Jimquisition: Think of the Children!

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Dear Jim, quit hating on Heavy Rain. I know you don't like it, but really, the kid was *not the point.* The mystery was the point. It didn't have to be a kid; it could have been any family member or close friend, because the point was the relationship between the man and the (associated person). We didn't *need* to know who Jason was as a character and a real human being. He could have been anyone. (Also, he *did* have a personality. He was a depressed kid who didn't like staying with his dad, and was clearly just ambling through life doing nothing because his brother just *died* and his parents just *divorced.*)

Heavy Rain was a very classic whodunit. The victim doesn't matter; in lots of whodunits, the victim is introduced for a few minutes or just isn't even there, already dead at the start. The point is everyone else, not the actual dead/missing/whatever person.

Anyway, back to kids. I think that one reason kid characters fail is that they either end up being adults in kids' bodies (thus, why are they even kids, it's like the authors are overcompensating for typical kid annoying traits), or they're kids in adults' bodies (see: most stereotypical teenage characters).

Falseprophet:

RJ 17:

Falseprophet:
My favourite child character in a genre film? Newt from Aliens. Yeah, she was definitely a scared little girl, but she showed the survival instinct that allowed her to survive for weeks on a xenomorph-infested complex [snip].

One of my favorite lines from that movie:
Ripely: "This little girl survived all on her own for a week without any military training at all!"
Hudson: "Well fuckin' put her in charge!"

Did Hudson have a single line in that movie that wasn't solid gold?

"Game over, man! Game over!"

"I don't know if you've been keeping up with current events, but we just GOT OUR ASSES KICKED!"
"We're in some real pretty shit now man!"
"Yeah! Good idea, Bishop should do it!

SonOfVoorhees:

Irridium:
Then Fallout 3's Little Lamplight happened.

Now every time I see a child in game I view it with suspicion and contempt. Either they'll use their perk as children to bitch you out knowing you aren't able to do anything back, or they'll be a cheap pull at a heart-string.

So much this. I really wanted to slap them to show them a bit of respect, mouthy little fuckers. So annoying and when you do shoot them, i feel that im entitled to and they do deserve it, no damage done. But they can shoot you and you have to leave....or be killed by the brats. I so wished i could lead a Deathclaw to their little hide out.

You're sounding like a complete sociopath. Either that, or a 12 year old trying to be cool and edgy.

If you honestly believe the Little Lamplight kids deserve to be brutally murdered for throwing a couple childish insults at you, you've got issues. No, you are not entitled to shoot them, and they definitely don't deserve to be shot. Any well-adjusted adult should be able to brush off being called a poopyface without going into a murderous rage.

Got to the part about "Clementine" and just couldn't continue.
Sorry Sterling, but children aren't little adults. They are children.

Kids are irrational. Kids will drag their feet when there's "more important shit" happening. Kids don't really understand adult problems and can make a fuss when they don't get their way. Kids can be a burden.

If anything Clementine would be an exception as most kids would be zombie food.
As per the wiki description of her character - keep in mind she is 8 years old (grade 3 or 4):
"Clementine displays remarkable intelligence and maturity"
"She also picks up on subtle things most children her age would not be bothered by."

And yes, being a parent does help you understand nightmare scenarios like Heavy Rain.

But I didn't watch the whole video today, because it came off as the ramblings of someone with no idea what the fuck he's talking about. Unless you uncharacteristically admit you were talking out your ass at the end of the video, I'll leave it at that.

For Jim's next viedo: he should look at the trend of crowd funding for video games, using Kickstarter. It is becoming quite the thing, and it'll be interesting to see how publishers react or if it barely makes a dent at all. On one had at least we'll see some otherwise unpublishable game ideas gather force, or at the very least a documented spectacular failure, I suppose (as Tim would say).

It looks to be amazing, I hope it really does at least give some kind of authorship credibility to these people. Thus allowing us to appreciate authors and designers of the games and the touches they put forth, rather than the stream of output titles from the publishers.

I have to agree that children are an issue in writing in general, and your correct about that. I agree that it's one of those horrible crutches that isn't even used properly.

That said, on a related note I tend to think that it's also linked into the even more overused and annoying "love as the solution" trope. The idea that a character overcomes what should amount to a no win scenario due to their sheer love for a wife, girlfriend, child, etc... something that is used because we can all presumably associate ourselves with that. The problem here of course being that if it was that easy, there never would have been a problem to begin with. Some guy say resisting "Cyberman" conversion from Doctor Who because of a father's love for his son is kind of ridiculous, as it implies that in all of the worlds these guys pretty much devestated and converted nobody ever loved their kids as they were being slaughtered and converted.

Emotion and human connection have their places in fiction of course, and are part of the entire human experience, but really shouldn't be used as much as they are in fiction. I think the problem being expressed with children in the media here, can be further extended into this bigger issue of "loved one in distress". I think it's something that works as part of a story, but not so much as a driving character motivation for an entire story which it's typically used for.

Bat Vader:
Clementine from The Walking Dead and Nanako from Persona 4 are the only two child characters in games that I actually care about and feel sympathy for them.

Ah, I knew someone would mention Nanako eventually. I was going to mention her in my post, but was so sure someone else had already. I wonder if there's a way to make a child character lovable without making them self-reliant?

sageoftruth:

Bat Vader:
Clementine from The Walking Dead and Nanako from Persona 4 are the only two child characters in games that I actually care about and feel sympathy for them.

Ah, I knew someone would mention Nanako eventually. I was going to mention her in my post, but was so sure someone else had already. I wonder if there's a way to make a child character lovable without making them self-reliant?

I think there are pry a few writers who could do that but they would have to be really good and really careful with how they write and develop the character.

s69-5:
Got to the part about "Clementine" and just couldn't continue.
Sorry Sterling, but children aren't little adults. They are children.

Kids are irrational. Kids will drag their feet when there's "more important shit" happening. Kids don't really understand adult problems and can make a fuss when they don't get their way. Kids can be a burden.

If anything Clementine would be an exception as most kids would be zombie food.
As per the wiki description of her character - keep in mind she is 8 years old (grade 3 or 4):
"Clementine displays remarkable intelligence and maturity"
"She also picks up on subtle things most children her age would not be bothered by."

And yes, being a parent does help you understand nightmare scenarios like Heavy Rain.

But I didn't watch the whole video today, because it came off as the ramblings of someone with no idea what the fuck he's talking about. Unless you uncharacteristically admit you were talking out your ass at the end of the video, I'll leave it at that.

That's a pretty good point. Child characters seem to be complicated. As you mentioned, they really can be a burden, which makes them something you either love or hate. You sound like you're familiar with parenthood, so I'll trust you when you say that parents can empathize with a child character without much prodding from the writers.

I guess the real cardinal sin in the usage of realistically burdensome child characters is to use them in media that's marketed towards a crowd that normally doesn't feel love or protectiveness towards children. If Spike TV released an action flick with such a character, I'm pretty sure a majority of the viewers would be collectively rooting for the monster/antagonist whenever the child was in danger.

Shiro No Uma:

Your point at 3:54 is very troubling and you should have that looked at. Saying "Children are just basically shitty adults," is messed up. CHILDREN ARE NOT JUST SMALL ADULTS. (That's psych 101.) Treating or thinking of them as such is not just unfair to any child, or adult, but perverse. Your outlook on them is not very healthy and admittedly might be skewing your views. I hear that you are aggravation at Carol in Walking Dead, but I completely disagree with your view of him.

I'm glad someone has already brought this up, I agree completely. I liked the first part of the video and I think this is a problem with too many writers either lazily using children as plot devices or seeing them as attachments of their parents / guardians rather than a character in their own right. Once the video got onto the characterisation part about children however... ugh.

Yes I don't like annoying characters any more than the next guy but children by their nature are annoying, it's their other traits (happiness, energy, innocence etc) which make up for them being annoying sometimes. As someone who works with children and has written a number of child characters in the past, I'd say the perfect child character is one who can be realistically pathetic and dependent as a real child would but still be endearing to the reader. Jim sums it up when he describes children as "shitty adults", he doesn't like or understand children and so prefers child characters who are miniature adults. I haven't had a chance to play Walking Dead yet since my Xbox 360 has broken down but eventually I will play the game and see for myself whether Clementine is as well written as he says.

There are many great examples of great children characters. This vids heading reminded me of The Simpsons, some of the best well written children characters came from there.

I completely agree though. Usually, when I see children in games, I first predict that I'm going to have to save them, or get ready for annoying escort quest.

The common problem when writing children is if your going to make them realistic in a sense, you still have to find a way to make them entertaining and not just based on experience.

Have been reading "Cradle of Monsters":

Well Dawn wasnt that bad in buffy in the end, tohugh the first season shes in shes a bitch and i hated her, but in the wlaking dead series i felt like killing somone whenever the boy was on screen. well they at least got rid of one of the children there.
a show that did children well was Millenium, altrough not much of them there.

soh45400:

True. What about thinking what they were like as children?
That is an easy way of writing a child character. Just think, if I was a child and was put in that situation what would I do? and write that.
Whenever someone whines about children, they should be reminded that were children themselves once.

I still have the mind (or at least, the maturity) of a child, so I just ask "what would I do in this situation if I was four feet tall?"

>.>

But yeah, even if you've never observed or been around children as an adult, you were one. You ostensibly had friends and classmates to draw on.

Strazdas:
Well Dawn wasnt that bad in buffy in the end, tohugh the first season shes in shes a bitch and i hated her

Dawn pretty much stayed the same. At best, she became slightly less annoying in the last season. Even then, she was written like a cardboard 12 year old and MAYBE upgraded to cardboard 14 year old.

You know why the kid in Walking Dead is better?

Because The Walking Dead isn't so much a game as it is a viz novel. No really. It's a viz novel.

Legion:
Like the child in Mass Effect 3

What pissed me off even more with that was how ridiculously heavy handed they were with it. They even go so far as to make Shepard have nightmares over the kid. This one kid, amongst millions of deaths, including ones that were a direct result of Shepard's actions? It's just idiotic.

The kid was a representation of the millions of deaths on earth. Not just that one stupid boy in the vent. What irritated me was that it was a little boy they used to represent those people and that we had to see him die so Shepard could get "determined", like the past two games and the intro itself would not be enough to get him a little invested in stopping the reapers.

An interesting contrast is how children are handled in World of Warcraft. Most of the time they are little more than window dressing to give the impression of a living world.

The one time they are used extensively is during Children's Week and there many of the achievements for that are just plan messed up in the head. School of Hard Knocks for example has you take your orphan into a battleground (ie war zone)--what's this supposed to do? Given them nightmares for the next couple of years?

Even when World of Warcraft had escort missions involving the dreaded brain damaged seemingly suicidal idiot it did NOT involve a child--not that it made the mission any less annoying.

But even World of Warcraft can't avoid that old cliche of character is messed up in the head because their family died in some tragedy ala Punisher.

Why is it that much of the time when children are not being used as annoying plot device bordering on future Darwin Award winner or motivator for main character to be borderline suicidal maniac/idiot they are at best window dressing?

Vote:
Sterling
Dafoe
2012

Or else probably babies will explode or something. Is that what you want?!

Haha, my roommate came in mid-video & thought Jim was lambasting the Pro-Lifers.

Walking Dead is on my Xmas list. The spoilers didn't really spoil anything.

"Hunter x Hunter" & "Black Butler" have exquisite child characters.

What about the children in Game of Thrones?

See also Sam from Gone Home. As an example of a character who is terribly written and fucking annoying, I mean.

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