Pushing ‘W’ makes all the difference

21/03/2010

People occasionally email me about games.  Some of them are big companies.  They all want my input.  By ‘input’ I usually mean ‘money’.  I’d really like to turn that relationship around.  However, I digress.  I mean I do that a lot.  An I mean A LOT.  I mean not just like one lot that you might have when you are drawing lots and it’s only a straw or something, I mean the size of a really big parking lot.  Like maybe you know in the USA where they have all those planes mothballed in the desert?  That’s probably a lot isn’t it.  Well it’s that sort of lot that represents the particular “a” lot that I digress.  However, I digress.

I have actually had people read this blog that I don’t actually know you know.  However, some of them I do know.  Alright, many of them are me, but no matter.  This is why I’m putting off the group gaming blog cos then half my readers will also be the writers.  Hmmph.  Anyway – BLOGGING  ABOUT VIDEOGAMES WILL RESUME.

Little Eccentrica writes:

couldn’t sleep so I have just played that Air Pressure game you bookmarked … had to google before I got that Air Pressure is supposed to be ‘about drugs’ – mind you there is a comment on here from the game author who says:
“The game though is not about drugs, although it is valid to interpret it that way.”

I know, Death of the Author and all that…

seems like games have gone so sad. Maybe you’ll say that games have gone so *everything* there are so many out there esp. in the indie world. But there seem to be loads about fear, loneliness, being around people you don’t like. do you think a reaction against total lack of character psychology in many games for so long? I keep thinking about the old woman in the graveyard one – suspect more so than if it was a short film – being ‘active’ even if it just involves pressing an arrow key puts you in a fundamentally different state from passively watching a completed and sealed product (no idea why text keeps going red sorry)

I liked the red text, I thought it added drama, so  I’ve reproduced it here.  I’ve also added links in cos I is well professional video games blogger hongu.  Anyway, I wrote back:

There seems to be some disagreement as to what Air Pressure is about, but it does seem sad somehow.  I played through 4 times and got three different endings.  First I did everything to save the relationship.  I just agreed with her regardless of what “my thoughts” said.  Anything to stay with her.  Next play I was as sullen and unresponsive as possible.  I took every opportunity to get away from her and ignored her and told her to go away.  In that ending, she did.  I knew there was a third ending and wasn’t sure how to get there… took a couple of goes to get “closer” to her.  I thought that this must be the good ending.  The status quo wasn’t going to make me happy, leaving seemed brave rather than happy.  I thought things needed to change somehow and everything could be better.  Then I ended up in hospital.

Er….

I was almost relieved (though felt a bit stupid) when I read that it was “about drugs” cos I’m not sure I understand it otherwise.  Though I thought I’d ended up in hospital at first cos of self-harm or suicide pact.  Aaaaanyway.  To be fair to the “sadness” level of these things, “Air Pressure” is like an arty parody of a LOT of Japanese “dating sims.”  It’s vastly outnumbered by men on bullet trains playing with their virtual girlfriends on their nintendo DSes and marrying their pillows.

No red text there, and I’ve added in the link to the mighty RPS which is obviously where I got the link.  They are at the same time my inspiration, and the reason it’s hardly worth bothering.  I really should focus on analysing the AI in games really.  Have you played Empire:Total War? Shocking.  One of these days I must tell you about that.  However, let’s carry on with that big issue of our day.  Yes, games are completely wonderful and are an amazing new way of telling stories etc etc.  yadda-yadda immersion Braid blah blah Half-Life blah ….

You are completely right about these things being more effective than films because of the interaction.  The slightest sliver of agency makes all the difference in the world.  I played through Dear Esther the other day.  It’s very beautiful but it seemed quite linear.  However, there’s a point where you have to jump down into a cave.  I knew there was no choice really if I wanted to carry on with the story, but I was scared.  That was great.

Okay, not as scared as when playing Korsakovia in the dark on my own in red-green 3D.  I actually had to stop playing.  Both of these are mods of Half-Life 2 so you have the familiar FPS controls and everything, but this is so far from the supersoldier badass on ice gliding around corners that you get so used to.  I was SO relieved to find a crow-bar that I could use as a weapon.  Not that I ever saw a bad guy. Just this empty hospital… A different one.  Blimey how much time do I spend in video game hospitals?  Arkham Asylum’s another.  Also finally got round to starting the original Bioshock (faaaan-tastic) and have just toured their medical facilities.  The doctor was still there though.  He had never finished his quest to make a person truly beautiful.  To escape the “tyranny of symmetry” o_O  That’s a great game with a brilliant plot and setting.  The Idle Thumbs were imagining a world where video games grew up differently and weren’t all about shooting people.  Bioshock is a case in point, the shooting people almost spoils the game…  For that reason I’m playing it on “Easy”  – I just want the experience, I don’t need the exercise.

Argh long response.  Really should get back on the blog innit. lol. Etc.

Your wish is my command little earlier self!  On the blog you are!

If we are being serious about the burgeoning art-form or whatever, then it’s relevant to say that anger is the easiest emotion to fake.  It’s easy to scream and shout.  That’s violent games.  Easy to evoke the right emotions maybe?  I’ll say that sadness is also easy.  So then:

Video Games®

Immerse yourself in misery.™

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