Mechanical Opera

Video games are not like books. They do not resemble plays. Only a passing resemblence links them to television. Yet video games encompass all the elements that other, more traditional entertainment contains.

Of course, in the arcade age this was not the case. It took a lot of effort to gain any sort of attachment to your little pixelated proxy.

Effort Achieved

Effort Achieved

Of course, give it a decade or so and thisEight Bit Mario

becomes this

On second thought, this may not have been an improvement

On second thought, this may not have been an improvement

Of course, the Mario games haven’t exactly been operatic splendor. Barring the Paper Mario and Mario and Luigi series, Mario’s adventures are quite formulaic without much in way of plot.

But other series have rallied magnificantly. Whole storylines unfold, drawing you in and actually making you care for the characters.

Zergling 60242, NOOOOO!!! I can't lose you!

Zergling 60242, NOOOOO!!! I can't lose you!

Fire Emblem is a sterling example of this. One of the game mechanics is that, should anyone fall in battle, they die for good. They don’t come back with full hitpoints after the battle, but bite the dust. Given my attachment to each character and a “nobody gets left behind” mentality, this has led to me restarting a level and playing it again. And again. And again. And again. Until I get it right.

Even though modern media of this sort is considered for children and teens, it can contain a surprising amount of depth.

Not what I meant...

Not what I meant...

World of Warcraft, the kingpin MMORPG, even gets into the act. Recently, I completed a quest arc that led to an awesome cutscene… that showed the death of two great heroes… and my character had to report my side’s hero’s death to his father. Ouch.

This leads me to my next point- video games can take storytelling to levels unimagined before. With the combination of cinematic cutscenes and the fact that, in many games, your actions can have long standing ramifications, you feel more drawn in then ever before.

True, this isn’t exactly virtual reality, but with ever increasing levels of interactivity between man and machine, we may not need it.

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Published in: on October 19, 2009 at 9:04 pm  Leave a Comment  

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