Sunday, 24 June 2012

Need for Story?

The recent announcement of a movie based on the Need for Speed franchise caught my attention. Movies based on games are nothing new, nor are they usually worth the degradation of a franchise's reputation in the eyes of its fans.

But when IP-holders greenlight such movies I think it highlights an underlying misinterpretation of the role of story in games, and that is the notion that we as players are in it for the spectacle, to observe some dramatic events unfolding, to find out what happens next, and not to - you know - do it ourselves. Need for Speed is appealing to its fanbase because it let's you drive fast cars. It has nothing to do with characters or plot or dramatic arcs.

Emphasis on character disproportionate to actual game experience.

Tadhg Kelly recently stirred up a bit of a debate by claiming that we do not care about player characters in the same way we care about movie protagonists; we merely see them as dolls or conduits for our actions and do not regard them empathetically. I'm inclined to agree, and there has never been a better example of this than a game of racing cars having human relationships shoehorned into it.

Friday, 8 June 2012

I can't tell them I'm a complete ignoramus

"Try to imagine the test-chamber sequence at the beginning of Half-Life if Gordon Freeman were wisecracking all the way through, or telling his colleagues he didn't have a clue what to do. The game would grind to a halt. Instead, the player thinks, 'These scientists all act as if I know what to do, and I can't tell them I'm a complete ignoramus.' I live to create that kind of tension in the player."

Marc Laidlaw, on the mute protagonist (source)