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.
In this log post about Shadow of the Colossus, I would like to explore the battles with Colossi. There is a gradual regression in positive feedback with each death of the Colossi. The satisfaction I felt before is disappearing, and after playing ICO it is safe to assume this is quite intentional. Since I have … Continue reading Don’t Trust the Deity →
In this log post about Shadow of the Colossus, I would like to explore the battles with Colossi. There is a gradual regression in positive feedback with each death of the Colossi. The satisfaction I felt before is disappearing, and after playing ICO it is safe to assume this is quite intentional.
Since I have never played this game before, I did not realize how easy it would be to forget about the story and skip to killing monsters. After resuming, I put the bits and pieces together to remember that I am slaying Colossi for a woman. Wander’s quest, which had me psyched when I thought about it in conjunction with the ICO quest line, became a lame motivation for my character. The gripping function that I described before, however, made me rethink how I felt about the Colossi.
For example, when I first played, I was excited about fighting large creatures and slaying monsters. But after some time away, the battles are noticeably more difficult and the victories are progressively less satisfying. After killing so many Colossi, I notice how tragic it was to end their existences. They do not seem to be doing any harm to people or the player outright. They are too far away from communities to do any real harm.
What is the objective here then? Wander attacks these beasts for the woman he presumably loves as a deity demands, but it does not feel right. This heroic slaying of Colossi feels more like a slaughter of innocent, giant creatures. Also, the dark energy that enters Wander’s body concerns me as it hearkens to the dark magic associated with Yorda’s Mother and the shadow entities from ICO. In a way, Shadow of the Colossus is warning players about illogical killing.
If Ian Bogost were using Shadow of the Colossus in his book, I think he would say this has something to do with education about mortality and taking orders. Simply put, this game is informing players not to do as an authority tells them to simply because it is an order. The Milgram experiments from my AP Psychology class is coming back, telling me to rebel against this entity. But since this is a game, I seem to have no choice if I want to progress further through the game.
2As previously mentioned, Evoland is filled with nods in the direction of old adventure games. It seems impossible to progress more than a couple minutes without getting another reference to a past game or film. And while Evoland’s story is independant of the past games and it is presented as a game that tracks histories … Continue reading “Evoland: A Salute to the Trailblazers of the Adventure Genre”
2As previously mentioned, Evoland is filled with nods in the direction of old adventure games. It seems impossible to progress more than a couple minutes without getting another reference to a past game or film. And while Evoland’s story is independant of the past games and it is presented as a game that tracks histories of role playing games, it’s character development as well as other elements of the gameplay are built on a foundation of reverence to past successful titles. Ian Bogost talks about reverence in his book “How to do Things With Videogames”, and while he mainly addresses this issue in regards to cities and monuments, it acts the same way with other videogames.
Bogost spends a lot of time within the chapter talking about the inclusion of the Manchester Cathedral in Resistance: Fall of Man. A large part of his argument is centered around how its inclusion as a key level in the game appreciates the cathedral’s relevance more than it depreciates it (27). I agree with Bogost here, as in my personal experience the inclusion of monuments or cities tends to add relevance to a certain area, rather than detract from it. Evoland acts the same way, as it adds to the lore and significance of the games mentioned, almost explicitly pointing out that Zelda or Final Fantasy set the bar for future adventure games. Another point of this is that Evoland’s narrative does not require any aspects from past games; rather they act as a compliment, calling upon the success and recognition value to supplement the story at various points.
Furthermore, this use of reverence allows Evoland to be elevated from any general adventure narrative and becomes one filled with acknowledgements of its predecessors successes in order to generate excitement within the game. For example, as someone who has played Skyrim, Evoland’s use of an otherwise stagnant character to tell Clink how he once took an arrow to the knee turned a dull moment of interaction with an NPC into a rather humorous moment, while paying homage to another successful game of the same genre. Evoland uses reverence very frequently, and to good effect. I have never come across such a game, and it a rather fitting example of just one of many things to do with video games.
In the previous Knights of Pen and Paper log, I mentioned how this mobile game is a sort of metagame in itself. My definition of metagame is similar to metatheatre where a game comments on itself or other cultural phenomena. I also brought up the Magic Circle, but there is an element of reverence that … Continue reading The Magic Circle of Reverence →
In the previous Knights of Pen and Paper log, I mentioned how this mobile game is a sort of metagame in itself. My definition of metagame is similar to metatheatre where a game comments on itself or other cultural phenomena. I also brought up the Magic Circle, but there is an element of reverence that I should discuss that explores how Knights of Pen and Paper is a metagame. The question I answer to the best of my ability is this: how does the Magic Circle and reverence combine in Knights of Pen and Paper to make a mobile metagame?
An understanding of the Magic Circle is necessary to see how this applies in Knights of Pen and Paper. The Magic Circle, as we discussed in class, comes from Johan Huizinga and his discussion of play and playgrounds (magic circles). With regard to this game, the Magic Circle is something similar to a sacred ground or ritual that gamers partake in while playing games, especially tabletop games. I thought the game would aim for a realistic story, but it seems broken as the Game Master and other characters make comments that point to the recognition of imaginary and real realms.
So how does reverence come into play? As Ian Bogost talks about reverence in his chapter “Reverance” in How to Do Things with Vidoegames, he explains how a videogame uses a church in a setting for Resistance: Fall of Man. Though people were outraged at the thought of using a real church as a setting, Bogost argues that the game shows people the significance of the church. In Knight of Pen and Paper, the game occasionally pokes fun at lame monsters or overused settings, but there is praise in its many jokes. With the little items that can be bought to customize the room, the buffs (upgrades) respond to cultural gags for those who identify as nerds.
Knights of Pen and Paper is undoubtedly a metagame. Not only does it break the Magic Circle, but it also breaks the Fourth Wall (basically the threshold separating performers and audience). And by making jokes about Dungeons and Dragons and other nerdy stereotypes, the game comments on its rules and other cultural topics. This form of metagaming expands itself to an audience that might be learning about tabletop games or to those who are veterans from the days before videogames.
I decided to go back and explore “Social Island” because it felt safe for someone like me who was still learning how to play (use the controls and understand the interface well). While I continued exploring the space ‘Social island,’ I ran into a museum of tutorials. I found this space similar to what is […]
I decided to go back and explore “Social Island” because it felt safe for someone like me who was still learning how to play (use the controls and understand the interface well). While I continued exploring the space ‘Social island,’ I ran into a museum of tutorials. I found this space similar to what is traditionally considered a museum because information was presented in a passive manner, showing what players can do in other worlds in Second Life. Tomas Brown wrote an article about the four main roles that museums can fall into within videogames: the story-driver, the social space, the political/historical device, and the identity exploration. Second Life’s museum tutorials would mostly likely fall into identity exploration. While they ensure that the player is educated about in-game mechanics, the embedded videos constantly focused on the liberty that Second Life grants its players to be and do whatever they pleased. These museum-like spaces share many characteristics of the identity role of museums in videogames, because in these spaces, the player is better informed about how the virtual world enables total control and exploration of one’s identity.
Once I felt more comfortable with the controls, I I decided to do some intentional exploration in other game maps for my last session of gameplay in Second Life. The game world is huge, and requires portals to move from map to map. When I was exploring, I discovered an activist organization that created their own world to support their cause. The world had embedded images with hyperlinks to their Facebook page and Flickr accounts. Second Life is a 3D space that allows you to do almost every ‘thing’ that Ian Bogost defines in his book, How to do Things in Videogames. In Second Life, you can take snapshots (chap 10) and people have created portfolios of their avatars in Flickr. The game is art within art (chapter 1). Players are encouraged to create and sell their own creations. There’s even worlds completely built on the idea of titillation (chapter 15) because their are objects, apparel, and worlds that fall under “adult.”
While many other videogames focus on one or two of Bogost’s “things,” Second Life intends to be a self-contained, expansive virtual environment. I did not have the time or knowledge to explore all of the world map, The infinity of freedom in this game has allowed for players to find their various niches and expand on each of Bogost’s “things.” It does a great job at replicating (and sometimes enhancing) real-life events, actions, and activities. Almost anything that can be done in real life can be done in Second Life.
Tomas Brown, “The Role of the museum in Video Games,” Play the Past, (2014). See http://www.playthepast.org/?p=4717
Ian Bogost, How to Do Things with Videogames, University of Minnesota Press (2011).