In a class where the assignment is to play video games, I was very interested to see what my classmates chose to play. And after reading through many of their blogs, a common theme among a lot of games, specifically action games, is that of immersion. And while I have played many games that would … Continue reading “An Analysis of Immersion in Games”
In a class where the assignment is to play video games, I was very interested to see what my classmates chose to play. And after reading through many of their blogs, a common theme among a lot of games, specifically action games, is that of immersion. And while I have played many games that would be considered immersive, I had never thought about why they were considered as such. Miso talks about immersion in his blog post about Thief and how one of the most important attributes of an immersive game is to make sure the game remain in the world of realism, as games played outside of this world tend to break the immersive experience (he uses a magical fireball not melting ice as a great example). Following up on this, Chris references to how some people prefer a first person perspective in Skyrim as it increase immersion. And while Skyrim does not thrive in terms of immersion due to its mythical setting and use of magic, the use of first person still allows for an immersive experience.
Going further, Jean Paul brings up Jamie Madigan and the “completeness of sensory information” and “cognitively demanding environments” act as a measure for immersion games. This thought really resonates with me, as while I play a game, part of the immersion comes from the details found within a game. The completeness of information hits home, as this is the feeling of being in the game world, seeing the game world and processing it as you would real life. Aaron also talks about Fallout 4’s immersive quality, and how the addition of real world connections, such as having a pet dog that you have to take care of, makes the game realistic. He also references Madigan, and her concept of the spatial presence of being inside a game create this immersive experience.
And lastly, as a counter to immersion, Samantha talks about how Britney Spears American Dream the company uses this idea of immersion as a way to promote its casualness. Instead of developing a world that promotes realism, it breaks the fourth wall often, calling upon jokes and ideas in the real world in an effort to keep it casual.
After reading all these posts and playing some of the games, I definitely feel the my understanding of the use of immersion in games is much more complete. Also, I found it especially interesting in reading about how games that aren’t exactly realistic attempt to model immersion. Games such as Skyrim are not realistic; however, they use concepts of immersion to create a better game play experience.
When doing some digging regarding Fallout 4, I came across many gamers of past Fallout games who were miffed by the lack of a karma system in the newest game of the series. The Karma system in these games was affected by almost every action done by the player, as good acts cause positive changes, … Continue reading “Moral Code as a Hindrance to Truly Free Play”
When doing some digging regarding Fallout 4, I came across many gamers of past Fallout games who were miffed by the lack of a karma system in the newest game of the series. The Karma system in these games was affected by almost every action done by the player, as good acts cause positive changes, while negative acts invoke negative changes. In his article written about the game series in 2009, prior to Fallout 4’s release, “Moral Decision Making in Fallout”, Marcus Schulzke claims “the Fallout series is unique in giving players an open world in which they can make genuine moral choices. Moral dilemmas are not presented for passive contemplation – they are an integral part of gameplay”(Schulzke).
And having now played Fallout 4 for a significant time, I feel this feature gets lost. Schulzke talks about how Fallout 3’s lack of a moral code is a strength of the game, promoting immersion in the same way that a person is not bound to any particular moral code(Schulzke). In this sense, the game can be played however the operator wants to play it. Whether he wants to blow
up every town and become a “Devil” or save the world and become a “Messiah” (Devil and Messiah, titles bestowed by the game depending on a player’s level and karma, are the highest evil and good titles that one can receive), the choice can be made freely, and the game will adapt around your choices, allowing the player an individual path through the narrative that is influenced by their choices. But this choice is absent in Fallout 4, and instead there is a system where the main character gets “Affinity” depending on how his companions respond to his decisions. Similar, but also very different. And while this is interesting, I would’ve much rather played Fallout 3 and had the karma.
Perhaps Bethesda listened to criticism regarding the game’s lack of morals imposed on a character and decided to invoke a moral code. However, making important NPC’s invincible, or forcing certain important quests and factions upon the player regardless of their choices goes against the fabric of the series, causing a seismic shift in how free the player really is within the game.
Schulzke, Marcus. “Moral Decision Making in Fallout.” Game Studies9.2 (2009): n. pag. Gamestudies.org. Web.
As I alluded to previously, Fallout 4 tells a sad story at the start, and a large part of this story comes in the environment. The more I play, the more I discover how terrible of a spot the protagonist is in. He went from living in a nice, bright house pre nuclear fallout, then … Continue reading “Environmental Storytelling in the Nuclear Waste of Boston”
As I alluded to previously, Fallout 4 tells a sad story at the start, and a large part of this story comes in the environment. The more I play, the more I discover how terrible of a spot the protagonist is in. He went from living in a nice, bright house pre nuclear fallout, then we given false hope by a similarly tidy vault, only to find himself alone in a vast nuclear ravaged wasteland. In game, he is surrounded by nothing but destroyed buildings, abandoned cities, and pools of nuclear waste.
What this scenery does for the game is it causes the player to not only see the fallout, but play through it. Empty buildings become hiding spots for enemies, and cities get overrun by bandits who shoot on sight. The game’s use of environmental storytelling helps create an immersive experience in its realistic representation of what a potential suburban life post nuclear fallout might look like. In Henry Jenkins’ article “Game Design as Narrative Architecture”, he quotes Disney designer Bob Carson on the use of this method of storytelling: “The story element is infused into the physical space. . . . It is the physical space that does much of the work of conveying the story the designers are trying to tell”(123). Jenkins uses the example of Disney theme parks to convey his point, noting how the atmosphere and layout of the attraction play onto the visitor’s prior knowledge of the parks to create a new experience. Going to the Pirates of the Caribbean ride is one thing, but going in with the foresight of the plots of the movies as well as hearing and seeing familiar sights and sounds amplifies the experience.
In this regard, Fallout 4 is not much different. It plays off of prior thoughts of what a fallout might look like, giving it sounds of a nuclear wasteland, and the architecture that would be expected in such a time. This is a very effective method as in open world games such as Fallout 4, it is near impossible to have a linear narrative. Thus, the use of environmental storytelling allows game designers to use the mise-en-scene to enhance and extend the narrative.
Jenkins, Henry. First Person: New Media as Story, Performance, and Game. Ed. Noah Wardrip-Fruin and Pat Harrigan. Cambridge, MA: MIT, 2004. Web.
Having never played a Fallout game before, I wasn’t sure what to expect before I started playing Fallout 4. I knew that I was in for an expansive RPG centered around surviving nuclear fallout, but that was about it. But one thing I didn’t expect was the cold-blooded murder of the character’s wife and the … Continue reading “Empathy Provoked in Fallout”
Having never played a Fallout game before, I wasn’t sure what to expect before I started playing Fallout 4. I knew that I was in for an expansive RPG centered around surviving nuclear fallout, but that was about it. But one thing I didn’t expect was the cold-blooded murder of the character’s wife and the theft of his child within ten minutes of the game starting. I was surprised, as to me it seems a dubious decision to start off a very anticipated game with such negativity and sadness. However, as I played on, I started feeling sorry for the guy and I realized that my character was no longer just any other videogame protagonist, there solely to shoot and kill and explore- he was a man on a mission to find his lost child.
The empathetic feelings provoked early on were then tapped into again shortly after escaping the Vault. The protagonist discovers a dog wandering about all alone in the nuclear wasteland, and takes him to be his companion. This taps into the societal norm of a dog being man’s best friend, and you begin to feel the same feelings as before, but in a different light. You begin to feel sorry for the dog that he’s in the situation, but also hopeful that he will help the survivor.
Ian Bogost has a chapter on empathy in his book “How to do Things With Videogames”, and in it he discusses a Zelda game where at the beginning, Link is far too weak to rescue his sister from the Forbidden Fortress, but later comes back much stronger to handily do the job (19). In a sense, Fallout 4 starts the same way. The protagonist’s child is taken from him very early on while he is unable to help, but presumably he will rescue the baby when he has become strong enough. While the games are drastically different in both narrative and mechanics, they both provoke an experience of weakness that fosters empathy, while leaving the door open to finding the necessary strength to succeed in the latter parts of the game.
Bogost, Ian. How to Do Things with Videogames. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota, 2011. Print.
I read an article that puts together the creepiest locations within Fallout 4, and some it happens to relate to my previous discussion of infanticide. I formerly mentioned that I believed infanticide to not be a possibility within the game, but now I see that it is mentioned but not demonstrated. One of the creepiest … Continue reading “Fall-ing Out of the norm, and making statements.”
I read an article that puts together the creepiest locations within Fallout 4, and some it happens to relate to my previous discussion of infanticide. I formerly mentioned that I believed infanticide to not be a possibility within the game, but now I see that it is mentioned but not demonstrated. One of the creepiest locations that takes place in the post-apocalyptic world is the Suffolk County Charter School. When one visits this area, there is an abundance of lifeless pink bodies that used to be children. Upon further investigation of the history of the school, one finds out that the dead pink corpses are a result of a government nutrition program (Martin). We are told that the government wanted to try different cafeteria food, so they replaced all of their options with pink sludge. However, this experiment failed, as the alternative sludge turned the children violent and their skin pink (Martin). It is not known whether the children fought amongst one another or were killed, but they were certainly harmed.
I think this phenome makes multiple arguments about our society in general. Firstly, it felt weird showing up to a school with a gun and having to shoot ghouls. I cannot help but feel that this is making a comment on the school shootings that have occurred in our society, more recently Sandy Hook. I was made uncomfortable by the fact that in some ways I was taking on the role of school shooter without meaning to. While it is clear that I was shooting ghouls and hot children, the perspectives of showing up to a place of learning while armed is unnerving. It is possible that the game developers wanted one to have this disturbing experience to make a statement about the danger of guns, especially in the learning environment. The other statement that I believe this location makes concerns the government’s involvement in public education and it’s (sometimes) lack of concern. The school approved the pink sludge without the consent of the faculty and members of the school. This decision that was made in spite of the students ended up hurting them and the community. This occurs in real life, where school programs and faculty are cut or changed in a manner that is detrimental to children. Many public schools often have to deal with the negative consequences of government decisions, much like Suffolk County Charter School.
I had previously heard a lot about the “Fallout” franchise yet had never come into contact with it, so I entered Fallout 4 cold turkey. Purely basing my opinion off of the cover of the game, even though you are not supposed to, I imagined this as an all-out futuristic war game akin to that … Continue reading “Infanticide is Never okay? Not even in a war-torn game.”
I had previously heard a lot about the “Fallout” franchise yet had never come into contact with it, so I entered Fallout 4 cold turkey. Purely basing my opinion off of the cover of the game, even though you are not supposed to, I imagined this as an all-out futuristic war game akin to that of Call of Duty and related games instead ,during my first thirty minutes, I did not get that experience, but this can be attributed to the “tutorial” phase of the game where one is getting used to the controls and game functions. Through my progression of the game I began to see Fallout as a basic shooter game that takes place in a wasteland (I am legend?), but the game’s intro sequences challenged my thinking.
When the game is loading up we are treated to multiple scenes that describes what is about to happen in the game, even before the game starts up. One of the sequences that caught my eye exclusively was humanity’s ability to use radioactive energy as a source for something other than destruction. In our society the word “nuclear” is often associated with negative terms and war, yet this society managed to turned this potentially harmful energy source into something productive that makes them advanced for the 21st century. I have not played any other game that chose to take this route specifically, so seeing this narrative take place was new and refreshing.
A peculiar trend that I noticed in this game that relates to societal taboos in media is the role of infanticide. There is a scene where the main character’s wife is killed but her baby is kept alive and taken away. I understand that this could follow the stereotypical “let us keep the baby so we may use it to found a new society” thinking that many entertainment villains take, but it speaks volumes about what we can and cannot accept. I think that some players would have been bothered had the game decided to cold bloodedly kill the game and take the mother away instead of what actually happened. I cannot remember the last time a baby was shot on screen. This leads me to think “does society value certain lives more than others?” This question has many implications to the black lives matter movement that is found within our society right now. Not only should we wonder if society does value certain lives over others, we should seek to question why. Why do baby lives matter more than adult lives? It is highly possible that the kidnapping of the child was purely done to play into the narrative developed in the game, but this possibility should not discourage our questions.