Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Gaming as a Storytelling Medium (Musings)

So youre playing your favourite game about to come at an incredible plot twist when your mom walks in and goes, "When'll you get over those things?". Come on gamers, how many times has it happened to you, huh?
Gamers have always been considered to have a basic image. And definitely not a strong one at that.(Whiny nerds or drugged out teens sitting in front of a screen for the rest of eternity.) That's very unfair.

THIS is so wrong




Nothing can be farther from the truth. Especially for a group which has almost always been completely disregarded even though they are what should actually portray gaming.  True Gamers. Those who actually play a video game not as a pass-time but as something like a good movie. Something that is an(from lack of a less glorifying word) experience.

I'll be the first to say it, gaming has always been considered to be childish and sometimes it's been true. There have been games like Duke Nukem which have done amazingly in the market even though they have the maturity level of a rabbit. But think about this, what about movie's like the Scary Movie series or obscene rap music or metal songs. Even they are all purely made for entertainment but then why are they let off the hook? Would you call people who like movies to be immature if they like Scary Movie? No, because the same person might like Inception, The Shawshank Redemption or even Wall-E.


Awesomeness


The truth is that the primary reason games are frowned upon is because people don't truly know how amazing games are as a storytelling medium. For now, they're just toys that kids play with. Ask someone who's played the Assassins Creed series, Modern Warfare 2, Mass Effect Series or Company of Heroes, if games can deliver an amazing storytelling experience equal to movies, then there'll be an overwhelming HELL YEAH! as an answer. Some may even say that games may be better because of one thing. They are INTERACTIVE.



 MORE Awesomeness(on the same level atleast)


I mean, what do you have more fun doing? Building out of planks of wood yourself or seeing a video of the construction of a birdhouse(with all its dramatic thrills and creatively used set pieces)? Obviously, building one, because it makes you DO stuff. Movies have long been considered to be 'below' novels because they don't really engross your imagination the same way novels are able to. They don't make you think. Those which do are considered to be works of art.
But then here's this new method of storytelling (yes, story telling) which has the pure WOW factor and entertainment value of movies combined with(at least the ability to) engross your mind like a novel. Make you DO stuff while SEEING something breathtaking. How amazing is THAT? This is sometimes lost on people. It's like the invention of the video camera, an ability to create a whole new art form. Games like "Heavy Rain" and the old, "Ico" that are much more focused on storytelling and more importantly, creating a world around the player, proves this very idea.

Games have the ability to set up an atmosphere of dread, magnificence, glory and just amazing awesomeness while having an infinite amount viewing angles and levels of detail. Especially in the latest generation of gaming. All this while at it's core just being FUN to play. Ask someone who's seen Sovereign in Mass Effect, done the jump off the ice cliff in Modern Warfare 2 or even something as simple as climbing up a tower in Assassins Creed, gamers are treated to such beautiful moments every once in awhile... the citadel, Installation 04 in halo, the revelation of Assassins Creed 2, throwing a chicken at an enemy in crysis, while looking into a glorious sunrise, a great stealth kill, the perfect sniper shot... a perfect multiplayer kill... yeah... Oh sorry, got off topic.

http://farm1.static.flickr.com/229/475041946_f9e0918031_z.jpg
Any gamer would know these


Another great thing about this is that along with the more recent introduction of the internet, it has the ability to be an artform wherein you're actually interacting with each other(at the same time transcending boundaries of distance too). Imagine a global movie theater in which the story of a movie changes based on what the people watching the movie are saying to each other. It truly can be a breathtaking idea once it is realized, it will take time (Right now its either people just jumping around or hitting each other). Start off a multiplayer gamer on his last match(battle) and beneath the kidiness of the dialogue you'll actually see a story emerging from a good war or fantasy movie full of flanking, ambushes and assassinations(Thumbs up to Battlefield and Company of Heroes gamers).

This is why people like (get addicted to) games faster than they like (get addicted to) movies. Simply because at it's best, it is just more engaging and (sometimes) plain better than the average movie. Yes its a little immature, it's still at it's basics(like the movies were), struggling to grow up into what it could be, but that's just because of the many more variables added to the mix. Including music, atmosphere, writing, narrative and dialogue, there's now dialogue, graphics, polygons, AI and interaction. But give it time and it will truly be great.

Alot of fiction has tried to think of a new method of entertainment where people interact with virtual holographic characters, immersing themselves into a new world. And surprisingly, this is the closest thing to it for now. Till then, happy gaming. And for those who aren't, it's your choice, but seriously, GET OFF OUR BACKS.

1 comment:

  1. I completely agree. Gaming has the potential to become great art.

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