Shadow of the Colossus: The Hamlet of Videogames

This is my final game log post in FMS 321 for my games. I could not be happier given the research I found for Shadow of the Colossus. Nick Fortugno wrote Losing Your Grip: Futility and Dramatic Necessity in Shadow of the Colossus which describes exactly what I discussed in the last Shadow of the … Continue reading Shadow of the Colossus: The Hamlet of Videogames

This is my final game log post in FMS 321 for my games. I could not be happier given the research I found for Shadow of the Colossus. Nick Fortugno wrote Losing Your Grip: Futility and Dramatic Necessity in Shadow of the Colossus which describes exactly what I discussed in the last Shadow of the Colossus log entry. Using his material, I will discuss his writing and how my experience may or may not verify his findings.

Fortugno opens with a discussion of Hamlet and its relevance in discussing videogames which means I already like where he takes his analysis. He expresses interest in agency in videogames, a topic that interest me as well. He asks, “is it true that agency invalidates the possibility of dramatic necessity? Isn’t it possible that agency in an interactive narrative can be used to create the tension between expectation and inevitable outcome?” This question blew my mind. And this applies not only to Shadow of the Colossus, but for a large majority of videogames.

As he builds up to futile interactivity, a topic I would like to address later, he hits a few points I covered in the last post. One was the tragic story of Shadow of the Colossus. After looking into the ending of the game, this game seems quite tragic for Wander. His devotion to saving the maiden, Mono, forces him to commit forbidden acts that transform his being. Though he does not die, he becomes a horned baby, echoing the cursed existence of Ico and the horned children from ICO.

“The player can control the character and is set to an implied or stated objective that appears accomplishable.  However, the scene is designed so that the goal is impossible to achieve,” according to Fortugno’s idea of futile interactivity. In tackling agency in videogames, Fortugno has described what essentially drives the tragic elements in Shadow of the Colossus and other games. They present false agency, but they cannot avoid their destiny.

It has been a joy reading about tragedy in Shadow of the Colossus. Most people describe it as an epic game where you fight monsters and try to rescue the “Damsel in Distress.” And if Anita Sarkeesian did not use Shadow of the Colossus in her videos, she missed a great chance. I do not disagree with her here. But I digress. With Fortugno’s futile interactivity in mind, a more comprehensive analysis of videogame mechanics and narrative cause a strong emotional reaction with the protagonist. The player is not watching the struggle of the protagonist, but is taking part in it and learning the inescapability of their circumstance. It speaks to what videogames can do regarding emotions and empathy, and Ian Bogost would probably support me on that.

Check out Fortugno’s piece!

http://press.etc.cmu.edu/content/shadow-colossus-nick-fortugno

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 … 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.

Shadow of the Colossus: Return of R1

Shadow of the Colossus does a fantastic job of capturing an element of realism in its game. Similar to its predecessor, ICO, Shadow of the Colossus follows the story of a male protagonist. Fortunately for this protagonist, he is not dragged into a cell, but does instead attempt to resurrect a maiden. The resurrection of … Continue reading Shadow of the Colossus: Return of R1

Shadow of the Colossus does a fantastic job of capturing an element of realism in its game. Similar to its predecessor, ICO, Shadow of the Colossus follows the story of a male protagonist. Fortunately for this protagonist, he is not dragged into a cell, but does instead attempt to resurrect a maiden. The resurrection of the maiden will be a topic in the next log post most likely, but I would like to discuss realism in Shadow of the Colossus.

Obviously the game does not represent reality since there has been no discovery of a giant bridge and hidden temple in our history, nor have the armored remains of colossal creatures been discovered (yes, dinosaurs are being excluded). In this game, magic is real and a deity communicates with the protagonist. But excluding how the setting is unrealistic, consider how this game addresses realistic elements with the human body.

The trade-off between making a game fun and realistic is hard to balance. Magic allows for the sword’s lack of realistic qualities excusable, but consider the mechanic to grip things R1. In ICO, R1 was used to hold a character’s hand and was critical in completing the game. In Shadow of the Colossus, the same button is used to grip the fur or “holdable areas” on certain landscapes and monsters’ bodies. If the player does not climb the beast, defeating the Colossuses is implausible. Combined with a sphere-like meter that gauges the energy you have to grip things, the mechanic becomes a difficult key to success. If there is no energy, there is no climbing.

Other aspects such as riding the horse and certain physics within the game apply, but these topics will most likely be addressed in later posts. I find it fascinating how the evolution from ICO to Shadow of Colossus not only makes health and safety important, but that the same mechanic used in establishing a relationship can be used in slaying monsters. Maybe there is a message about human nature or the duality of man, but until I conduct more research, I am left only with speculation.