that what this is, is a general crumbled society and weak social values that are driving weak social value medium, or weak social value medium that continues to drive a society seeking a panacea to justify the fact that it is failed and weak on the personal level.

Is Catherine making a social statement? Sure, but that is just it, I am not convinced that it is "aware" of the statement that it is making. A pregnant woman faced with the reality that the man she has a relationship with may not be the man she "envisioned" he was, thus a control issue from beginning to end. Did she know him on any real level, or just his personification presented to her, or her imagination of him presented to herself? A socially reflexive woman who thrives on the opinions and reactions of others... nothing new here. Could be this guy or a dozen of others, totally irrelevant. A man who is driven around like a pig with a ring his nose by every breeze that happens his way. It is Scott Pilgrim, the every man, or teenager rather.

It's not complex issues of sex, its fear, all the way around. It is common but the appeal is one of seemingly insidious if not subconscious use of the availability heuristic. As the previous paragraph asked, is it society demanding more examples of nonsense to self justify itself, or is it media trending towards the data of the crumbling society and fueling the feel good of dubious choices made good?

The American movie line up mentioned all seem to play to these questionable and dubious themes. I could simply reference an episode of ABC's "secret life of the American teenager" and ask the questions, "where is the outrage, where is the backlash?" That perhaps is the point. Catherine explores some of the most negative aspects of the dualistic nature of people, especially women, and the most pathetic nature of man. Much like many of these movies portray and to that end, the television show demonstrates.

The question again, "Where is the outrage where is the backlash"? Where is the meaningful debate or conversation? I do not think there is one to be had really.

I suppose to sum up, is to ask the question, how is digital medium to "best" works such as "Autobiography of a flea" or the works of Marquis de Sod? When it comes to exploring the darker natures of human sexuality? Is the only question concerning sexuality in the digital mediums to be the farce of Electronic Arts self debasing it's own properties such as Mass Effect 2, to start a meaningless conflict?

Why is it that modern digital works are noted for being the heralds of the paradigm shift in western society, when many who would praise these works have no real experience in or with long term relationships or matters of responsibility? How could this be anything more than an a priori, which is nothing more than imagination land and assumptions. This is not a statement of attack, rather a question of competence.

How is there to be an objective weighing of the medium, when those doing the creating and the weighing, truly, do not know the difference.

Perhaps my own difficulty with this lies not with the subject matter, certainly as a contributing member of Hong Fire, I am well aware of this material. As a father and married man of 12 years I am no stranger to long term relationships. What troubles me is that this notion of what is social expected and frowned upon is used a "truthiness" of things, when in a more objective reality, they have no bearing on reality at all.

Has "truth" of the world in which we live been explored?

I think yes, but not through the content of the medium, rather that the medium exist at all and is praised as a triumph of "something" is far more telling of the situation in which we find ourselves in the western society today. I suppose it is to say that I am in as much of an agreement with this as perhaps I am of Dawkins and his Selfish gene... merely a zeitgest of the age, not really true, as far as truths go. That is to say, I find the thing debatable.

1. I'm not so sure that anyone behind Catherine expected it to "explore truths of the world" (lol). I'm of the opinion that most everyone on this thread, and you in particular are REALLY over-thinking this thing. Catherine was meant to entertain, the end, that is all.

2. Gaming itself is a fine medium for exploring such concepts, and will only get better for it as the "gamers" demographic continues to age. Don't discount the medium on account of the youth of many of the people targeted by it (because that will change) or the publishers hesitance to step too far away from what has made them money.

3. Sentence structure, I'd recommend checking it out. I'm no wordsmith but you border on unintelligible several times on your tread.

4. I also recommend you acquaint yourself with brevity. Succinctness is something that can really add impact to whatever point you're trying to make here. Less is more, man.

mfeff:
Why is it that modern digital works are noted for being the heralds of the paradigm shift in western society, when many who would praise these works have no real experience in or with long term relationships or matters of responsibility? How could this be anything more than an a priori, which is nothing more than imagination land and assumptions. This is not a statement of attack, rather a question of competence.

How is there to be an objective weighing of the medium, when those doing the creating and the weighing, truly, do not know the difference.

I greatly enjoyed your comment, but could you elaborate on this point, please? Specifically, what you base your premises on, and why you attribute so much importance on this in particular?

Leigh Alexander:
Leigh Alexander celebrates how Catherine moves beyond boobs to address the genuine complexity of modern relationships.

Great article!

I look forward to reading more of your articles. I've been waiting for someone to take up the topic of sexuality in games (I've been talking about the sex/violence thing being life/death - and about how the media loves murder but hates sex - for years). I can't wait to read more!

DexterNorgam:
1. I'm not so sure that anyone behind Catherine expected it to "explore truths of the world" (lol). I'm of the opinion that most everyone on this thread, and you in particular are REALLY over-thinking this thing. Catherine was meant to entertain, the end, that is all.

2. Gaming itself is a fine medium for exploring such concepts, and will only get better for it as the "gamers" demographic continues to age. Don't discount the medium on account of the youth of many of the people targeted by it (because that will change) or the publishers hesitance to step too far away from what has made them money.

3. Sentence structure, I'd recommend checking it out. I'm no wordsmith but you border on unintelligible several times on your tread.

4. I also recommend you acquaint yourself with brevity. Succinctness is something that can really add impact to whatever point you're trying to make here. Less is more, man.

1. You are absolutely right about the over-thinking of the thing. In one respect I could simple say "Everyone sees through me, why can't they see through this game?" and let that be that. If I am to justify my own position, it is to say that several conclusions in the original post seemed to struggle with cultural relativism, and perhaps a dash of perceptual bias. I am generally not one to simply "state" or "liable" without making at-the-least some attempt to support my own conclusions.

2. I think we differ on this conclusion. I find that gaming as a medium has tended (trended) to ever increasingly narrow narrative focus and through a specific aesthetic lens limits the experience that the end user will have concerning the subject matter. Where Catherine in a way made a misstep is in comparison to Persona 3. P3 the player has the option to select his (her in the PSP version) own name, and remains silent throughout the exposition. Where as in Catherine, it is Vincent, Vincent's story, and Vincent's experiences. Unless one can relate directly to Vincent, one has an ever increasing difficulty to read oneself into the narrative and relate to the character. This inability to relate to the character creates an impedance to emotionally connect the information presented to the self in any meaningful or reflective way.

I could easily write an entire paper on the tropes (linguistic and artistic) used in Catherine that lack relevance to the subject matter in any meaningful way. It is poppy, and certainly pop culture, but (to me) many of the aesthetics came off as architectural choices, rather than cinematic choices for narrative effect.

Brief example:

Why is the puzzle game in a gothic setting? (The answer is a trope use of the Marquis de Sade use of Gothic themes in phantasmagoric settings concerning sexuality). How many people know this? About 0. How many people "think" they know this, well just about everyone, it is a pop culture convention, they know it, but generally do not know "why" they know it.

It has lost significance and has become architecture, a wall paper.

Foil this with P4, Kanji and the Steamy Bath House. The audience immediately can connect with what is going on, as it is relevant to Kanji and the uneasiness of homoeroticism in the "Bath House" setting. You don't need to live in Japan to relate to this experience, and as such, it is relevant. As you said, less is more.

What gaming has been able to do, it does like nothing else, immersion. Narrative exposition in comparison with other forms of media such as the printed word or film gaming has fallen off, or has seems to have taken a rather modern approach of "selling an experience". Call it nostalgia, but there is more narrative in Zork, than in most modern games.

I will build an example with what is available to me at this very moment... let's see, "Excalibur" Blu-Ray remaster...

Very early scene, Uther bed's Igraine... amazingly powerful scene that is borderline rape. What game has captured this cinematic moment? There is a lot going on in this scene, and in a sense gives us the movie as art moment, transcending exploitation. (Mind you I can think of a couple games, but one has to dig a little).

Now examine the Battlefield 3 Caspian video. Excellent use of cinematography to draw the eye from one side of the scene to the other. Call it what you will, but that video is a study in camera work and narrative through action.

Mind you I have been playing video games since pong was new. Game technology has come a long way, but I suspect it will fail on this promise of narrative experience in the same way that the auto industry has failed with the flying car. It is not that it cannot be done, it is that it is not economically feasible to do it and perhaps the audience is not experienced enough to use it. It only works when the end user is completely stripped of choice, such as how the narrative and cinematic of gaming is trending. Stripped of choice, or presented with the illusion of choice, exposition is given through a very narrow lens.

3. Stream of consciousness, sorry about that... this would be better suited in a video format... before I am done with one sentence I am two paragraphs ahead... ditto, and agree!

4. I normally do not post on Escapist. The rare exceptions are when videos or post draw conclusions that are extremely tenuous and yet are typically mainstream in popular opinion.

This post caught my eye for a number of reasons, some good, some bad.

I appreciate your response, thanks for that!

Mfeff, you're one of those poor souls who's had entertainment blown down to their most basic pieces by tvtropes.com, aren't you? :P

I really enjoyed this article ^^

Will definitly be following this column.

MatsVS:

mfeff:
Why is it that modern digital works are noted for being the heralds of the paradigm shift in western society, when many who would praise these works have no real experience in or with long term relationships or matters of responsibility? How could this be anything more than an a priori, which is nothing more than imagination land and assumptions. This is not a statement of attack, rather a question of competence.

How is there to be an objective weighing of the medium, when those doing the creating and the weighing, truly, do not know the difference.

I greatly enjoyed your comment, but could you elaborate on this point, please? Specifically, what you base your premises on, and why you attribute so much importance on this in particular?

I think it can be taken a couple different ways, which is how I (sort of) meant it to be taken.

On the one hand:

I think that in any given period of time we find that youth (people) tend to rally around things that they can associate with themselves in some sort of meaningful way. I would love to say that technology is one of those things, however, there is a tremendous concerted effort in the publishing circles to engender and create this "gamer" culture. Personally, I do not think it exist, and if it does it is certainly nothing like a Haight-Ashbury. There is no revolution, there is only social reciprocity and all the associated logical fallacies. It is neither good nor bad, it is simply make believe to turn a buck. Generation X makes these things, generation Y... well there we go.

On the other hand:

Specifically the original post offers a continued examination of sexuality in gaming, and even more specifically how Catherine demonstrated and revealed distinct truths of the world in which we live.

I found that to be extremely debatable.

As I mentioned in a post response to DexterNorgam in this thread, Catherine utilizes a very narrow focus of experience from which to explore the narrative human drama.

Does Catherine "reveal some truth". Yes. I simply question what that truth is.

To really cut to the chase, I find that those who played Catherine (and this could be any medium or title), who managed to read themselves into the narrative on some level, are finding associations with the information (characters) to themselves. So a truth is revealed, although like any self fulfilling prophecy, that truth, being rooted in sympathetic association, reveals much about that person, as such, reveals a "personal truth".

Not to be confused with a universal truth concerning human relationships.

To come to grips with Catherine, we briefly examine the characters and see a strong woman basically raising a man child, a man child suffering from a failure to launch, and that man child engaging in a relationship with an even more childish child.

This is interesting from the standpoint that Vincent is in the middle with female conflict drawing him from one perspective to the other. However, what is really going on is a play on vertical relationships.

Catherine is in a position of power over Vincent, and Vincent is in a position of power over Katherine. Katherine reverses the trope.

The missed opportunity here was to play Katherine as a reflection of the dynamic between Vincent and Catherine, as Vincent taking on the psychological valence of Catherine, and Katherine taking on the role as a much younger Vincent.

Through this vehicle Vincent could of grown as a character and made the emotional association about his behavior as he takes on the roll of his older girlfriend when dealing with Katherine.

Well, this is not how it really goes down. Sadly I "think" this was the original idea and it just fell apart during game design.

Instead what we have is an exploration of a mid-lifer, who has not really lived much life for all practical purposes being fought over by two women who want something from him. It is a three way user relationship, and very destructive. This perspective is decidedly male, especially considering the Japanese flavor of the game. In Japan relationships typically do not "become" serious until (usually) the male has established himself financially. Vincent comes off as a NEET (not in education, employment, or training). While Vincent does have a job it is a dead end job, much like his life.

I do not want to go any further into this concept other than to come back to origin and state, that it is of my opinion that the author has read herself into the position of Catherine. As such a strong woman, career motivated, dragging men through life. I am not of the mind to say that, that alone, is enough to liable a paradigm shift in thinking that "Our values have shifted to admire the single woman - and the single mother - as figures to admire rather than to pity."

It is perhaps more true to say, much as the Marquis did, that woman do not have the freedom or the space to "BE" women, and as such, are expressing masculine traits to mask feminine uncertainty.

I think the author would like us to think that "our values have shifted", perhaps the author feels that way about herself, or has some examples of women she knows that would like to feel that way, or that it sounded good to say.

Again I think there is a video series in this concept and the ramifications of it, but one would need some life experiences and working examples to really get at it.

This is the hinge from which my argument would hang.

The third hand:

Sexuality in gaming is something that has been around for a long time. Just not in public like it has been in the past few years through the vehicle and lenses of special interest groups (real or imagined).

Has it been dealt with in a mature way? I think so, back in the day. Has it been dealt with in a mature way in recent mega-publisher media? Maybe Catherine, and I give it credit for that (kinda sorta).

Perhaps there is a difference between mature exploration of themes, and mature content? In the case of Catherine I see lots of adult situation content, stuffed with immature very teenage people, painted to look far more adult than it really is. I have a hard time finding the adult drama. Utilizing set pieces for shock value.

There is an appeal here, but not one that really addresses an older more established community. The trend here is that much of popular culture has gone this way. I do not think it is for me to say if it is good or bad, however, I will say that like anything it is subjective. Calling it a triumph simply because it meets ones personal assumption as to how "life really is" seems to me to miss the mark.

For an example, as you asked the question "and why you attribute so much importance on this in particular?":

If you want to model flying an aircraft in a game or simulation, do you work with people who are pilots and design aircraft in the working world?

Of course, unless you want to utilize anime physics, which happens, but still there is often consultation.

If in your life you are interested in pursuing a life free from divorce and nonsense, whom do you consult? Someone with no experience, a divorcee, or someone with years of marriage experience?

Typically people with no experience (your friends), then what is available thus a divorcee (your parents), finally maybe, someone with experience (good luck).

This is what I am getting at.

Prior to experience, can only be conjecture, beliefs, assumptions, opinions, hypothesis. As with anything experience counts for much, especially the "feel" of a thing. This is what make a good film director outstanding, as opposed to simply marginal or academic.

It is important especially moving forward whether or not there will be simply more cash in titillation and sexploitation in the medium, or some honest attempts to tackle some of the more pressing social issues as they relate to sexuality in society.

Vincent is presented with two choices, life is not that way, certainly his situation is fantasy land with men wishing they had his problem, and women wanting to be these women. An entertaining farce. Having of seen everything in Catherine, in the real work-a-day world... it came off, simply inexperienced. It does meet the expectation though of "how these things would go down" in the mind though... which is what I suppose it was designed to do.

Very style over substance, very surface, much like people are today. I suspect that is the target audience and hence the lack of a public backlash or outrage. Toss a pair of ta'ta's in Battlefield 3 and see what happens. That would make my point better than I could.

Does every game need to do this (or try to be serious)? Hell no.

I love Sengoku Rance, but it is not trying to be anything more than what it is. I think Artificial Academy is hysterical in a certain light.

I also thought Catherine was very "meh".

Especially coming off the Persona series it was very juvenile. (and Persona deals directly with teens, which is interesting as well) I think expounding on the merits of Catherine to be well... were talking about it, I suppose that is something, but it is also very "fantasy" primarily male centric fantasy, I am not sure it really accomplished anything anymore than Heavy Rain did.

It is a shame really.

Thanks for your post!

As I said to DexterNorgam, "People see through me all the time, how come they can't see through this game?"

Micalas:
Mfeff, you're one of those poor souls who's had entertainment blown down to their most basic pieces by tvtropes.com, aren't you? :P

Man I love that site!

Especially when people wanna talk about Mass Effect 2, and how innovative it is. Good, yes, New? ohhh no no no...

Way to call it though! ;)

mfeff:
The third hand:

Sexuality in gaming is something that has been around for a long time. Just not in public like it has been in the past few years through the vehicle and lenses of special interest groups (real or imagined).

Has it been dealt with in a mature way? I think so, back in the day. Has it been dealt with in a mature way in recent mega-publisher media? Maybe Catherine, and I give it credit for that (kinda sorta).

Perhaps there is a difference between mature exploration of themes, and mature content? In the case of Catherine I see lots of adult situation content, stuffed with immature very teenage people, painted to look far more adult than it really is. I have a hard time finding the adult drama. Utilizing set pieces for shock value.

Thanks for posts, mfeff. You've certainly given me a lot to think about.

When you say "back in the day", sexuality in gaming was dealt with in a mature way, do you have any specific examples? I'm genuinely curious.

This looks like a great article series, I'll definitely be keeping tabs on it!

It seems also to have inspired an unnaturally vigorous and thought-provoking discussion for the Escapist community, to which I would like to add my own proverbial pennies.

mfeff, I agree with you on a number of your points. I think the author was a little over-zealous in her estimation of Catherine's social impact, and the videogame's actual merit, although that may be forgiven by the structure of the article. It looks like this was intended more as an introduction to her new series, and maybe in future articles she could address what specifically makes Catherine "reflect the unspoken anxieties, and the broad social questions and truths, of the world in which we live." But without examples this kind of declaration rings hollow.

I also don't see exactly what she's getting at when she states that "right now we're obviously in the midst of re-evaluating what shapes relationships can take and what commitment ought to mean." I think that relationships have always been a nebulous thing, and if you want to continue to look at movies, you can go as far back as "Smiles of a Summer Night", (Ingmar Bergman in 1955) to see that modern values and questions of commitment have been in flux for a long time. I'm sure someone more versed in classic cinema could reach back even farther for movies that touch on the mystery of relationships.

While I do think that some of the commentary on society that the author pulls from Catherine and similar videogames is a little far-fetched, and in no way supported in the article, that doesn't mean that Catherine is quiet the mess of a game you represent it as.

First of all though, I don't think you're over-thinking things. We shouldn't be afraid to analyze the games we play, and analyze them again! Games deserve to be treated with the same artistic respect that is given to books, and to movies, even if they aren't yet up to the artistic quality of those mediums (which I sadly admit, they aren't). But we all have to start somewhere, and I for one am impatient for videogames to become a recognized artistic medium! If we do not analyze them into oblivion, who will?

But back to your post. I think that you get a little over-excited at some parts, and I lost track of quite a few of your thoughts. I got lost a little in the flood, and I think that DexterNorgam gave some good advice, succinctness can really add impact to what you're saying, and even some light editing would really help you make your point. Beyond that, I do disagree with some of the points you're making. You say that the protagonist is driven by fear, and this somehow invalidates the complex issues of sex and relationships in the game. I think that fear and insecurity is a large part of any sexual relationship, and it definitely makes for interesting game situations, so what is your problem with it?

A lot of your critiques center on subjective things that don't have anything to do with the video game, such as the people who praise Catherine having "no real experience in or with long term relationships or matters of responsibility". You end this thought by saying that this isn't a statement of attack, but it is! It is an outrageous attack on the persons of individuals that you don't even know! This isn't a judgement that anyone can make, and only serves to weaken your stance.

Your next paragraph, in which you ask "How is there to be an objective weighing of the medium, when those doing the creating and the weighing, truly, do not know the difference" is equally absurd. What's even worse is you implicate the creators of the videogame. Are you implying that no one on the Atlus Persona Team has been in a serious relationship? I'm sorry, but that makes no sense.

Another point on your use of subjective criteria: a lot of the problems you find in Catherine have no bearing on the game at all. How are you qualified to determine the "truthiness" of a game? You say "Calling it a triumph simply because it meets ones personal assumption as to how "life really is" seems to me to miss the mark." But this is equally true for people defaming the game. A paragraph earlier you said "In the case of Catherine I see lots of adult situation content, stuffed with immature very teenage people, painted to look far more adult than it really is. I have a hard time finding the adult drama. Utilizing set pieces for shock value." This is exactly the sort of thing you go on to say we shouldn't do! You're putting your own personal lens over Catherine and finding it inadequate, and saying the game is not as good as a result. It's fine to find the game sub-par, but don't decry it simply because you do not think the characters are "adult enough" for you. Provide examples!

Later you say how "Prior to experience, [there] can only be conjecture, beliefs, assumptions, opinions, hypothesis. As with anything experience counts for much, especially the "feel" of a thing. This is what make a good film director outstanding, as opposed to simply marginal or academic." This does not in any way apply to Catherine, this is more a question of the life-experiences of the people who made Catherine, and it's not something you can critique in an article!

It seems to me that you are judging Catherine very harshly for reasons that have nothing to do with the videogame. I readily admit that Catherine is a little hokey, and the nightmare stages have very little narrative congruence with the day-time story. But your critique is very lacking, in that there is no concrete critique! You end with an inane generalization about how Catherine is "Very style over substance, very surface, much like people are today.", some meaningless criticisms, about "Having seen everything in Catherine, [and] in the real work-a-day world... it came off, [as] simply inexperienced.", and this completely unsubstantiated claim: "Especially coming off the Persona series it was very juvenile".

If you want to contribute to the discussion of videogames, you can't just spout off your opinions without providing any evidence for your claims. And you definitely can't make pointless attacks on the persons of a video-game company and expect to be taken seriously.

mfeff:

Micalas:
Mfeff, you're one of those poor souls who's had entertainment blown down to their most basic pieces by tvtropes.com, aren't you? :P

Man I love that site!

Especially when people wanna talk about Mass Effect 2, and how innovative it is. Good, yes, New? ohhh no no no...

Way to call it though! ;)

I knew it! That site is a disease but I can't stop reading D:

Captcha: QUALITY ectodeli. I like it.

mfeff:

-SNIP-

If in your life you are interested in pursuing a life free from divorce and nonsense, whom do you consult? Someone with no experience, a divorcee, or someone with years of marriage experience?

-SNIP-

As I haven't played the game myself, I can't approach the parts of your post that deals with the game directly in any meaningful way (unfortunately, as it seems interesting!), but this part stood out to me. To answer your question, I would say that I would ask all three for the broadest possible perspective, which is perhaps where you feel the game has missed its mark? That it's only relevant to gamers (in this case, young gamers with little life-experience) who find some ever-so-slight reflection of themselves in either the main or auxiliary characters? If so, that is certainly a valid complaint, but one that applies to nearly all art, no?

I do apologize if I've misunderstood or if my comment seems in any way flippant, but I only browse these forums when I am at work with nothing else to do. Lengthy essays become problematic sometimes. :P

Falseprophet:

mfeff:
The third hand:

Sexuality in gaming is something that has been around for a long time. Just not in public like it has been in the past few years through the vehicle and lenses of special interest groups (real or imagined).

Has it been dealt with in a mature way? I think so, back in the day. Has it been dealt with in a mature way in recent mega-publisher media? Maybe Catherine, and I give it credit for that (kinda sorta).

Perhaps there is a difference between mature exploration of themes, and mature content? In the case of Catherine I see lots of adult situation content, stuffed with immature very teenage people, painted to look far more adult than it really is. I have a hard time finding the adult drama. Utilizing set pieces for shock value.

Thanks for posts, mfeff. You've certainly given me a lot to think about.

When you say "back in the day", sexuality in gaming was dealt with in a mature way, do you have any specific examples? I'm genuinely curious.

Of course no discussion on this would be complete without going into the eroge games of Japan. Although the maturity here would be somewhat questionable (smirks). In the west some of the more notable sexual situations are found in the Ultima game series, the Dragon Lance games of TSR, a slew of the text adventure games, and a couple hard to find early graphical games. As a central theme perhaps nonexistent (unless it is pornographic), with the impact on the genre as a whole is dubious at best. That said simply because a text adventure game is on a computer it is difficult to call it a "game", more like a novel or choose your own adventure. As I mentioned before, once "choice" is stripped away it is less game, or interactive, and more film or novel. Gaming may be headed that way with titles like LA Noir, Heavy Rain, and Catherine turning a buck. But does it do anything new is compared to the early PC CD games, heck, does it do anything more than a "choose your own adventure" book?

Once CD-ROM had really taken root on the PC side of the gaming industry, it went pretty much all porn games (in the context of sexuality). The fido-nets and bulletin boards gave way to the internet, the use of sexuality in a game as a selling point becomes akin to using a water gun to fight a war. So that went away (or did it). Now if we are to look at Dragon Age: Origins, there is sexuality, pretty surface, but is it anything beyond what Ultima or Dragon Lance was doing? No, not really. Why should it, it is likely that some of the same people that worked at TSR work for Bioware... just another day at the office.

All said and done Japan is an extremely youth obsessed culture. The (youth) culture is heavily rooted in style and appearance. That the eroge games have continued to find financial success is not really surprising, but I must insist, that Catherine is a Japanese game, not a western one. In the context of Japanese media, it is not all that new. Plenty of anime that deals with these themes as well as manga, which is just another extension of a graphic novel (anime).

Thing is, there is more adult content sitting around today (on the internet) than a person could reasonably work through in a lifetime. So why is it such a big deal to toss some into a video game?

I am not sure that there is a big deal based in reality. Now, it may be a big deal for a large company that employees thousands of people and has a stock that is traded. You, or me want to release an adult theme game, sure no problem. No one is going to stop it. There may be road blocks to putting it inside of a store. But so what?

If we sit around looking for it to become socially acceptable, we will probably be doing a lot of sitting. Again, I have to ask, so what? In context if one cannot tell you the name of the gas station attendant they purchased fuel from that morning, why give much a damn about he or she thinks in the context of your work? It certainly has not stopped IP such as "second life" from having lots of commercial success. Which (to me) is reminiscent of the old IRC chat rooms and seedy fido and Usenet's.

Heck, it could be considered a human powered graphical adventure game. Laf. A more honest facebook? Where is the protest? The public outcry? Shrug... I am thinking it is make believe.

MatsVS:

mfeff:

-SNIP-

If in your life you are interested in pursuing a life free from divorce and nonsense, whom do you consult? Someone with no experience, a divorcee, or someone with years of marriage experience?

-SNIP-

As I haven't played the game myself, I can't approach the parts of your post that deals with the game directly in any meaningful way (unfortunately, as it seems interesting!), but this part stood out to me. To answer your question, I would say that I would ask all three for the broadest possible perspective, which is perhaps where you feel the game has missed its mark? That it's only relevant to gamers (in this case, young gamers with little life-experience) who find some ever-so-slight reflection of themselves in either the main or auxiliary characters? If so, that is certainly a valid complaint, but one that applies to nearly all art, no?

I do apologize if I've misunderstood or if my comment seems in any way flippant, but I only browse these forums when I am at work with nothing else to do. Lengthy essays become problematic sometimes. :P

Not so much the game specifically, which is something I want to be sure I am clear upon. Rather this (articles) interpretation of the game as having of achieved something meritorious in the way of narrative exposition when dealing with relationships. I am critical of Catherine as I come away unsure if it is aware enough of itself. Which is a darn shame as the development team has done solid work in the past. Catherine can "be" funny, and certainly it is entertaining, but it is hardly earth moving.

I do think it has exhibited some of the in's and out's of toxic co-dependent relationships, certainly it addressed some of the anxieties I would expect a teenager or early twenties something would have. Does it go beyond this though? Not to me it didn't. Like the movie "Sucker Punch", I personally thought there was a better movie to be had, as well as Catherine had a better game in it.

Your comment is great, and I love to be challenged, also, as with anything; a personal philosophy or interpretation, no matter who puts it forth, is subject to errors and other interpretations. Sometimes I say things just to see if people are paying attention! ;)

If anything I want to challenge the notion that Catherine is "special", I want to ask if Catherine is even much of a game, and if it is, what is it that makes it competitive or superior to other media when dealing with this subject matter.

A couple questions of my own: If Catherine wants to use Gothic motifs, how does it stand up against 18th century literature that founded Gothic motifs. How does Catherine stack up against other erotica, how does it stack up against movies and books or other animations? Is it fair to compare it to these mediums. Where is it weak, where is it strong? Due to most of the exposition being given to the player as animated film, is it subject to a film critique? If not, why not?

Further still and more to do with this article, "has" society shifted perspective when it comes to single parents? What about this game is saying that? What are the reasons to believe this is advantageous?

If I am a member of society, and I am not saying these things, then it is debatable. That's all.

Personally, I strongly disagree with the conclusions of this article. In light of that I find myself at liberty to question how these conclusions where derived and under what conditions.

I don't want to confuse the issues any more than they already are. I like the use of sex and adult content in video games. I do not think there is enough now, and personally what is available looks to have been made with dubious intentions.

That is a darn shame.

As it goes there is what has been done and what is being done, such as God of War and some sex "stuff". It's juvenile and I don't take it seriously, now we have Catherine, and it seems to want to be taken seriously, but if it does not take itself with a grain of salt, it comes off as pretentious. So it is middle of the road, on a scale of 1-100, I think we are in and around a 50.

I am not sure it will ever really get past a 60 or 70, and certainly do not think that the Japanese games transcribe well into western culture as a barometer of western society.

KidGalaxy:
This looks like a great article series, I'll definitely be keeping tabs on it!

It seems also to have inspired an unnaturally vigorous and thought-provoking discussion for the Escapist community, to which I would like to add my own proverbial pennies.

-snippidy snip-

You make some good points here, especially considering social anxieties. This is key in what I would want to discuss. In that is social anxiety something that is able to be overcome? Is it real? Are people making it real today? I think yes, no, and yes. There were quite a few movies referenced where these are central themes, arguably not in a good way.

KidGalaxy:

I also don't see exactly what she's getting at when she states that "right now we're obviously in the midst of re-evaluating what shapes relationships can take and what commitment ought to mean." I think that relationships have always been a nebulous thing, and if you want to continue to look at movies, you can go as far back as "Smiles of a Summer Night", (Ingmar Bergman in 1955) to see that modern values and questions of commitment have been in flux for a long time. I'm sure someone more versed in classic cinema could reach back even farther for movies that touch on the mystery of relationships.

Amazing reference!

I wanted to go with "Blue Valentine" as my example of adult relationships that I find interesting and socially relevant in film media.

KidGalaxy:

While I do think that some of the commentary on society that the author pulls from Catherine and similar videogames is a little far-fetched, and in no way supported in the article, that doesn't mean that Catherine is quiet the mess of a game you represent it as.

The game is not all bad, it is just not the serious piece that I think it is being taken as, at least in this article. I am apologetic that it comes off that I was attacking the game. For what it is and in a certain light, I found it funny, just not particularly deep. I did conflagrate a couple different points here, and lost clarity. Would it fit better if I said, "It's a good rent, but I wouldn't pay 60 bucks for it". and even more honestly, "I found myself a little bummed that Atlus went with Catherine and not another Persona game. Still Atlus felt the need to link the two somewhat contextually."

KidGalaxy:
You say that the protagonist is driven by fear, and this somehow invalidates the complex issues of sex and relationships in the game. I think that fear and insecurity is a large part of any sexual relationship, and it definitely makes for interesting game situations, so what is your problem with it?

Good question!

It does not invalidate the issues at all, although I find that it was an over shadowing theme that did more harm than good when running through the story. Fear is fine, fear is good in many respects, for those who run around life in a fog hitting a little fear brings em back down to earth. Vincent is terrified, and experiencing some pretty intense psychological pathology. This is horror and terror not really a healthy fear. Very "Hell Raiser" motif here, and beyond shock, does it work? Or is it so shocking, that it is just stupid? If it is stupid but playing an over-the-top anime horror straight, then maybe it is funny in a morbid way. As an insight, I found it to border on Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. I would suggest as a result of having of dealt so little with issues in his life, he is completely incapable of dealing with his new drama. The Abyss of Psychology are very reoccurring themes with Atlus Persona. Fun fact, some of the team members are into Magick. No surprise there.

KidGalaxy:
You end this thought by saying that this isn't a statement of attack, but it is! It is an outrageous attack on the persons of individuals that you don't even know! This isn't a judgement that anyone can make, and only serves to weaken your stance.

I agree, so it comes off as a guess, am I right? Who knows?

Though as you said, it is entirely subjective and an attack. Not going to pretend it is not. So let me clarify the target. Since when did the values of society become the values that determine what "ought to be commitment, behavioral norms in society, so on and so forth". How is that even quantified? Why is there so much anxiety with this at all? Is this how people feel today? Do they have social anxiety or make purchases on what others may think or feel, or engage or disengage in relations based on how others may interpret that relationship?

KidGalaxy:

Your next paragraph, in which you ask "How is there to be an objective weighing of the medium, when those doing the creating and the weighing, truly, do not know the difference" is equally absurd. What's even worse is you implicate the creators of the videogame. Are you implying that no one on the Atlus Persona Team has been in a serious relationship? I'm sorry, but that makes no sense.

Hardly. Though to effectively judge the merit of the content of the title for it's ramifications on western society does require some insight. Atlus sat on the fence as to whether or not they were even going to pursue releasing Catherine in the west. There are many reasons for this, all of them very good reasons for them to have had.

I am critical of the correlation as to single parents and how Catherine is making a statement on that. Is it? Does the author know many single woman, how about single teenagers, how about single teenagers on welfare? This is why I mentioned Secret Life of an American Teenager, which has certainly entertained more than 80,000 people. I am asking is it true? Is this article true? What is required to determine that truth? Does it matter?

Going forward who makes these calls if video game entertainment is intending on tackling real world drama how are these things to be measured, or weighed? You seem like a good candidate, but was the author? Am I?

KidGalaxy:

It's fine to find the game sub-par, but don't decry it simply because you do not think the characters are "adult enough" for you. Provide examples!

Again, I do not mind the game fore say, I mind that it is made out to be much more than what it is (in this article). I want to know why it is "good", other than it is novel. It is not that novel to me. So that is subjective. Are there more Catherines out there to be made? Some new frontier in gaming? Past this one does anyone care? What about Heavy Rain, and L.A. Noir?

KidGalaxy:

If you want to contribute to the discussion of videogames, you can't just spout off your opinions without providing any evidence for your claims. And you definitely can't make pointless attacks on the persons of a video-game company and expect to be taken seriously.

I don't think I need to hit any particular metric when it comes to spouting off an opinion about video games, with or without claims. So long as I stay within the general guidelines of the EULA of the Escapist forums. I may say whatever I like. Chalk it up to the Democracy of the internet. The beauty of that system is so may you, and anyone else.

I like Atlus, I have enjoyed most of there games for many years now. Catherine is "ok", but I am at a loss as to how it is being made into anything more than it is. I thought considering the limitations of the PS2 that Persona was simply better put together. I think Catherine is a one off, an experiment in a western market to see if a fairly cheaply produced titles will make a buck.

Like yourself I am looking for the medium to jump to lightspeed. Yes, I am frustrated that it has in many respects set the bar so low it had been tripped over it, and sadly at this point with this thread I feel like a cat kicking sand.

Where I think we got off on the wrong foot a little here is that you seem to think I am talking about Atlus, and I am not. I am implying reference to the author of this article, and to reviewers of this game.

Loosely I am insinuating that without experience (in x) it is difficult to be empirical about (x). Sorry about not being more clear about that. Your not the only one who brought this up with me and for good reason.

This was a tie in to the use of the availability heuristic in the article and how I found it to be a bias. That Catherine portrays a situation, that movies also portray, than it must be true in the culture. (Likely False) I also said that it was socially reflexive, thus the social anxiety and I took issue with that as being the modus operandi of majority of relationships (Likely False). Catherine does not represent any truth (to me) other than the truth of what not to do. What else is there?

Does Catherine deliver on adult situation drama? Is this as good as it gets? Will it make it a couple more units (titles) before it dries up?

The hot button here with me is not the games, I could care less about that. It is the social commentary. As you yourself said, the article makes some claims, really didn't deliver, I made some claims as well, (I didn't deliver) and questions came up. Now I have witnessed plenty of meltdowns, infidelity, single parent situations, and seen just how negative, negative can be. How does this game, movies suggested, or this article get past or even address these realities? There is no doubt in my mind that people at Atlus have experience with these things, but that experience does not come through with this title. I think there are reasons for that, most of which are that this game was never meant to be taken very seriously.

If I was not on to "at least something" no one would of bothered to comment on my post... they would of just blown me off. Sorry I am not as good a writer as one deserves. I'll work on it. Maybe. ;)

On the subject of tv tropes... meh.

I'm not sure what all the fuss is about. We all know there aren't any more new ideas in entertainment really, just seems like a bunch of people pointing out the obvious to me.

Having seen most of it, I think it is a struggle of a weak man dealing with his own conflicted impulses. It is not about real relationships, but the male psychological reaction to real relationships, and it isn't bad.

Very good article.

In general though, "story-driven" sex games are... well beating around the bush, so to speak.

They exist for a specific reason, and that's not really gameplay or story.

Anyway, I'm glad Catherine it's a bit more "mature" in the sense you used, because we don't really need sex scenes in games, where the "game" is the focus.

Fearzone:
Having seen most of it, I think it is a struggle of a weak man dealing with his own conflicted impulses. It is not about real relationships, but the male psychological reaction to real relationships, and it isn't bad.

Me and some mates were on this topic the other day and they said the same thing. Compared to a game like Artificial Academy, there is really no "relationship" simulation in Catherine. The setup for all practical purposes is a play on the Persona 4 T.V. world. I think of Catherine as a fan disc similar to how "FES for Answer Persona 3" is for Persona 3.

Also, like most of the H games, it is entirely male centric, male decision oriented, the females are at the mercy of the protagonist. There is no relationship, no cause and effect, simply a choose your own adventure/fantasy girl without the negative consequences. No matter what you choose in Catherine, it all works out (more or less), real world... hahahaha if only! Heck in the Artificial Academy, your girl/boy/lover may go screw around if they catch your character screwing around.

The key here, is that in Japan there is this sort of undercurrent that you can screw around as long as you "don't fall in love". The love aspect is the taboo. This game plays on that A LOT!

The author of this article picked up on it, and tried to turn it into something else... which is funny... really funny. Feminism... lol... no afraid not. Go read some "Bell Hooks" for that.

DexterNorgam:
On the subject of tv tropes... meh.

I'm not sure what all the fuss is about. We all know there aren't any more new ideas in entertainment really, just seems like a bunch of people pointing out the obvious to me.

The funnest part about Catherine is "IT IS" a trope played straight! That is the best part about it for the fans of the series. If we take Vincent and toss him into the T.V. World of Persona 4, establish a new Deamon as the cause of this, and his interaction with the succubus to be like that of Teddy in P4, the entire game is a trope of Persona 4. Instead of the glasses, he has "beer goggles", instead of his friends helping him out, he gets ill informed advice. Go with the milf you get "its just a dream", go with the succubus the dream world is real. What this is doing is playing off the perspective of the poor slobs who got caught in the TV world of P4 before (or even after) the events of the game. We also know this because of the changes in the handheld versions of the Persona game.

The only big differences between the SMT:(devil survivor/summoner) games and Persona, is how literal they take the demons. SMT they tend to be real or Kami/Yokai, in Persona, more like Jungian Archtypes, except for the big bad or the occasional character such as Teddy.

In Persona 3 as an example, whenever someone enters the Tartarus world they become the shadows, when they come back to the "real world" they are still shadows. In Persona 4, we can assume (in cannon) that Teddy is originally a Demon, as it takes on human form in the real world. Catherine plays on this with the succubus, so we can assume this fantasy character, is real in game cannon and is literal. Likewise Nyx in Persona 3, but Thanatos/Death is a Jungian Archetype of the main character. Of course, integrated in his psychology (mature) once one forms Orphos-Telos.

Because we must assume that (as the audience) the demon in charge is really in charge, the stick is that Vincent is trapped in the TV world because he won't face his fears in any real or meaningful way. Without the demon forcing the issue, it is likely he would of never faced it. That is the point of the T.V. world, its very Cake or Death. Just like all the characters in Persona 4 whom enter the TV world. Vincent is a puppet, and has no free will, like a sheep. The joke here is that people would assume they "knew" the sheep device, but really, his fate is sealed and pre-determined. Thus like his reactions are all "after the fact".

The BIG difference being is that he has to figure it out/muddle it out for himself without the power of Persona, which again is a play on the Survival Horror game, Drink Booze and RUN! Total opposite of the Persona games which face down fears and integrate psychology.

This is not about making choices in a complex way, it is about saving himself from the puzzle box, ala, Hell Raiser or P3 Tartarus, or P4 Tv World. He is LITERALLY trapped in an alternate universe held their by his own defense mechanisms.

(the only exception being innocents trapped in the T.V. world/tatarus tend to survive longer without being corrupted as the demons tend to not notice them as much.)

What I wanted to do was strip away the fantasy and occult elements of Catherine and see if it held up to what this author was saying. Only if one generalizes and morphs it, does it even begin to work, but as Kid was saying, we stop talking about the game. I couldn't agree more. What I REALLY wanted to see if anyone would bring up any of the damn tropes or reference any of the other games from the series that Catherine is built on.

(Everything I brought up in my conversations reference elements of P3/P4 by the way, such as the "Gas Station Attendant", that is a P4 reference for the big bad.) I wanted to see if anyone would get it... or again, was paying attention. It is my trope! :(

Here is something to mill over, does Catherine work if we Gender reverse all the characters in the game? That is a a common trick to determine if something has feminist values at play. In one way, I think it makes the game a hell'uva' lot more realistic! Laf!

-as an edit-------

If we take Vincent's predicament in the "midnight channel" at face value, ie. he looses to the demon he looses his soul, and to escape he has to get married, what we have is a pretty intricate "bachelor party", complete with novelty handcuffs.

To make the authors case, we must acknowledge that Japan is an EXTREMELY conformist society, and as such if we are to take Catherine as a Critique on Japanese society, he either conforms to the demon world, or to the real world. Unlike the protagonist of Persona, he does not have a choice in this matter.

So the joke becomes, like a bachelor party joke, Damned if you Do Damned if you don't... its like a funeral parlor. This has been a long running theme with married guys since... as long as I can remember. "We all end up here eventually".

The woman in Catherine are barely anything more than narrative plot devices to drive the story and are pretty inconsequential to "what is going on".

I would put money on it that the guys and girls where sitting around the bar one night, talking about marriage, and boom, you had this game as a play on the midnight channel with a side order of social commentary about conformity.

My question is, where was this article when we were slogging through Midgard with Cloud Strife? He didn't want to conform or be a soldier... in fact, this theme is pretty common in Japanese popular culture.

It is just my opinion, but Catherine is to SMT/Persona as Space Balls is to Star Wars... a comedic pun. I have a hard time seeing the feminist paradigm if I don't get all post modern and existential on the thing...

 Pages 1 2 NEXT

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Register for a free account here