After doing research on ICO, Interactivity in Ico: Initial Involvement, Immersion, Investment by Drew Davidson caught my attention. Besides the fact that he types Ico and not ICO, Davidson’s study of the game revolves around initial involvement, immersion, and investment in the game’s narrative and mechanics. Davidson describes initial involvement as, “literally, the start of … Continue reading Understanding ICO: Davidson’s Analysis or Andrew’s Evaluation? →
After doing research on ICO, Interactivity in Ico: Initial Involvement, Immersion, Investment by Drew Davidson caught my attention. Besides the fact that he types Ico and not ICO, Davidson’s study of the game revolves around initial involvement, immersion, and investment in the game’s narrative and mechanics. Davidson describes initial involvement as, “literally, the start of the game.” Everything cinematic before the player assumes control of Ico is part of the initial involvement. This, for non-gamers, is Davidson’s academic description of a tutorial. After assuming control of Ico and protecting and walking with Yorda the first time, the tutorial or initial involvement ends.
The immersion occurs after the tutorial is finished, allowing the player to explore the environment and solve the puzzles ICO presented. This is where I begin to disagree with Davidson. Immersion and later investment is not something that should be described chronologically. As a person who studies performance, I think Davidson misses the point of the mechanics available during the initial involvement. The relationship between Ico and Yorda starts with their first successful escape. Granted these describe stages for the player’s dedication to the game, but that would be assuming that after the initial involvement that the player decides to quit (which is still likely).
I cannot say it is necessarily wrong to analyze ICO this way, but I think the emphasis on the game-like qualities undermines what ICO attempts to express artistically. With the narrative presented, it would seem more appropriate to analyze the game as if it were a film or some form of literature. The study has opened my eyes to how the investment or, “[satisfaction from] completion of the game,” plays a key role in ICO’s success, but I want to defend this game’s emotional expression.
In summary, ICO has been a pleasure to play. I use Davidson’s writing here to show how I think the study of games should be flexible depending on the game itself. As I mentioned in my second post for ICO, I respect Anita Sarkeesian’s feminist critique, and although I disagreed with her use of this game, her analysis seems more fitting than Davidson’s. And as a side note, I learned that some versions of ICO have multiplayer capabilities for someone to control Yorda, making her active and therefore more empowered than she is originally portrayed. ICO has shown me that games with compelling narratives demand adequate analysis of the story and visuals as well as its mechanics which ultimately enhance the emotions expressed.
Check out Davidson’s Analysis: http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=958723
After watching Anita Sarkeesian’s videos on the “Damsel in Distress” trope, I would like to challenge her use of ICO in some of these videos. It is important to recognize that although the game does feature something similar to the “Damsel in Distress” trope that Anita Sarkeesian describes, the appearance of said trope is justified … Continue reading Defending ICO from False Accusation →
After watching Anita Sarkeesian’s videos on the “Damsel in Distress” trope, I would like to challenge her use of ICO in some of these videos. It is important to recognize that although the game does feature something similar to the “Damsel in Distress” trope that Anita Sarkeesian describes, the appearance of said trope is justified and does not disempower Yorda.
Sarkeesian’s description of the “Damsel in Distress” explains the origin from the French phrase, “Demoiselles en Détresse,” and how it functions as, “a plot device in which a female character is placed in a perilous situation from which she cannot escape on her own and must be rescued by a male character, usually providing the core incentive or motivation for the protagonist’s quest.” Sarkeesian also explains how the female characters are either, “relatives or love interests,” which obviously provides incentive into why they should be rescued in the first place.
So does ICO exploit the “Damsel in Distress” trope? In my opinion, ICO’s use of anything resembling the trope is only part of what the game is trying to explore as a whole. Ico frees Yorda after receiving a vision of the cage, and though this is necessary to complete the game, Ico’s main quest is not to “save Yorda.” Ultimately the quest Ico and Yorda embark on can be described as “escape from the castle.” After finding Yorda’s Mother, the quest takes on a “Damsel in Distress”-like quest, but serves to illuminate their friendship. After struggling to escape, Ico goes to rescue her not as a confirmed love interest, but certainly as a valued companion.
To recap, this log post is not discrediting Sarkeesian’s argument regarding the “Damsel in Distress” trop in videogames. I agree with her accusation of game developers lacking a motivation for the protagonist using this trope in order to find substance in their game’s plot. However, when I spotted clips of ICO, I had to take a stand. Games such as Dishonored or Super Mario may use this trope in a way that drives the plot forward, but ICO uses this to explore the depth of Ico and Yorda’s relationship. Would Ico rescue Yorda in the face of her evil, shadow magic manipulating mother? Yes. And this objective reveals the heroic elements of Ico’s character rather than exhibit the problematic mindset of the game’s developer.
Sarkeesian’s awesome playlist including the “Damsel in Distress” trope can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLn4ob_5_ttEaA_vc8F3fjzE62esf9yP61
For my first game log (excluding the Portal game log), I decided to play Ico. What intrigues me about this game is that it came out before Shadow of the Colossus, a game that somehow comes up in virtually every discussion regarding “boss battles.” I found it odd that the predecessor to such a game … Continue reading Starting ICO: A Cinematic Opening with Little Dialogue →
For my first game log (excluding the Portal game log), I decided to play Ico. What intrigues me about this game is that it came out before Shadow of the Colossus, a game that somehow comes up in virtually every discussion regarding “boss battles.” I found it odd that the predecessor to such a game would seem so hidden, and I decided to play. Please keep in mind for this log and for the sequential posts regarding Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, I have been using the The ICO and Shadow of the Colossus Collection for the PlayStation 3.
First, allow me express how the beginning of this game does not feel like a game. It feels like an interactive movie. The player can control a camera, zooming in and out of focus. The lack of dialogue supports this sensation, providing details through imagery rather than excessive explanations. Also, seeing as how the control of the camera seems disconnected from Ico (the protagonist and player character), it made me wonder if I was going to enter his head space or relate to his struggle. It certainly provides a sense of helplessness as all you can do is watch what is happening.
Second, once Ico breaks out and the player assumes control of his body, the introduction to gaming mechanics confused me. I had no idea what I was doing. The button that made Ico call out (later revealed to be a call for Yorda) made me think, “Wow! There’s even a button to call for help. Should I use it if the bad guys can hear me?” But of course, I learned that the temple was abandoned… until the visions came.
I cannot emphasize enough how the lack of dialogue had me more invested in these characters than most games with dramatic cut scenes. The entire situation between Ico and Yorda (once freed) did its job in conveying a blossoming relationship between the two characters. The mechanic that allows for Ico to hold Yorda’s hand, holding R1, simulates the continuous gripping throughout the gameplay . And the couches that act as save points, items quite out of place compared to the rest of the environment, provided an excellent visual to the level of intimacy between these characters. I think Ico explores the complexities of these characters and their bond, and I would like to look further into their story.