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.
Glados, the machine fans of Portal know and… do not really love, has been with the player since the beginning of the game. And yet she is an enigma. And of course she became more complicated after our class brought up the idea that she might be the environment and not a character. True she feels … Continue reading “The Glados Dilemma”
Glados, the machine fans of Portal know and… do not really love, has been with the player since the beginning of the game. And yet she is an enigma. And of course she became more complicated after our class brought up the idea that she might be the environment and not a character. True she feels like a character, but she is hardwired into the mise en scène of the game. As I played Portal, my mind began its quest to solving the Glados dilemma, generating ideas that will hopefully quell debates on the subject.
Most people think of Glados as a character considering how she has all the dialogue Chell clearly lacks. As an aspiring writer, I noticed that she has qualities writing instructors discuss in outlining characters. Although her origin story is unknown, it still exists and affects her behavior in Portal. Glados has an objective to kill Chell, and possibly a super objective that guides her actions in the plot of Portal. Also, she something that resembles a body at the end of the game. As a character, she has an origin, an objective that motivates her actions, and a body of sorts. All in all, the argument for Glados being a character seems fairly air-tight.
Or does it? Glados is a super computer linked into every part of the Aperture Science testing facility. In a way, she is the Aperture Science testing facility. And as Henry Jenkins discussed in his article “Game Design as Narrative Architecture,” game designers focus heavily the construction of the game’s levels. The commentary from the game designers of Portal within the Bonus Levels do not discuss character design, they discuss game mechanics and level design. Glados, controlling the environment of the game, providing a majority of the plot in the game, sounds more like mise en scène of Portal, and less like a non-player character.
So is Glados a character or the name of Portal‘s mise en scène? The way I see it, if the people who created Portal poured energy into both Glados as a character and as the set, I do not see why she cannot be both. I would also say that Glados is something no novel or movie could properly portray. Video games are the perfect medium for the enigmatic Glados, and similar entities in games will secure a place for video games in narratology.