Thursday, April 8, 2010

S03 Assasins Creed and Heavy Rain

As many observers have noted, we don’t speak of controlling a cursor on the screen when we describe the experience of playing a game; we act as if we had unmediated access to the fictional space. We refer to our game characters in the first person and act as if their experiences were our own. James Newman has argued that we might understand the immediacy of game play not in terms of how convincing the representation of the character and the fictional world is but rather in terms of the character’s “capacity” to respond to our impulses and desires

The Jenkins article was very interesting to me because I was always surrounded with hardcore gamers and have considered at some point going into the gaming industry. I think video games are definitely an art form because they evoke so many emotions in their players. People who play video games are so invested in them, in the characters, the graphics, the concepts and the game play all at once. I remember when Final Fantasy came out and the hype that came with it. I remember the way my friends talked about the game: the conversation consisted of comments on the way the characters interacted with their surroundings, the quality of the image, the quality and back stories of the characters and the story of the game all in all. When I was interested in video games I was interested in the graphics and the amazing way in which video games try to mimic the real but yet create their own real in the process. I say this because even though video game designers, and animators, try to replicate things like light and motion they are doing it in the context of a world that is fantastical and they can thus manipulate things to achieve an even greater emotion than reality can.
This article also made me think of two specific games, Heavy Rain which is an interactive drama video game and Assassin’s Creed which as I recall was state of the art when it came out because of the level of interaction that occurred between the main character and his surroundings. I thought of those two games because they both have a completely different style of play. The first has a very limited amount of game play but the user still feels like they are in complete control of the characters life, as he can control the small impulses and detailed actions of the character, and those actions in turn change the course in which the story goes, even though the ending may be constant. The thing is that the gamer is aware of the ending because the game plays out like a motion picture, except that little arrows appear on the screen whenever the character is doing something the gamer can manipulate. The game makes up for this though in the level of intensity of the story and the graphics. Assasin’s Creed on the other hand is highly interactive. The character can bump into people in the crowd and can listen in to conversations etc. I remember how interesting it was playing that game because of the kind of responses that you got as a player from the game. What I mean by that is the way your actions translate into the game, also the fact that you can stray from the mission and go into the crowd. The level of game play in Assasin’s Creed is incredible and the way the character moves is so precise that one can not help but feel connected to that character which in turn provokes a lot of reaction and emotion.
These kinds of games are in complete contrast to Diner Dash which we played. I know Jenkins makes the argument for the usefulness of gaming, which I agree with but I think it varies from game to game. I feel like a game like Diner Dash, though it may train you in some sort of speed or concentration power, it is still mindless and does not require a whole lot of strategy or skill. The graphics are also nothing to be amazed at in our day and age nor is the character responses to actions. All in all that game was entertaining but not at all capturing or engaging.

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