Monday, February 18, 2008

The Great Expectation

Listening to last week's(2/15/2008) 1UP Yours podcast, N'Gai of Newsweek's Level Up claims he does not expect, nor should anyone, a game to tell a good story, at least to the level of novels. He makes an anology of film's cinematography to game's gameplay; as images in motion is the key feature of films, gameplay is the key to games, not stories. PuzzleQuest's heart was the puzzle itself, not the quest. Portal, which had a breathtaking revelation in the course of its short gameplay, would also be dismissal had it not nailed gameplay portion (which, it did with a state-of-the-art perfection). Asking for a grand epic novel from a game is like asking a painting to tell a story with same depth as a novel; that is like wishing as much sour taste from an apple as from an orange.

Although many of gamers may be compelled to object to this view, especially if you're a fan of most of JRPGs, Call of Duty, Half-Life, or any other major franchise out there, however, I am agreeing with N'Gai's view with my complete heart. As I've said in a previous post, we have to realize today's games that we so much love are in fact a meshup of various media; it's a mix of music, movies, books, games, dolls, and so on. This is like someone who wants sour taste added to apple creating a apple-orange smoothie.

However, I do think, or better yet, know that games can tell stories, or more like messages. Take widely acclaimed Passage for example. In its short 5-minute gameplay, it manages to trigger players to think about life and death, in very interesting way. (If you haven't tried this game, it's a must. Go try now.) Portal, too, delievered very compelling experience with its narrative.

I must say, gameplay as means of delivering messages is very hard. And game as a medium being still in an infant stage, it does borrow advantages of other media to help make itself sexier and more fun. But it's nice to know that more people are thinking about this issue, and are slowly driving the medium forward. Hope we see more Portal in future, not another Lost Odyssey.

No comments: