Fantastic art to go with this article.
Methinks I should've finished my coffee before I commented...
I gotta disagree with the whole "No one wants to experience the inner emotional life of a videogame character". I mean that kind of content results in the characters being more three dimensional and deeper. You care about them more. You relate to them more. In fact I think that is completely wrong. Character development is probably one of the most important things in creating an immerssive environment and a gripping story line. And saying that no one wants that is just ludicrous. And seeing Tony Vercetti Die like Al Pacino in Scarface would be freakin' awesome. The death scene in scarface remains one of the coolest moments in film history. Seeing Tommy experiance that would be incredible.
You're just too clueless on the subject to be saying "what we, the gamers, want".
Just senseless violence for the sake of it has almost never been appealing. Moral choices, complex characters and immersion is so much more interesting whenever they appear. Superficial junk like Gears of War and Dead Space are only lauded by the criminally stupid.
Did you forget about the Tenpenny Tower quest in Fallout 3? SPOILER: It's just like your man in the rain example. You do the seemingly Good thing by helping the Ghouls live in "harmony" with the residents, but ultimately the ghouls murder everyone else in the tower.
WHAT?!? Those ghouls....I vouched for them. I'm going back to Tenpenny and just taking them all out. I'm so disillusioned.
Was I like the ONLY one who saved the Little Sisters? I also liked the happy ending of Bioshock too. Guess beneath all the Plasmids and upgraded weaponry I'm a softy at heart.
I can see where he is getting at, but I heartily disagree 100%.
Now don't get me wrong, I like playing my fair share of shallow, black-and-white games. Sometimes all I want to do is cut some demented monsters in half with a chainsaw. Sometimes I want to play as the knight in shining armor in an RPG. But sometimes, I want something with a lot more depth, more shades of gray, and more realistic/meaningful themes relevant to our own world. The problem is that TOO many games focus on shallow, black-and-white themes and so few focus on real depth.
Even all these "moral choices" games like Jade Empire and Mass Effect are very flawed in this regard. I like the ability to choose, but I hate how it is painfully black and white. You are either the devout zealot of Christ, or Satan's baby-eating brother. SOMETIMES you get to take a neutral ground. Really, I don't like how simplistic this system is. I want more RPGs that have shades of gray, like The Witcher. And even when you are the "bad guy" in these games, you aren't so much bad as you are a thug that treats your party like shit and kicks puppies to make little girls cry. I never get the feeling that I am a villain, merely a jerkwad wanker of a jock.
I think it is, frankly, rather arrogant to say "no one wants to experience the inner emotional life of a videogame character; no one wants to see Tommy Vercetti die like Al Pacino in Scarface; and certainly no one wants to play a videogame about someone's descent into heroin addiction" like you are the only gamer in the world and speak for all of us. This is the sort of depth that I feel is missing in the industry. The feel good, black and white games the author talks about are fine, but this is almost ALL we see in the game industry. If movies, novels, and TV shows can explore deep, meaningful, and mature content, why can't games? Is it because games are just simply for fun, that games shouldn't be allowed to make us think? If we keep to that logic then games truly will never get any respect, because then they will always just be an escapist fantasy for kids, teenagers, and kids at heart.
Games that explore the inner emotional life of a character are also great. They make the character seem more real, and bring more emotional depth. Once again, movies, novels, and TV shows do it to great effect...Why is it so strange to assume that gamers wouldn't want to see that depth and that we are all only interested in saving a shallow, generic princess, no questions asked?
And what is this about "no one wants to play a history book?" Again, I think that is a pretty arrogant thing to say. I'd love to see more games set in historic time periods that aren't WWII. I want to see more games set during, say, the Crusades, or more obscure modern wars like the Sierra Leone Civil War or something. The great part about historic games is that you have the perfect opportunity to educate AND entertain. Maybe someone plays a game about the Arab-Israeli conflicts and decides they are eager to learn more, so they start getting books and doing research on the subject. It is a very relevant issue in our time, and a game that can raise awareness of it while still being FUN at the same time is an excellent idea and contains tons of untapped potential.
As I have said, there is nothing wrong with the type of black and white games he talks about. They are fun, even if you don't get any higher intellectual meaning from it. But, we can't do this all the time. You can't just be the knight saving the princess over and over again and not eventually get bored and crave something deeper. Now I'm not saying that ALL games need to be deep and cover meaningful themes, merely that we need MORE games that aren't black and white, good vs evil fantasy escapism.
I enjoyed this article. Gaming worlds are so much easier to do the right thing in, black and white are so much more clearly marked out.
Though I would have liked to see Tommy Vercetti die in a Scarface-esque fashion really.
well the reason that its so much easier to do the right thing in a video game is because the same worries dont apply as in real life for instance in fallout 3 you come across a part where a bunch of people are being attacked by about 20 or so super mutants and you can either dive into the action as a hero and completely lay waste to the super mutants or you can just walk around the massive battle hopeing you dont get pegged by a stray bullet. Now in the game i obviously jumped in and helped partly because of my morales but mostly because of my lust for experience but if it where real life you probably woulden't just jump up and run into the mutants because realisticaly you would probly get shot and die within moments and afterwards be cooked and eaten.
Like many things in life you can't really take one extreme or the other, some degree of middle ground has to be made.
I like the idea that a game might ask you to make a few choices only to have those choices potentially bite you in the ass.
I imagine a scenario wherein I recruit a party member claiming to be framed for *crime*, assist him in clearing his good name only to discover later that he was guilty as sin the whole time.
I would love to play a sandbox crime game wherein my choice in how I completed certain missions effected the activity in my city.
Refuse to run drugs on my turf? See an increase in housing quality but earn the ire of the drug runners.
Decide to run an "escort service"? See an increase in johns/targets on my turf and turn a tidy profit on the side but run the risk of heightened police activity in my back yard.
Running an illegal street racing circuit? Better class of cars on the road but conditions on the street become more dangerous to navigate.
But that's not to say I always want to deal with that nonsense. Sometimes I just want to play the role of Beefy McStabbypants who's hardest choice in life is which phallic future gun he's going to use to penetrate his mutant/alien enemies with his molten lead seed.
And sometimes I just want to turn my brain off completely and play Katamari Damacy.
The point is, that if the style and mood of the game calls for it, and if the developers know how to use it properly having to make moral choices in a game can be fun.
Otherwise it comes off as a tacky and poorly defined gimmick that becomes more of an annoyance than anything else.
I can't tell if Endo is seriously arguing his point or if he's doing it all tongue-in-cheek, winking at the reader along the way.
I seriously can't tell.
I have to say I found your reasoning on meeting the guy in New York seems odd to me. You didn't know where the blood came from or whether it was his and the fact that it was on his fists implied he had been in a fight. Then to let him into your apartment when you said there were young families in the building, surely that was a reason against letting him in...
I.. can't agree. This is below the common standard of the Escapist.. You don't seem to have really justified your opinions, nor made them very interesting - More of a mild rant than anything.
I want more than just shooting monsters. This makes me different from, say, the Halo-buying mass, just as my tastes in cinema, music and even food tend to different slightly from the 'majority' who decide what the supermarket stocks, and what the tv broadcasts on the main channels.
And.. I'm not that unique.
"I didn't lay waste to 43,000 tentacle thingies to assume the lotus position and light myself on fire before the tentacle queen as a form of political protest on behalf of mankind. This is the kind of ambiguous heroism reserved for real life."
I think most of you missed the point of the article. "Call of Duty 4 syndrome". Most companies aren't doing moral choices right. Take Fallout 3, for example.
note possible spoiler
You get negative karma for killing the scientist in the mission "Those!" My man's playing god with ants and isn't really remourseful (this forum needs spellcheck, or at least I do) about the settlement he moved into getting destoried,by his hand. HUH? I didn't understand that.
I can't believe that you actually fell for that con.
I think this is quite stupid at all. In my entire life (which, let's face it just 16 years so far) I've never had a f*ckin choice about good or bad. Never. All the choices I could made were something... I dunno, neutral. No bad, no good. Whether they wer wrong or right only turned out after I made them. And I realised, I couldn't do sh*t about it. Life is not like a movie, or a video game.
The Best of All Possible Worlds
For all their doom and gloom, videogames are pretty much always about the unqualified triumph of good over evil, a happy occasion that's pretty rare in everyday life. So why do critics insist that games need to be polluted with more ambiguity?
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Someone obviously hasn't played "Heroin: Veins of Funderfulness."
That my friends was one of the best tower defense games I've ever played.
Nice article with some funny anecdotes :D
I don't agree with the sentiment though - I think game's need to tackle more mature issues if they want to become as respected as the film and literature industries. Games sit alongside DVDs and books in places like HMV but simultaneously they feel like they're in their own corner of the shop, slightly maligned for being there because they're nerdy games without much substance.
It's not that I have a major bugbear with this situation, but I would like it if games permeated wider circles and one way of doing this is to make them more thought-provoking so that they tackle maturer themes.
Some games attempt to do this: the MGS series springs to mind and I think it makes for a very enjoyable experience, if also a divisive one. Global Conflicts is another game that firmly falls into the category of realistic games, albeit a less mainstream one.
I think more games that strive to interpret or criticise real-life are welcome, but games as escapism isn't something that should be lost.
I had to read the article twice to get the message from the author.
Awesome read, thanks!
I just wasted five minutes trying to find Cuttlefish Wars.
One day, I hope to gain enough wisdom to be called 'gullible'.
"Tommy Vercetti die like Al Pacino in Scarface"
This would of made the game awesome.
However, I will say that I have yet to see a game that allows you to be any evil other than Chaotic Stupid. I want to plot, scheme, make grandiose plans and laugh a sinister laugh when it comes to fruition.
Honestly, I can see what the author is trying to say, but personally I've outgrown the sunshine, lollipops, and tac-nukes stage of gaming. I don't play a game in order to numb my brain by butchering Nameless Foe #457,890. I want the game to actually engage me on several levels, not just the visceral. Call of Duty 4, for example, reawakened my love of the FPS. Not just because it was an amazingly presented game, but because you /felt/ something during its gut-wrenching storyline. Would I personally want to crawl out of the wreckage of a helicopter while dying of radiation poisoning? Hell NO! But that one jaw-dropping scene made the game for me. That single, harsh reality-check engaged me more deeply than the entire trilogy of Halo. Sorry, but I need some substance to my experience. I don't really watch movies any more for this very reason; the majority of which are vacuous explosion fests where puppies rain from the sky at the end. Like I said, maybe I've grown beyond that stuff.
P.S. And yes, I wanted to see Tommy Vercetti die at the end of Scarface... the guy was a dink! ;-)
All games are ultimately optimistic. No one wants to experience the inner emotional life of a videogame character; no one wants to see Tommy Vercetti die like Al Pacino in Scarface; and certainly no one wants to play a videogame about someone's descent into heroin addiction.
This is incorrect, because some of the most famous games ever made are of a pessimist nature, and some of these games do kill of the main character, or another playable charcter.
Pessimistic are thankfully becoming more in fashion, before this you had Enix games, and fighter games, now you have games like Indigo Prophecy, Shadow of the Collosus, soon Deep Rain, Bioshock, and every war game and survival horror game to ever exist.. dark natured games are good.
Didn't ambiguity use to mean evil?
No. Not now, not ever.
I don't see why you wouldn't want ambiguity in a game. When I play a game I want to be able to choose to become a hero, whether it be by playing the role of the knight in shining armor from step one or through a desperate struggle of survival leading to my character finally facing his destiny and becoming a true hero. However I wouldn't want the character I'm playing as to view himself as a villain and rather justify his actions no matter how evil they may seem. So ambiguity in a game ? Good. Ambiguity from the main character's point of view ? Not so much.
I occasionally find it funny that satirical pieces like this are taken seriously by so many people, but in this case, I'm actually a little shocked that there are people are in support of such emotionless videogames, while others protest with such vehement criticism.
I just like to make it clear, Tom, that some of us understood your point.