Characterization of the Dead

Characterization of the Dead

How videogames can tell us more about the dead than the living.

Read Full Article

Glad you finally got this up. I can understand how this works: it's less about how the audience perceives the characters and more how the characters perceive each other.

Class article. You're totally right how characters absent from the game can have a huge impact on world building. One example I recall is the Meeches from Oddworld Abe's Odyssey. They don't feature as enemies and it's never revealed what they looked like but I still recall their name and the name of the food they were hunted to extinction to make. (meech munchies if you're interested). The animals of Oddworld are all distinctive so the absence of a species really peaked my curiosity as to what it would've looked and acted like while alive, While also driving home how callous the villains for driving hypothetically awesome animal to extinction. It also helped make their agenda unsympathetic as it was something other than preserve every single animal in Oddworld so that any game set here can feature as many of them as possible. :)

Even though you almost always ended up meeting the characters on at least one occasion, I always thought the Myst series did a good job with this. Most of what you learn from the characters, world, and sometimes even storyline you learn from journals or environmental details, and it does a great job of making you feel as though everything is simply coming out of the place you're exploring rather than being handed to you. Uru even managed to do with on the level of an entire fallen civilization with surprisingly affecting results.

Also, big points for the Dear Esther support and the Metroid shout-out.

I came for the picture of the Comedian and stayed for the insight. Quite an interesting read over something I commonly look over.

I think perhaps one of the greatest and largest application of this idea is Darksouls. In a large scale sense the entire world of darksouls has long since died and it is instead describe slowly by it's ruins and the hollow it left behind. On a smaller scale an immense portion of the "cast" are only characterized in "flashback" form by following the world and by reading the items. Take ash lake for example, a small zone in the world giving characterization vaguely by barely two lines in the intro to the game. Yet as you walk upon the literally remains on the ancient ancient world and it's dragon inhabitants you can piece together the story.

It's actually this very idea you've written about that has me so scared for the release of Darksouls 2, I'm afraid that the world will be too alive under the guidance of a new head Dev. When the strength of darksouls relies so much on a postmortem motif in it's every aspect.

Bealzibob:
I think perhaps one of the greatest and largest application of this idea is Darksouls. In a large scale sense the entire world of darksouls has long since died and it is instead describe slowly by it's ruins and the hollow it left behind. On a smaller scale an immense portion of the "cast" are only characterized in "flashback" form by following the world and by reading the items. Take ash lake for example, a small zone in the world giving characterization vaguely by barely two lines in the intro to the game. Yet as you walk upon the literally remains on the ancient ancient world and it's dragon inhabitants you can piece together the story.

It's actually this very idea you've written about that has me so scared for the release of Darksouls 2, I'm afraid that the world will be too alive under the guidance of a new head Dev. When the strength of darksouls relies so much on a postmortem motif in it's every aspect.

That's absolutely a great example, especially considering that you even learn about other players by watching them die.

I still don't really see how this kind of characterization is tailor made for games per se. Sure, there are some great examples of its use in games, but the same is true for novels, films and any kind of media really.

Interesting article. Also good to run into someone else who appreciates "House Of Leaves". A book that I think deserves a bit more attention from collective geekdom than it seems to get. :)

Wow, what a great article, Suriel. It was well written, the examples and contrasts were appropriate, the content relevant, but most of all it was interesting!
You've gotta do a monthly column

 

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