Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Unintended (and silly) subtext in Games

I went to a talk recently by Paul Callaghan, a writer for video games. I was quite inspired by his talk . . . teaching us a fair bit about how to craft a story in an interactive environment so that it remains interesting.

He used a few examples of what constitutes a compelling vs a boring story in a game and why something might or might not be interesting.

He was describing the futility of Gears of War (Spoilers incoming!):

You spend half the game trying to find a resonator that will map the Locust tunnels . . . in the end, it doesn't work . . . magically, you get given a map. Then you spend the 2nd half of the game trying to make sure a particular bomb is set off that should wipe out the Locust . . . but it doesn't work either. The whole plot of the game tells you that no matter what effort you put in, everything you've done is futile.

I came up with my own crackpot theory . . . because it's ironic that while you've been playing a character in a game who's efforts eventually amount to nothing . . . you've also been wasting your time playing computer games . . . and in the end, your efforts will also amount to nothing . . . I'm sure it's completely unintended, but it was a fun idea.

I also just finished playing God of War 3. On a side note, it's a fun, gory, visceral romp through beautiful environments with epic scale and cinematic camera angles. Highly recommended as a game for letting off steam and stuffing around :) Partway through the game I came up with another stupid idea: Kratos represents Christianity. He spends the entire game systematically wiping out the entirety of Greek Mythology . . . like a giant monotheistic crusader, tearing gorgons' heads off and gouging out gods' eyes . . . I can just hear him screaming out: "No one will believe in you anymore once I'm finished!"

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