Jump to content
IGNORED

Are Games Growing Up?


steven_poole
 Share

Recommended Posts

Interesting how a discussion about adult themed mature games has turned into one about non linearity. I guess the perception amongst gamers is the "cleverer" we make them, the less frivilous they'll appear and so people will HAVE to take us seriously. But these people are largely binge drinking, soap watching, vacuous dunderheads. They don't play games because they demand that you pay attention and neither help them pull, nor get drunk, nor earn more money, and therefore aren't worth bothering about.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've not played it, so I'm certainly not in the best position to comment, but this has always sounded a bit gimmicky to me.

I stuggle to think of anyone who, after having their save file erased for not ejecting, would be happy with the experience as it's more hardcore.

Just don't get it myself.

Ah, so it's not just "you die, you get the file deleted" then? You get a grace period to eject or something similar? And can you always do that? Or are there there some situations that you can't, and therefore you will definitely lose the save file?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In order to raise the power of the emotion the player feels, you'd need to cement the outcome arising from their actions. So if you want to see games where you feel guilt for (eg) being responsible for someone's death, then you need to radically alter the gameplay so that they can't go back to right the wrong that they've committed. So the game would be (in terms of timeline, anyway) entirely linear, with the possibility you could mess it all up and have no recourse other than restarting.

I've felt something like this, without any actual guilt being displayed by the game. I was playing Federation vs Zeon, smashing mobile suits up left right and centre. One suit I shot and left critically damaged. Breathing on his MS would probably have destroyed it. He then started to retreat, going full speed ahead out of the operation area. I started to chase, and shot him down before he could leave the area. I don't know why, since it's just an AI and not a real person, but I felt rather guilty after that. Given the poor condition of the MS, it couldn't have posed any threat, but I still felt the need to shoot him down. Weird, that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Interesting how a discussion about adult themed mature games has turned into one about non linearity. I guess the perception amongst gamers is the "cleverer" we make them, the less frivilous they'll appear and so people will HAVE to take us seriously.

Erm... no.

The discussion is about taking (virtual) actions seriously, and taking responsibility for them - a characteristic of maturity. Linear, forced-death/restart in games is one way of doing this, but there are obviously others. Care to add?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What about Steel Batalion - get killed, instant death? Might make you more careful with how you tackle situations, and make sure you're aware of the concequences of your actions.

In FFXI if you're KO'd you lose (quite a lot of) EXP points and can level down. You also start again at your last home point which can feasibly be miles back. It is not possible to save in the conventional sense in this game - you are able to log out and, providing you are not attacked doing so (it takes 30 seconds), when you restart you start at the same place.

It makes exploration and fighting tougher enemies seem very real and dangerous choices and you certainly pay the price for getting it wrong or biting off more than you can chew. I recently made a huge journey between two cities and the risk of being KO'd on that journey was very high - all told I guess the journey took me 3-4 hours of gaming over a couple of days and this kind of risk to reward balance makes for some extremely tense moments. Once you play a game like this, other games can of course seem completely false.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Erm... no.

The discussion is about taking (virtual) actions seriously, and taking responsibility for them - a characteristic of maturity. Linear, forced-death/restart in games is one way of doing this, but there are obviously others. Care to add?

Erm ... yes. Read the thread, not just the bits you've posted in. Just because you steered it one way doesn't mean everything else is excluded.

How does taking your actions seriously constitute maturity when we're talking about an entertainment product? I never read the thread as being about how games are replacing reality, but how they are or are not worthy pursuits for a supposedly mature person, along the lines of listening to music, or reading, or going to the theatre.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Interesting how a discussion about adult themed mature games has turned into one about non linearity.

That's my fault I guess; I'm trying to think of a way to make people fully engage in the action, rather than to approach it in a trial-and-error way.

I guess the perception amongst gamers is the "cleverer" we make them, the less frivilous they'll appear and so people will HAVE to take us seriously. But these people are largely binge drinking, soap watching, vacuous dunderheads. They don't play games because they demand that you pay attention and neither help them pull, nor get drunk, nor earn more money, and therefore aren't worth bothering about.

:o

I think that a kinder interpretation might be that

i) some people just don't see the point in playing games full stop, and

ii) those that dabble don't want to actually play and experience games, they just want to be entertained by them. For all that FIFA games were mocked, for example, for those who rarely play games they provided a chance to play something they already knew the rules for, and were also relatively easy. They didn't actually really care about realism - all they wanted to do was score as many goals as possible. If that meant you ended up with a score of 18-0 then that didn't mean the game was flawed and not-enjoyable - quite the opposite, it made it fun.

I'd suggest that there's a large number of games out there which are already far more complex than anybody in either of the two groups above would realise.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Erm ... yes. Read the thread, not just the bits you've posted in. Just because you steered it one way doesn't mean everything else is excluded.

Um... everything else from that point on was excluded as a result of the 'steering away' that took place. As is how discussions work. Drop in and steer it back if you want, it's all good!

How does taking your actions seriously constitute maturity when we're talking about an entertainment product?

Taking actions seriously is one way of recognising some element of maturity. Being 'mature' is being able to make judgements and see concequences, leading to genuine thought about what you are doing and why.

I never read the thread as being about how games are replacing reality, but how they are or are not worthy pursuits for a supposedly mature person, along the lines of listening to music, or reading, or going to the theatre.

I'm not talking about them replacing reality, just about them stimulating the mind more, to trigger a sense of responsibilty or perhaps maturity. This, however, has to be done differently to other mediums due the nature of interactivity.

This isn't about what sort of person one has to be to engage in these pursuits, but rather what they inherently are and how you can measure the maturity of them.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ah, so it's not just "you die, you get the file deleted" then? You get a grace period to eject or something similar? And can you always do that? Or are there there some situations that you can't, and therefore you will definitely lose the save file?

As I said, not played it myself, but I'm led to believe that you have to eject before your health runs out - I don't think theres a particular period in which to do this.

The eject button is under a plastic case too or something.

Beyond Good and Evil and Manhunt made me extra careful simply by making it quite inconvenient and frustrating for me to fail. Erasing the save file seems a little drastic to me and it should at least be an option that you can turn off.

It put me right off SB to be honest.

That and the price tag.

Oh and the fact I haven't got an XBox. Yeah, that put me off too.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So, JPickford asked if games should tell a story or be a story.

Isn't the answer quite obvious? I don't think there's a single game out there that doesn't put you in some sort of control. You're always the one who decides the actions taken by the lead protagonist, or you're the one who sculpts the gameworld to your own whim. Without a doubt, games should be a story.

The best games leave you with memories of what just happened. In Tetris, you remember how you turned the game around from a huge pile and built up an impressive high score in the end. In Wario Ware, you remember how you somehow found yourself in the Zone and amassed a score of 62 on Thrilling. In PES3 you remember hitting the last minute equaliser to beat your mate and in Civ 3 you remember cutting your losses and nuking the enemy.

Experiences, and they add up to a story.

Isn't maturity in non-interactive media related to the story told, and its ability to make you think? Wouldn't it be the same in games?

The question is, which titles generate a story that in the end, makes you think? There are quite a few...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The best games leave you with memories of what just happened. In Tetris, you remember how you turned the game around from a huge pile and built up an impressive high score in the end. In Wario Ware, you remember how you somehow found yourself in the Zone and amassed a score of 62 on Thrilling. In PES3 you remember hitting the last minute equaliser to beat your mate and in Civ 3 you remember cutting your losses and nuking the enemy.

Experiences, and they add up to a story.

Mmm, I'm not sure I agree with that last statement - I don't think experiences like clearing a load of crucial lines at Tetris and the wash of temporary relief you get from it add up to a story. I'd say they're just that - experiences. Emotive ones, yes, but nothing more than that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Who says a story has to follow the set steps we've been shown in countless books and films?

The story is the story of your game of Tetris. It's nonsensical to anyone uninterested in Tetris, and it may well be boring to those who are, but it's a story nonetheless.

Which isn't to say it's specifically mature. It's not. But it's an example of how any game, even those with not so much of a smidgeon of a plot, can have a story, complete with emotions.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Who says a story has to follow the set steps we've been shown in countless books and films?

The story is the story of your game of Tetris. It's nonsensical to anyone uninterested in Tetris, and it may well be boring to those who are, but it's a story nonetheless.

Which isn't to say it's specifically mature. It's not. But it's an example of how any game, even those with not so much of a smidgeon of a plot, can have a story, complete with emotions.

I know what you mean, Fry, but they are technically stories of your own experiences. A game possessing some kind of narrative is a different proposition.

I personally feel that certain games (especially the ones you mentioned) don't need stories, but there are clearly some types of games that can richly benefit from one.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Who says a story has to follow the set steps we've been shown in countless books and films?

The story is the story of your game of Tetris. It's nonsensical to anyone uninterested in Tetris, and it may well be boring to those who are, but it's a story nonetheless.

Which isn't to say it's specifically mature. It's not. But it's an example of how any game, even those with not so much of a smidgeon of a plot, can have a story, complete with emotions.

I see what you're saying, but I'd have to say I don't agree. By that rationale, anything with a defined start and finish has a storyline - be it boiling an egg, filling a glass of water, thowing a ball etc.

A storyline (to me, anyway) needs to be more than that. With a game I'd say you need to be able to influence the eventual outcome in order for it to be a storyline. With Tetris the outcome is set - the game will finish with the screen full of blocks - all you can do is delay the inevitable.

Not that I'm disparaging the enjoyment of playing Tetris; I just don't think that the gameplay could really be described as a story.

But then we're back to the problem that has plagued this thread - definitions for "mature", "grown up", "story" etc vary from person to person, and until we can agree on what they mean it's going to be nigh-on impossible to reach a concord.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Expand it now. Tetris was a tiny example. Take Elite.

In Elite, the story is of a young space traveller who makes his way in the world. He barters, he trades, he fights for his life. Maybe he turns to piracy to make ends meet and become a fearsome pilot, maybe he simply wants to visit every system and sample the delights (well, not that there's much).

It's a story. It's a story that you make. And that's the key thing - games are an interactive experience and therefore the emotions you feel and the thoughts that pass through your mind are all part of the story, making it so much more than a pre-written script shovelled into a game to bring the gameplay sequences together.

That's why games such as Civ 3 can be classified as mature, because despite having no plot whatsoever they conjure up a great story with its own morals and consequences.

Or would you rather through games in with films and books and pretend interactivity is secondary?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In Elite, the story is of a young space traveller who makes his way in the world. He barters, he trades, he fights for his life. Maybe he turns to piracy to make ends meet and become a fearsome pilot, maybe he simply wants to visit every system and sample the delights (well, not that there's much).

It's a story. It's a story that you make. And that's the key thing - games are an interactive experience and therefore the emotions you feel and the thoughts that pass through your mind are all part of the story, making it so much more than a pre-written script shovelled into a game to bring the gameplay sequences together.

In one way I'd agree with that - it's more engrossing because you can do what you want, in your own time etc. But also, Elite was totally open-ended so as such it's wasn't really a storyline. Beyond the challenge of actually becoming rated as Elite, it was (as you say) a story you made.

I'm not sure I'd put that under the banner of "storyline"; that to me implies a greater degree of prescription.

Or would you rather through games in with films and books and pretend interactivity is secondary?

Secondary to plot, you mean? No, not at all. I'm just questioning your usage of the word "storyline" is all. The application of it to Tetris and (less so) Elite seems to stretch it - unnecessarily, IMO. I don't see anything derogatory or demeaning in something being "just a game". Tetris is a fantastic game, but I think that's all it is. To put it in the same bracket as a game which tries to weave a conventional (start-middle-end) storyline - Silent Hill, maybe, or Metroid Prime - seems to stretch the concept beyond its elastic limit to me.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have to say, I think you've missed both Harvest's point and the distinction that's taken ten pages to establish. Yes, it's all part of the experience, but there's no reason why we can't sensibly distinguish the elements of that experience as interactive or passive. On a sliding scale between binary oppositions, if you prefer, but still determinable.

At the passive end you have the script, the backstory, the setting, the FMV rewards, what have you. At the interactive end you have the gameplay, the actions, the rules of the game, the run / jump / drive nitty-gritty.

So far, it's been easy to look at the passive elements and ascribe qualities like "childish" or "mature". This is where a large part of the context and the cultural baggage sits, and where literary / cinematic conventions are readily employed for the purpose of narrative.

But when I look at what I get out of good gameplay, the abstract activity I engage in has far more in common with (say) physical sport, or boardgaming, or playing cards, than with films and books. JP's comments about getting frantic in Elite remind me more of the kind of emotional highs and lows you feel when playing a team sport or gambling for real money at Poker. We've all heard about those barriers under the table to stop Chess Grandmasters kicking each other. I think playing games is vital to the human experience; it is as subject to emotional investment as anything else we do; and it is being both misunderstood and belittled when somebody asks why videogames can't "do a Pride And Prejudice".

To show how inappropriate the question is, just turn it on its head: why did Jane Austen never write anything that makes me punch the air with a spontaneous "Yessss! Eat that!" ?

I do believe there are still many innovations to come, and we've only scratched the surface of using our machines for play. I also have a little theory about how the technology has greatly advanced the roleplaying aspect (in its truest sense) of many modern games. But I've gone on long enough.

I would completely agree with you, and I must say, read his post again, because he did NOT say that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would completely agree with you, and I must say, read his post again, because he did NOT say that.

no, that's EXACTLY what I said. you were trying to imply that the FMVs and non interactive elements were intrinsic to the game, and Zy,John and I are trying to argue that isn't the case.

I know that it seems hard to comprehend, especially at it seems to have come to name calling on your part, but the fact is that GAMEPLAY hasn't matured on iota. you can layer on as much maturity in the story as you want - what's underneath doesn't seem to have changed at all.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Secondary to plot, you mean? No, not at all. I'm just questioning your usage of the word "storyline" is all. The application of it to Tetris and (less so) Elite seems to stretch it - unnecessarily, IMO. I don't see anything derogatory or demeaning in something being "just a game". Tetris is a fantastic game, but I think that's all it is. To put it in the same bracket as a game which tries to weave a conventional (start-middle-end) storyline - Silent Hill, maybe, or Metroid Prime - seems to stretch the concept beyond its elastic limit to me.

Just to clarify, I've never used "storyline". Storyline to me suggests a pre-scripted narrative such as in Metal Gear Solid.

"Story" sounds so much more openended, without the "line" to trap it.

Which is what every game has. Now, I only used Tetris to demonstrate that every game has a story. It's irrelevant that the story you create in Tetris is shit, it's still a story.

Elite, and certainly more so in Civilization II, where there is no set narrative, end up producing quite convincing stories. How? Through the gameplay, the actions you take, and what you're thinking and feeling as you play it.

Civ II conjures up a mature story spanning the history of civilized earth, it questions the use of atomic weaponry and often you find yourself unwilling to use it as it has clear detrimental effects to the Earth, and to your invisible but all-important populace.

It manages this, without even having any tale of it's own. The story is your story, your story is different to everyone elses.

Hence my post - all games should strive to be a story. They can tell a story during this, and often I want them to, but ultimately you find that your own experiences in playing it result in a story which to you is absolutely brilliant if the game is good. Even if only for a short time.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In order to raise the power of the emotion the player feels, you'd need to cement the outcome arising from their actions. So if you want to see games where you feel guilt for (eg) being responsible for someone's death, then you need to radically alter the gameplay so that they can't go back to right the wrong that they've committed. So the game would be (in terms of timeline, anyway) entirely linear, with the possibility you could mess it all up and have no recourse other than restarting.

How many people do you think would be prepared to play a game where this was the case? I'd guess not many.

I suppose it's here that games become separate from other forms of media entertainment - because whereas a film/book just has to be entertaining, a game has to be entertaining whilst being interactive. Which is a much bigger challenge. People are used to having no control over the direction of a film - with a game, they at least have the illusion of it.

The game I mentioned previously in my large-ish post - Galatea - is actually an example of this idea in motion :blink:

With Galatea, the whole game is based around the effect your actions have on the world. Sure, if you do something wrong you could restart the whole game, as with any other title, but thanks to the way its designed (I, at least) would still feel responsible for whatever had happened beforehand. Free the statue's mind, and get her to step down from her pedestal? I felt surprising happiness - not for 'successfully' completing the game (there is no real 'success' to be had in this game), but for actually doing something good for this virtual character.

It gets around this by being a short 'game' - 15 minutes is a decent length for it - but this doesn't get rid of the fact that it forces you to take full blame for your actions, which is why I included it in my post as a mature game. You might want to try it some time ;)

Edit: actually, it's also a good example of what Fry Crayola is getting at.

Rather than actually putting you in a story, it puts you in a situation, and asks you to make what you will of it. This makes it truly 'your story', which is how it so successfully makes the results all your responsibility.

At the same time, the other game I mentioned (Photopia) is very much the opposite - you are placed inside an incredibly linear story, with no ability to break free of its constraints. And yet it is done so skillfully that it too evokes real emotions in the player - through the skill of the writing, and the way it forces you to take the viewpoint of various characters within the game. Indeed, if you play it a second time around and intentionally attempt to 'break-free' of the game, the game is so well written that even though it thwarts your efforts in a believable way by placing you in situations where - even if it was real life - you would be unable to get out of the results of these events. This makes it all the more believable, and just as mature (in my opinion) as Galatea.

I believe that placing the character in both a situation or a storyline can work, as long as the latter is written well enough to successfully 'feel' as though you are free to do what you like, and that it is simply logic that prevents you from doing what you might wish to do, and as long as the former successfully makes you feel as though your decisions actually make a difference. To me, these are the things that make a truly mature game.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

no, that's EXACTLY what I said. you were trying to imply that the FMVs and non interactive elements were intrinsic to the game, and Zy,John and I are trying to argue that isn't the case.

They aren't parts of the interactive gameplay, no, but they most certainly are parts of the game package as a whole.

I'd agree though, that making these elements more 'gorwn-up (*shudder*) is not the way to positively improve game maturity as it doesn't work with the strengths of the medium (ie. interactivity).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

At the end of the day, emotional involvement through FMV and emotional involvement through the gamplay itself are ineperable. I remember keenly the frustration I felt at ultimately giving up in the Ray fight in MGS2, followed by the grinning satisfaction of a long-dead Emma Emmerich's virus fucking the enemy over from beyond the grave.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

no, that's EXACTLY what I said. you were trying to imply that the FMVs and non interactive elements were intrinsic to the game, and Zy,John and I are trying to argue that isn't the case.

I know that it seems hard to comprehend, especially at it seems to have come to name calling on your part, but the fact is that GAMEPLAY hasn't matured on iota. you can layer on as much maturity in the story as you want - what's underneath doesn't seem to have changed at all.

So, er, how is it possible for GAMEPLAY to mature? If we want to strip away everything until we are left with purest game (take away advances in cinematics, plot, graphics etc), then gaming can never 'mature', can it?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So, er, how is it possible for GAMEPLAY to mature? If we want to strip away everything until we are left with purest game (take away advances in cinematics, plot, graphics etc), then gaming can never 'mature', can it?

This is precisely what the topic is questioning/discussing.

And yes, I believe it is quite possible for gameplay to mature, to evolve, to become thought-povoking, subtle and unique. There are plenty of examples of it 'out there' already, but many of them focus on the plot and themes as well as what you do and how you do it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So gaming will become more personal so that it will be about 'moral' or 'ethical' choices rather than plot and narrative? That is how maturity will be reached?

Actually a thought has come to mind and persons with a knowledge of literary theory may be able to help... is narrative and plot really just a device to enable the reader, viewer, gamer to be suspended in stucture that forces them to make choices based on moral and ethical crisis and then being forced to consider either alternatives or implications of these choices based on how the narrative progresses? In this way the only difference between traditional media and gaming would be the be that a gamer can choose to follow a certain line of thought rather than being forced to examine the line of thought of the author.

Ultimately, whether it is a book or a game, the person will be confronted with an absolute morality which is compared to his or her own (games afterall are designed by other people).

*God these thoughts are messy... sorry*

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So, er, how is it possible for GAMEPLAY to mature? If we want to strip away everything until we are left with purest game (take away advances in cinematics, plot, graphics etc), then gaming can never 'mature', can it?

erm, sure it is. we just don't know it yet. but if you manage to come up with a game concept that is beyond the norm of shooting, fighting, racing and so on, I'm sure there are hundreds of developers who would like to talk to you.

I only ever brought it up because people seem to wrongly be equating mature plot to mature game. If you put the plot to Kramer Vs kramer on top of some kind of platformer, it would have a mature storyline, sure, but in what respect would the game be mature?

Anyway, as I've said before, I couldn't give a shit about maturity gameplay anyway. I'm happy enough to just have games for Adults, regardless of how immature the game itself is. I want to be entertained, not have moral dilemmas - that's what real life is for.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is precisely what the topic is questioning/discussing.

And yes, I believe it is quite possible for gameplay to mature, to evolve, to become thought-povoking, subtle and unique. There are plenty of examples of it 'out there' already, but many of them focus on the plot and themes as well as what you do and how you do it.

Actually, the irritating thing about this topic as far as its originator is concerned is that the only aspect he appeared to accept was any kind of evolution was graphical performance. I haven't seen a single post yet which gives a solitary example of how, narratively or mechanically, gaming has become more adult or matured since the 8 bit days.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

*grumbles about people completely ignoring his last post, containing as it did Yann's idea of what good examples of games with mature storylines, and games with mature gameplay. Bah, and indeed humbug*

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just to clarify, I've never used "storyline". Storyline to me suggests a pre-scripted narrative such as in Metal Gear Solid.

"Story" sounds so much more openended, without the "line" to trap it.

Which is what every game has. Now, I only used Tetris to demonstrate that every game has a story. It's irrelevant that the story you create in Tetris is shit, it's still a story.

Fair enough - I'm using (probably erroneously) the words storyline and story interchangeably though. And I still maintain that whatever magic tetris weaves isn't a (shit) story, it's something else entirely. A puzzle, a challenge, maybe? It's a sort of physical equivalent of a crossword, really.

Elite and Civ there's certainly more scope for describing as stories. However, I'd take issue with both of them because of their open-ended nature - whilst this might allow your to impress your own storyline onto them I'd say that doesn't mean the games themselves are stories - in the same way an empty exercise book and a pen isn't a novel, even if it give you the potential to write your own with it IYSWIM.

I suppose what I'm driving at is that creating a canvas onto which people can project their own stories doesn't count (for me) as a story in itself.

However, this is veering away from the topic somewhat I suppose, and is in danger of becoming a semantic discussion.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue. Use of this website is subject to our Privacy Policy, Terms of Use, and Guidelines.