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Posted by supermike6

If you're having trouble finding games that don't involve shooting things, then you're obviously not looking very hard.

Posted by SoldierG654342

And yet I get the impression that if games were richer in story, you would start complaining about the Monomyth.

Edited by dabe

Gameplay & Story can be symbiotic (which some people in this thread or neglecting).

A problem I have with larger titles is their errant disconnect between the two. Marry dynamical meaning through the mechanics with a story and you're onto a winner (whereby jumping is analogous to being promoted in a job, as a simple example). If a heart can become an abstracted form of human life in Castlevania and many other games thereafter, surely developers can come up with mechanics for other purposes (representing love, monotony, working, talking et al).

Unfortunately -- unless the world caters to it, a la Warhammer -- shooting dudes constantly is pretty boring.

Anyways, to HandsomeDead, play free games on a PC made by small groups of people and read some actual gaming theory that isn't written by bog-standard "journalists".

Posted by tourgen

I think if you dug around a bit harder you might find something in games you can still enjoy.

I don't come to games for the story necessarily. I just want to figure out the gameplay puzzles and hopefully be surprised. Games that take a weird and unexpected turn delight me. It can be a crazy story twist, an oddball character, or a devious gameplay mechanic.

But yes, walking down tightly bound corridors with invisible walls and playing out scripted events with only 1 outcome, and of course the necessary headshots. BORING. BORED BORED BORED after the 2nd game I played like this. But still, a game like Gears 3 offers quite a lot in terms of Horde mode and PvP online with friends. You can just ignore the campaign.

Posted by Chop

I'm surprised you have time to even play video games anymore between all your trolling. You do it so often it seems like a full time job.

Posted by CookieMonster

That was a great read, and I found myself agreeing with a lot of your points.

I haven't been enjoying gaming as much as I used to, but the games I have enjoyed the most over the past year are Super Meat Boy and Cave Story, something slightly different to the norm. Any AAA game I bought I only played for a couple of days and then put it away. Also, my enjoyment for games, and most things in general, comes in peaks and troughs. If I'm not enjoying any game, I tend to take a long break from gaming for a while.

Posted by Cloudenvy

@Icemael said:

Your problem is very simple: you are focusing almost entirely on narrative and themes, as if nothing else could possibly elicit an emotional response.

In video games I derive pleasure first from mechanics (learning a new system, solving a tricky puzzle, dodging a tough attack pattern -- basically, overcoming challenges of different kinds), then from aesthetics (good music, gratifying sound effects, beautiful environments, cool-looking enemies -- anything that is pleasing to the eyes or the ears), and then from story. Similar things apply for most gamers. A fair amount prioritize aesthetics over mechanics, but very few put story at the top. Because of this, mechanics and aesthetics are what developers focus on evolving, while little to no development occurs in the field of video game narratives.

This does not mean that video games are banal, or that video game enthusiasts have no appreciation for storytelling. All it means that in this particular art form, other aspects take precedence. (They do this, if you haven't already figured it out, by creating stronger emotional responses. As an example: I recently overcame a particularly hard challenge in Espgaluda II, which I had been stuck at for months, and I was fucking trembling with tension, excitement and joy. No book, film or TV show has ever had a comparable effect on me.)

I pretty much agree with all of this.

Posted by SeriouslyNow

@c0l0nelp0c0rn1 said:

@EuanDewar: I stopped reading because I really like Borderlands. I don't share this person's taste, and decided that I didn't want to read any further because of it. I'm sorry if I offended anyone, I thought this was a VideoGameKing style talking-bout-games blog. Now I see that it is more of a state-of-the-union type of blog, but about video games.

Still not interested.

Yes, that's how one expands one's consciousness; by only reading material which agrees with one's tastes. SEMI COLON. Your point of view; full colon.

Posted by Dalai

I'd come up with some snarky remark right about now, but that's HandsomeDead's job.

All kidding aside, I think you should start playing games for reasons other than the story. Maybe play a game outside of the shooter genre for once... or a shooter that doesn't give a fuck about a plot if there is such a thing nowadays.

Posted by SeriouslyNow

@Cloudenvy said:

@Icemael said:

Your problem is very simple: you are focusing almost entirely on narrative and themes, as if nothing else could possibly elicit an emotional response.

In video games I derive pleasure first from mechanics (learning a new system, solving a tricky puzzle, dodging a tough attack pattern -- basically, overcoming challenges of different kinds), then from aesthetics (good music, gratifying sound effects, beautiful environments, cool-looking enemies -- anything that is pleasing to the eyes or the ears), and then from story. Similar things apply for most gamers. A fair amount prioritize aesthetics over mechanics, but very few put story at the top. Because of this, mechanics and aesthetics are what developers focus on evolving, while little to no development occurs in the field of video game narratives.

This does not mean that video games are banal, or that video game enthusiasts have no appreciation for storytelling. All it means that in this particular art form, other aspects take precedence. (They do this, if you haven't already figured it out, by creating stronger emotional responses. As an example: I recently overcame a particularly hard challenge in Espgaluda II, which I had been stuck at for months, and I was fucking trembling with tension, excitement and joy. No book, film or TV show has ever had a comparable effect on me.)

I pretty much agree with all of this.

The problem with Icemael's point of view is that allows for the same old tired mechanics over context issue to pervade. Sure, games need to be playable and to have interesting, well thought out mechanics and challenging situations to experience but they also, some would say more importantly (and I would tend to agree), need to tell great stories. When games fail to have logical or even marginally interesting character arcs or when they have interesting character arcs which aren't properly explored it kills the narrative process and thereby negates any possible nature of proper context for many people (myself included) which often kills the whole process of immersion along with the death of the narrative I was trying to follow and maintain an interest in.

Narrative is important and it's no longer good enough to say gameplay is king and just leave it at that. If gameplay is king then narrative is queen and you need both rulers in play for games to evolve past the simple experiences most are even in these supposedly enlightened times wrt gaming. It's not enough for game companies to employ famous Hollywood and TV writers to craft the fictions which spawn the worlds we play, they also need to use these writers to shape a convincing narrative path (or multiple set of paths as the case may be) which doesn't fall prey to all of the common tropes of game narrative and, rather, allows the player to become deeply entrenched in some of the deeper explorations of the narrative process which good literature, visual and aural mediums aside from games often go into in ways games rarely do.

Icemael's description of overcoming a challenge is something more akin to a sporting or testing achievement and while it certainly has its place in the game experience games need to reach beyond such rudimentary processes if they are to truly evolve and make use of the real time context of theatrics which they can technically offer.

Posted by Little_Socrates

I can't tell if you're bored of shooting dudes or just merking dudes in general. I agree that I'm totally not thrilled with merking dudes being the main mechanic of video games lately, but there's also TONS OF GAMES NOT ABOUT MERKING DUDES. There are even more games that are not about shooting dudes. I feel like you're setting yourself up for failure with the games you're following. If you're sick of shooting dudes in dank dark corridors, buy El Shaddai (well, that one's kind of about merking dudes, but in REALLY CRAZY LOCATIONS AND WITH HEADY SUBTEXT) or Driver: San Francisco instead of Gears of War 3! Buy Rayman: Origins or Silent Hill: Downpour instead of Modern Warfare 3!

Ghost Trick, de Blob 2, Child of Eden and Catherine, too, these seem like games relevant to you. If you're sick of shooting dudes, don't buy three games about shooting dudes!

Posted by Hailinel

@Little_Socrates said:

If you're sick of shooting dudes, don't buy three games about shooting dudes!

This seems like the most logical option right here.

Posted by Vinny_Says

I could make the exact same argument about movies these days. Have you watched Super 8? These days if it's not a remake it's another forgettable piece of shit yet people continue to watch and buy movies. Certain things haven't changed for thousands of years yet are still amazing every time. I think you know what I'm talking about.

Pleasure from games rarely comes from stories or narratives for me, it's overcoming a challenge by learning the game's mechanics or exploring a virtual world which I will obviously never see in my life. Take for example, and this is a game you called out, Red Dead Redemption. RDR was mostly about a dude looking for another dude, other than the finale it was a pretty unremarkable story. The reason I spent 40 hours 100%ing that game was because the world sucked me in. It was extremely well realized and had plenty to do, I enjoyed the mechanics very much. I'll never go out in the wild and stab a grizzly with a knife, but that game let me feel like a badass even if it were just for a moment.

Games don't have to be about story, just go play Skate 2 or NFS Hot Pursuit, or check out the hundreds of quirky indie games coming out you might find something good in there. If not then just go do something else than play games.

Posted by dudeglove

All the teasing and prodding on the forums now makes sense.

Online
Posted by QuistisTrepe

So the tl;dr version is that you're so brilliant and sophisticated with such exquisite tastes that the rabble produced nowadays is only enjoyed by knuckle-dragging idiots who could never rise to the levels of Your Divine Grace? Such a shame, you actually do make a couple of good points, it's just too bad that the mists emanating from your cloud of smug obscures them so much.

Edited by DonPixel

It always baffles me people looking for "dept" and "good story telling" in video games, I'm not saying is not possible but common there is Literature and Filmmaking both way a better medium for that.

I do care more about gameplay thou as some people has stated you should go look into Rock of Ages or the crazy amount of indie games at steam and xbox live.

Posted by Cslaw

@spurious: that first lecture is fascinating, thanks for the link.

Posted by Hailinel

@DonPixel said:

It always baffles me people looking for "dept" and "good story telling" in video games, I'm not saying is not possible but common there is Literature and Filmmaking both way a better medium for that.

I do care more about gameplay thou as some people has stated you should go look into Rock of Ages or the crazy amount of indie games at steam and xbox live.

There's absolutely room for good storytelling in video games. There are numerous games that actually do tell good stories.

Edited by DonPixel

@SeriouslyNow said:

The problem with Icemael's point of view is that allows for the same old tired mechanics over context issue to pervade. Sure, games need to be playable and to have interesting, well thought out mechanics and challenging situations to experience but they also, some would say more importantly (and I would tend to agree), need to tell great stories. When games fail to have logical or even marginally interesting character arcs or when they have interesting character arcs which aren't properly explored it kills the narrative process and thereby negates any possible nature of proper context for many people (myself included) which often kills the whole process of immersion along with the death of the narrative I was trying to follow and maintain an interest in.

Narrative is important and it's no longer good enough to say gameplay is king and just leave it at that. If gameplay is king then narrative is queen and you need both rulers in play for games to evolve past the simple experiences most are even in these supposedly enlightened times wrt gaming. It's not enough for game companies to employ famous Hollywood and TV writers to craft the fictions which spawn the worlds we play, they also need to use these writers to shape a convincing narrative path (or multiple set of paths as the case may be) which doesn't fall prey to all of the common tropes of game narrative and, rather, allows the player to become deeply entrenched in some of the deeper explorations of the narrative process which good literature, visual and aural mediums aside from games often go into in ways games rarely do.

Icemael's description of overcoming a challenge is something more akin to a sporting or testing achievement and while it certainly has its place in the game experience games need to reach beyond such rudimentary processes if they are to truly evolve and make use of the real time context of theatrics which they can technically offer.

I've never been "touched" by the passionate events and incredible character development and performance of Digital Puppets in video games, perhaps the tech is still not there, perhaps a human face actually acting and sharing emotions in film and teather has spoiled me, or perhaps you can pretty much summarize 95% of videogame "story arcs" in a paragraph.

but yeah I said it before and I said it again, people looking for "dept" storytelling in videogames are doing it wrong. Videogames are in the realm of "GAMES" games a good medium to create emotions by interaction such as: overcoming challenges, competition, discovery, social play etc.. In short videogames like games belongs to the realm of DOING and certainly can do some mediocre TELLING (Makarov I'm looking at you), asking for a Haruki Murakami's After Dark Psychological thriller in a video game seems to me like asking for a leaderboard in an Andrei Tarkovsky film.

Edited by Sooty

@DonPixel said:

It always baffles me people looking for "dept" and "good story telling" in video games, I'm not saying is not possible but common there is Literature and Filmmaking both way a better medium for that.

Films are not better at story telling than video games, you simply can't get across anywhere near the same amount of information in a 2 hour film as you can across a 20+ hour game.

TV shows are way better at storytelling and character building, The Wire anyone?

As for books then it really depends, the A Song of Ice & Fire series is indeed excellent at storytelling and building a world.

Posted by GreggD

@penINC said:

First: Brevity, motherfucker.

Second: Honestly, you just seem bitter. You make a few decent points here and there, but those have already been addressed by other users, and overall, this blog just seems like you trying to establish that you're better than everyone else for because you're too good for video games. I don't know why you would feel the need to do that, but that's what it reads like.

Third:

@HandsomeDead said:

Persona, maybe, in its whole tragic underbelly of how making friends and talking to girls can give you some kind of believe-in-yourself magical power but that seems more for the lonely proto-Japanese than a normal, functioning human being.

Classy.

Yeah, he just sounds like some good old-fashioned jaded gamer. None too pretty, if you ask me.

Posted by Hailinel

@GreggD said:

@penINC said:

First: Brevity, motherfucker.

Second: Honestly, you just seem bitter. You make a few decent points here and there, but those have already been addressed by other users, and overall, this blog just seems like you trying to establish that you're better than everyone else for because you're too good for video games. I don't know why you would feel the need to do that, but that's what it reads like.

Third:

@HandsomeDead said:

Persona, maybe, in its whole tragic underbelly of how making friends and talking to girls can give you some kind of believe-in-yourself magical power but that seems more for the lonely proto-Japanese than a normal, functioning human being.

Classy.

Yeah, he just sounds like some good old-fashioned jaded gamer. None too pretty, if you ask me.

I like how he tries to veil his insults behind hyperlinks. It would be cute if it weren't so mean-spirited.

Posted by PeasantAbuse

I like everything. Except some Scooby Doo game on my SNES, that game was garbage.

Posted by QuistisTrepe

@GreggD:

Nope, not pretty, just petty.

Edited by DonPixel

@Sooty said:

@DonPixel said:

It always baffles me people looking for "dept" and "good story telling" in video games, I'm not saying is not possible but common there is Literature and Filmmaking both way a better medium for that.

Films are not better at story telling than video games, you simply can't get across anywhere near the same amount of information in a 2 hour film as you can across a 20+ hour game.

TV shows are way better at storytelling and character building, The Wire anyone?

As for books then it really depends, the A Song of Ice & Fire series is indeed excellent at storytelling and building a world.

Well you know MORE CONTENT is not equal to more SUBSTANCIAL, specially if 90% of videogames story arcs can be summarized in a paragraph. Then we have movies like Tarkovsky's Solaris that last 2 and half hours but inspire way more emotions than your average videogame and revolutionize the way we perceive cinema.

Also I don't want to sound like a dick but if you think The Wire is a good example of anything other than a decent produced and entretaining tv show, perhaps you don't watch or read that much of movies and books.

Posted by TheHumanDove

Whats wrong with a canadian in intergalactic space? Also, yes, that's all that stood out for me.

Posted by GreggD

@Hailinel said:

@GreggD said:

@penINC said:

First: Brevity, motherfucker.

Second: Honestly, you just seem bitter. You make a few decent points here and there, but those have already been addressed by other users, and overall, this blog just seems like you trying to establish that you're better than everyone else for because you're too good for video games. I don't know why you would feel the need to do that, but that's what it reads like.

Third:

@HandsomeDead said:

Persona, maybe, in its whole tragic underbelly of how making friends and talking to girls can give you some kind of believe-in-yourself magical power but that seems more for the lonely proto-Japanese than a normal, functioning human being.

Classy.

Yeah, he just sounds like some good old-fashioned jaded gamer. None too pretty, if you ask me.

I like how he tries to veil his insults behind hyperlinks. It would be cute if it weren't so mean-spirited.

You know, I get that not everyone is going to be the type of person you want to talk to or associate with. Your love of Japanese games, etc. is not what should bother someone about you. It's just part of a person's interests. If I had to say you bother me at all, it would be because sometimes you can be hard to talk to on these forums. And that's not a fucking hard thing to avoid or circumvent. Sometimes, it can even lead to good conversation.

But HandsomeDead's smugness is fucking terrible. Constant sarcasm and his feeling of superiority conveyed in this blog is just so goddamned off-putting, it's almost kind of sickening. You're a good person, Hailinel, even if I do disagree with you a lot. HandsomeDead is not, for as far as I can tell.

Posted by Bobby_The_Great

This sums up your post for me. Relax, and learn to enjoy things once in a while just for the simplicity of enjoying things. I didn't think Borderlands was a great game, but I liked socializing with my friends playing it.

Edited by DonPixel

@Hailinel said:

@DonPixel said:

It always baffles me people looking for "dept" and "good story telling" in video games, I'm not saying is not possible but common there is Literature and Filmmaking both way a better medium for that.

I do care more about gameplay thou as some people has stated you should go look into Rock of Ages or the crazy amount of indie games at steam and xbox live.

There's absolutely room for good storytelling in video games. There are numerous games that actually do tell good stories.

Well I do have a schedule in my free time for books and movies, I'm sorry but Niko Bellic drama wasn't as touching as the Barden's performance in No Country for Old man, you know perhaps we still have some time to go before a digital puppet actually "delivers", anyway killing grannies in Liberty City streets still rocks!

to each it's own.

Posted by PrivateIronTFU

@Bobby_The_Great said:

Relax, and learn to enjoy things once in a while just for the simplicity of enjoying things. I didn't think Borderlands was a great game, but I liked socializing with my friends playing it.

I think this is where he runs into trouble. He doesn't have any.

Posted by TheHumanDove

"I don't like videogames. You shouldn't either, or you're simpleminded"

Cool blog. Too long though. Well, I'm off to get some headshots!

Posted by ervonymous

I'm sorry for giving this blog so many views, I just can't keep my eyes off of it.

Posted by MordeaniisChaos

While I can understand your shooter fatigue, you kinda have yourself to blame. Look at all the fucking amazing games out there that have nothing to do with shooting fools in the face. The Witcher, Dragon Age, Darksiders. All of those awesome re-imaginings of retro games like Pacman, or racing games like Forza, Blur, Dirt etc. Fighting games. Starcraft, C&C, Dawn of War II. The list goes on and on. If you have shooter fatigue, it's because you keep playing shooters, not because nothing else is available to you.

I also happen to think that shooters today are wayyyyyyyy better than shooters used to be, even last generation. Sure, Halo is awesome (and the original is still my favorite). But there is no doubt that the genre is improving significantly. Uncharted has set-pieces that make the Bay-meister weep for joy. Bulletstorm has a craziness and "gaminess" to it that set's it apart from most others of the genre. Gears of War is an incredibly refined, perfected formula, polished to a shine, and even within the series has seen significant evolution, both in presentation and themes but in gameplay as well.

@EuanDewar: Or maybe like a lot of people, he just disagrees and knows that that won't change by reading on more.

Posted by EuanDewar
@MordeaniisChaos An opinion on one game that he mentions briefly in the first paragraph is enough to Justify not reading on?

Fucking weaksauce.
Posted by TheVeteran13

I'm glad I'm so dumb and unsophisticated so I can still enjoy vidja garms

Posted by mutha3

@penINC said:

Third:

@HandsomeDead said:

Persona, maybe, in its whole tragic underbelly of how making friends and talking to girls can give you some kind of believe-in-yourself magical power but that seems more for the lonely proto-Japanese than a normal, functioning human being.

Classy.

oh man

I totally missed that.

Dissing through hyperlinking.Talk about passive-aggressive!

Posted by GreggD

@TheVeteran13 said:

I'm glad I'm so dumb and unsophisticated so I can still enjoy vidja garms

Maybe some day you'll be smart enough to become a gams jarnolologist.

Posted by the_OFFICIAL_jAPanese_teaBAG
@GreggD said:

@TheVeteran13 said:

I'm glad I'm so dumb and unsophisticated so I can still enjoy vidja garms

Maybe some day you'll be smart enough to become a gams jarnolologist.

oar clevr foarm poaster.  
 
no but in all seriousness I enjoyed this read HD.  There are a lot of games that arent shooters.  Im starting to get modern shooter fatigue but I honestly dont mind games like Fallout 3
Posted by Icemael
@SeriouslyNow: I think such evolution will (and must) come not from advances in storytelling, but rather from advances in mechanics with which players can engage in story-creation, i.e. role-playing (this, by the way, will result in the eradication of the "mechanics over context issue", as a game's world and characters will directly affect the mechanical experience and vice versa). I also think this evolution is many years -- decades, even -- away, as massive progress in fields like artificial intelligence and control method will be necessary before video game role-playing can become truly sophisticated.
Edited by DonPixel

@Icemael said:

@SeriouslyNow: I think such evolution will (and must) come not from advances in storytelling, but rather from advances in mechanics with which players can engage in story-creation, i.e. role-playing (this, by the way, will result in the eradication of the "mechanics over context issue", as a game's world and characters will directly affect the mechanical experience and vice versa). I also think this evolution is many years -- decades, even -- away, as massive progress in fields like artificial intelligence and control method will be necessary before video game role-playing can become truly sophisticated.

Exactly we still have a way to go, people talk like if doing videogames were an easy thing with a safe and low invest budget with sure and high return. Baffles me how people talk like if studios don't want to do good stories and good games, the tech is still not there and I don't mind visual tech, the crafting tools still have a way to go, AI, Physic, faster production of assets, easier engines to work on etc.. ..

Posted by Oldirtybearon

Borderlands is boring with three friends?

Oh right, the keyword there is friends.

Posted by dabe

@DonPixel said:

@Sooty said:

@DonPixel said:

It always baffles me people looking for "dept" and "good story telling" in video games, I'm not saying is not possible but common there is Literature and Filmmaking both way a better medium for that.

Films are not better at story telling than video games, you simply can't get across anywhere near the same amount of information in a 2 hour film as you can across a 20+ hour game.

TV shows are way better at storytelling and character building, The Wire anyone?

As for books then it really depends, the A Song of Ice & Fire series is indeed excellent at storytelling and building a world.

Well you know MORE CONTENT is not equal to more SUBSTANCIAL, specially if 90% of videogames story arcs can be summarized in a paragraph. Then we have movies like Tarkovsky's Solaris that last 2 and half hours but inspire way more emotions than your average videogame and revolutionize the way we perceive cinema.

Also I don't want to sound like a dick but if you think The Wire is a good example of anything other than a decent produced and entretaining tv show, perhaps you don't watch or read that much of movies and books.

While I'm a huge fan of Lem's Solaris (The filmic versions are decent but not awe-inspiring), I take umbrage with your assumption that books/films/other media can't be distilled into a paragraph. Hopefully you can see my point, that conveniencing any overall plot into a paragraph doesn't do justice to any of the nuances, regardless of medium or type of story.

Anyways, as for your points about "dept" stories in video games -- whatever the fuck that made up word means, I'm guessing you mean deep or depth? -- I'd like to believe a happy medium between the mechanics and the story can exist. Not only that but story/themes & narrative can all be influenced by the gameplay and they aren't wholly seperate (or at least can be treated as such). Not to protract this any further, I'll just state that we shouldn't relegate games from having halfway decent stories just because books/films are already institutionalised and have a narrative pedigree. This is short sighted and doesn't fully appreciate the interactive nature and potential of this medium in my opinion.

Posted by Cloudenvy

@KingWilly said:

Borderlands is boring with three friends?

Oh right, the keyword there is friends.

I played Borderlands with three friends and still thought it was awfully boring. : )

Posted by DriveupLife

long blog is long.

Posted by Elusionar

@HandsomeDead said:

It’s been a long while since I’ve been into video games. Following the discontented winter of 2008 which had the Dead Space/World at War/Prince of Persia fiasco; a triple bill that really made me wonder if I should be spending so much time and energy on this hobby, there was the Mass Effect 2/Alan Wake/Red Dead Redemption trifecta a few years later which affirmed that the answer is no; since then, all I’ve played are a few ill thought out Christmas presents, had a whale of a time knocking out Portal 2 when my roommate was at class and then immediately regretted my decision to try out some games again when we endured a marathon session of Borderlands. More like Boringlands. Pause for laughter.

I do still keep up. I’m trying to make myself not regret the decade-plus of regularly buying games. I’m capping it off with a shiny new Xbox to finish the franchises I’m invested in this coming winter and giving myself closure, but between now and then, I spent a lot of time watching games: Let’s Plays, Retsupuraes and Quick Looks, not feeling like I’m actually missing anything without a controller in my hand and only yesterday, talking to my friend about Modern Warfare 3 did I have the stark realisation that I don’t think I understand the mentality of video games.

Specifically, it was the line ‘You’re the only person I’ve know who gives a shit about what will happen to Makarov. I just want to shoot dickheads online again.’ Both clauses in there made me wonder about the mentality of the gamer itself. I got my N64 in 1998 and, like everyone, I played a load of GoldenEye. As Alec Trevelyn, I shot all kinds of MI5, Janus, SPECTRE agents alongside a poor facsimile of my personal fetish fuel Xenia Onatopp in the head with all kinds of pistols, shotguns and so forth. I played a few levels of single player too; I didn’t own the game and only borrowed it for a weekend or two so I didn’t progress too far - I was pretty young at the time - but I really enjoyed running from A to B in dank corridors shooting Russians in the head with all kinds of pistols, shotguns and so forth.

Like a lot of you, I got into games around the time of the 3D arrival and I could always look in my latest issue of Gamesmaster and see the upcoming releases and future generations, see the mark up in visual quality and think to myself that everything was getting better and better. The leap in fidelity between 16, 32, 64 and 128 bit was so startling every time that it caught my attention and it always kept me interested. Instead of being Mario running from left to right, I was Mario running laissez faire; instead of merking guys from overhead, I was merking them in full 3D and listening to the music from Scarface. But then around the time of the Xbox 360, I found myself thinking that I’ve already done this.

I’m sure there’s plenty of people out there who have my same concern, but I turn to the Giantbomb forums, as I’ve been known to do, looking for an asp to make fun of, and I see people paraphrasing my friend who just wants to shoot dickheads and I can not fathom how you haven’t had enough. I shot guys in the head in GoldenEye, I did it in Halo, I did it in Snore-derlands; Three generations of going from A to B in dank corridors and shooting guys in the head. First person, third person; modern, future; online, offline. It’s all the same.

With everything else I like, there’s a timeline that I can trace. My purchase of Limp Bizkit’s Chocolate Starfish and the Hotdog Flavoured Water when I was 12 was the jump off point that got me to sitting here, typing this, and listening to Anjunabeats Volume 8. It’s a twisty and turny set of connections, but I can look back and appreciate that, as shitty as that album was, it got me interested in music to the point of where I am now. I can go from seeing Peter Pan aged 3 to seeing Les Petits Mouchoirs aged 22. I can even follow the ups and downs of pro wrestling eventually leading me to the Bell Centre in the coolest city in the world, cheering on GSP last december. I look at my video game collection and, in comparison, I’ve taken a baby step.

The reason I almost entirely gave up on games after I played Mass Effect 2, Alan Wake and Red Dead Redemption is that you have the stories of a Canadian on an intergalactic adventure, a depressed writer busting ghosts to rescue his wife and a cowboy tracking an old ally across the wicky-wicky-wild wild west to settle an old score and in order to do all these things, to settle every one of these conflicts, I shot people till there was no one left. Everything might look nicer, but nothing else has changed in about 15 years. How do you people do it? How is that not a sign that maybe you should give something else a shot instead? Are you that easily entertained? Look elsewhere you cry. To where I ask. If I don’t want to simulate a sport, I can’t see many options. This weeks new releases, that I can play, are going from A to B shooting stuff, going from A to B shooting stuff, going from A to B shooting/hacking at stuff, driving from A to B shooting stuff; each one described in their respective reviews and previews as being ridiculous but not having much of a fiction.

It’s easy enough to blame you guys. You’re the one coughing up $60 a go to ostensibly repeat the same process you just spent $60 to do but there’s another side to this equation. One that perplexes me just as much as wondering why you guys play this stuff; why do those guys make this stuff? It’s something I’d been thinking for a while, but it really came to a head when I sat there and watched the Hard Reset Quick Look. My first thought was ‘What kind of idiot actively wants to play this?’ but that eventually turned to ‘What kind of idiot actively wants to make this?’

I can sit here and lament the total lack of auteurism in video games all day long, but were this game developed by just one guy, I could understand but when it’s a team of people all coming together to spend thousands and thousands of euros on a project, how does a committee come together to agree on something as bland and second hand as yet another FPS with no character, personality or depth besides for looking a bit like Blade Runner and invoking something John Romero did literally decades ago? How do they think this is a good idea? And why didn't they want to do something unique to them instead of expensive hack work? I’ll never play it, never want to play it and you can tell me it’s a load of fun running around, shooting things with brightly coloured guns and I’ll quip something like ‘Yeah, I know. I played Halo’ or definitely something better but, even so, the total lack of ambition this displays is so pervasive that I cant help but feel like a sucker for ever giving money to this business.

The one that really sticks with me is Capcom and their treatment of Resident Evil. Sure, Resident Evil 5 was garbage and, yeah, Resident Evil 6 will appear by 2013 with a clone of Wesker and we’ll all shoot not-quite zombies as they run at you, then walk, giving you enough time to shoot them while you stand in place all over again. I can accept that because I can accept that video games, particularly of Japanese origin, are a business ran on enticing the lowest common denominator. I can even accept that I got sucked into a shitty mythos because, at the time, it was pretty much the only franchise that actually had one. What bothers me is the obvious fact that no one at Capcom gives any kind of shit about the quality of the material they produce.

Much like the progression I detailed earlier, the gap between each succeeding Resident Evil game was just large enough to convince by 8 to 15 year old self that each game was bigger and better than the last, but when the finale arrived, it was 2009 and not only was the game a piece of shit, it retroactively made the earlier games shit too - shitter than they actually are, which is really shit. MGS4 managed to at least make an effort at tying all the strings back together for a satisfying finale. After games upon games of Solid Snake and Revolver Ocelot revolving like a helix around the events of that franchise, giving them one last sunset was awesome. Conflict that with blowing up Wesker in a volcano after 50% more games with no real rhyme or reason and you’ve just failed an entire generation of people who played it. No one at Capcom knows how to tell a story and I payed hundreds of pounds to find that out.

Please, call me naive as much as you want. I am the idiot for trying to justify my money. I am the idiot for wanting some drama in my investments. I am the idiot who wants to be entertained on a higher level than just shooting zombies again. I am the idiot who thought that maybe there was a direction to the whole thing. I am the idiot who saw a good face/heel dynamic in the straight laced Chris Redfield and the theatrical Albert Wesker. I am the idiot who thought at least one person employed by Capcom’s creative department was actually creative. I am the idiot who thought at least one person in Capcom’s creative department could tell a simple story. I am the idiot who liked Resident Evil, but you’re the idiot who will buy Resident Evil 6 and say ‘Well, all I wanted to do was shoot zombies and that’s what it did. 10/10.’

It’s not just constrained to Capcom and it’s murky schoolgirl-fucking tentacles that have spread to other parts of the world. It’s not even just Japan. It may be worse there than in American and European games development, but it seems like no company in video games has any higher aspiration than making something for a 14 year old boy. You can throw BioShock - a game that’s half a decade old - at me here but above it’s lethargic and totally average shooting mechanics is only a strawman response to Ayn Rand, an author you probably have never actually read, which probably explains the high praise. Then there’s maybe, what? I’m genuinely struggling to think of anything to actually counter my own argument. Persona, maybe, in its whole tragic underbelly of how making friends and talking to girls can give you some kind of believe-in-yourself magical power but that seems more for the lonely proto-Japanese than a normal, functioning human being.

John le Carré’s Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy just got released as a movie. It’s fantastic. In the 70s, it was a TV show. It’s fantastic. It’s all based on the book. I haven’t read it yet but my granddad assured me it’s fantastic. You could probably turn it into a graphic novel; shit, you could probably turn it into a wrestling storyline along the lines of some kind of Corporate Ministry thing with the discovery of the higher power but you could not turn it into a video game. Imagine how good it would be to play as George Smiley, working your way through a seedy world of international political intrigue. Well, keep imagining because there’s neither an audience nor an auteur who would bring it together. Could you imagine playing a game on your Xbox 360 or PS3 that didn’t involve shooting anyone and has an actual sense of player agency? I can’t. There was a time when I was told video games were interactive entertainment but when the only form of said agency is a binary on/off, I’m more convinced that Schindler’s List is a colour film because of that girl in the red coat.

The two big whys are the main reason why I still knock about the site. The Bombcast is fun but the actual talk about games is secondary and I can bait people on other sites, not as easily but whatever, the crux of my posting and perusing is to find answers. There’s a real passion people have for games but it’s absolutely alien to me. Off the top of my head, I can pick a solid list of books, movies and TV shows from this year alone that have made me laugh, cry, just think and/or generally appreciate their respective medium; an emotional response. Outside of the single line ‘Snake had a hard life’, there is no video game that’s made me shed a tear, I can’t even think of a game that’s intentionally made me laugh, Modern Warfare and Gears are thrilling and dramatic at points but after that, I’m done. How do you get passionate about this banal hobby? How do they get so passionate about making such bland products? What is it I’m missing here?

P.S. Before you call me out, I'm intending on writing wrap up blogs for Gears of War, Modern Warfare and Mass Effect once all threequels are out. See you then.

The answer is 42.

Edited by Sooty

@DonPixel said:

@Sooty said:

@DonPixel said:

It always baffles me people looking for "dept" and "good story telling" in video games, I'm not saying is not possible but common there is Literature and Filmmaking both way a better medium for that.

Films are not better at story telling than video games, you simply can't get across anywhere near the same amount of information in a 2 hour film as you can across a 20+ hour game.

TV shows are way better at storytelling and character building, The Wire anyone?

As for books then it really depends, the A Song of Ice & Fire series is indeed excellent at storytelling and building a world.

Well you know MORE CONTENT is not equal to more SUBSTANCIAL, specially if 90% of videogames story arcs can be summarized in a paragraph. Then we have movies like Tarkovsky's Solaris that last 2 and half hours but inspire way more emotions than your average videogame and revolutionize the way we perceive cinema.

Also I don't want to sound like a dick but if you think The Wire is a good example of anything other than a decent produced and entretaining tv show, perhaps you don't watch or read that much of movies and books.

Yes I know more content does not equal more substantial storytelling or character development. I thought that much was pretty obvious.

I don't want to sound like a dick but if you don't think The Wire is an excellent example of superb storytelling and character development maybe you didn't pay attention while you was watching it.

TV shows have way, way, way more time to develop their characters, I don't really see an argument here, each episode of The Wire was around 50 minutes long and it went through 5 seasons, how can a movie compete with that? It can't. There's only so much you can cram into a 2 hour movie, it's not to say movies don't have good story telling or can't have deep characters but a well written TV show will totally eclipse them.

and I've watched plenty of movies over the years and continue to do so, as for books then yeah I've not read that many, on book 4 of A Song of Ice & Fire right now.

Books are totally different, unlike movies they do have the luxury of time to really flesh out their characters and provide ample backstory. Again I'm not saying movies can't have deep characters, they can certainly show a character has depth but they never have time to fully explore it. +1 for books and TV shows.

Posted by TheGreatGuero

I can't fully agree with you. I think a lot of people feel that video games have become oversaturated with shooting games and violence. Perhaps that's unknowingly why I haven't really touched my 360 in months (I can't believe it myself, but I just haven't turned it on for most of the summer). Maybe that's why I went back to playing games like Animal Crossing (Gamecube), or why I picked up Nintendogs + Cats. I can't so easily point fingers. I loved Red Dead, and Dead Space. I thought Prince of Persia (2008) was really nice, despite the fact that it's so heavy on the hand-holding. I'm not a big fan when games just force me to shoot to kill all enemies. LA Noire works like that, and considering you play as a cop, I was really annoyed by that since it lacks creativity and doesn't allow you to think outside of the box to take down enemies or handle hostage situations. I thoroughly loved Fallout 3, though I feel there was so much more to it than just killing everybody.

I suppose there's certainly a lack of creativity in games today, though I do think some manage to bring new things to the table, but frequently we just play repackaged "bigger and better" sequels. Maybe that's why I have little interest in Gears of War 3. I'm reaching a point where I feel like I can be doing something better with my time than wasting away hours with a game. I'd like to see all the endings in Mortal Kombat, but for what? It takes too much time to invest, when I can more easily just look them up online. I want to finally complete Fallout 3, and then replay it as a bad guy, though considering the pace at which I've played it, I know I'll be working on it for easily a year. That's discouraging to me. Plus there's New Vegas. Do I really want to do it all again with New Vegas? Oh man, and then there's all the DLC.

Maybe I'm losing interest too. I traded in my DSi for a 3DS. Seemed like a good idea considering there's a lot of good looking games coming to the 3DS that I'm hoping to play. Then again, I hardly played any games on my DSi, and used it mainly for the camera. Considering it seemed the 3DS did everything the DSi does and more, and is their next console, I went for it. Though, turns out the camera isn't upgraded (LAME!) and has some problems and there's less you can do with it. The 3D without glasses seemed cool, but it's not really even 3D. It just stretches the images to create the illusion of depth. I've never been too big on 3D anyway, but yeah, this just hurts my eyes. I always play with it off. Not to mention that awful thumbstick which creates death-cramps for your thumb almost instantly. I got 2 games for it. Ocarina of Time 3D, which just really makes me want to dust off my N64 and play the real thing instead, and Nintendogs + Cats (while I never even played the original, I can tell already this is just a rehash of the last version with minimal upgrades and it kind of sucks, to be honest). What do I have to look forward to this fall? One of my all-time favorite games, Star Fox 64, being butchered with new voice work and new visuals, that will just make me long for the original. Gears of War 3? I'll probably play it just to see how the story wraps up. I found the story with Dom's wife to be pretty touching in Gears 2, at least. What else is there? Mario Land 3D? Could be cool, but it's just more 3D Mario. Animal Crossing 3D? I've spent so much time playing the GC version, I don't like the idea of starting over in a new game with nothing, plus the 2 sequels weren't nearly as good as the original, so this one probably won't be either. Skyward Sword looks interesting, I suppose. I still can't say I'm all that excited about it, especially after Twilight Princess, but I'll give it a shot. Finally trying out Motion Plus could be cool, though I'm sure it'll just disappoint me by making me feel like it's how the Wii should have worked all along.

It's like that's all we have to look forward to as gamers anymore. Rehashes, sequels, pretty much just more of the game with slightly better graphics. Man! Looks like I'm just as burnt out on games as you are afterall. Maybe that's why I've recently fallen in love with Screened. Maybe I just need a break, or maybe like you, I'm getting too old for this shit.

Edited by drag

@HandsomeDead: Nicely said, probably the first time I've ever agreed with anything you've written. Well, somewhat. The general idea anyway.

I talked a little bit about auteurs in my review of Bastion. Or rather, a short response to some article I read years ago suggesting we need more of them in the industry. Not sure I agree, certainly not in Bastion's case when it's obviously such a collaborative effort and everyone on the team understood the 'vision' of the game and poured their heart into it. There's a recommendation for you anyway ... though admittedly I was more just contented than exceptionally impressed until I finished it the 2nd time. (Link if you're interested - http://www.playdar.co.uk/review/bastion.php) Pretty bloated but whatever.

Obviously at higher levels, for bigger budget games it becomes more difficult for every single person involved to be creatively and personally invested in the outcome. But it also becomes more difficult for any auteur figure to push their vision through the technical quagmire and publishing bullshit. I guess I'd like to see them try - I see little passion in big releases currently - but perhaps the process of making a game on that scale is just too complex and too opaque for anyone to ever really succeed.

Edited by DonPixel

@dabe said:

Anyways, as for your points about "dept" stories in video games -- whatever the fuck that made up word means, I'm guessing you mean deep or depth? -- I'd like to believe a happy medium between the mechanics and the story can exist. Not only that but story/themes & narrative can all be influenced by the gameplay and they aren't wholly seperate (or at least can be treated as such). Not to protract this any further, I'll just state that we shouldn't relegate games from having halfway decent stories just because books/films are already institutionalised and have a narrative pedigree. This is short sighted and doesn't fully appreciate the interactive nature and potential of this medium in my opinion.

I don't know why you infered so much, but I never stated that. Fact remains the tech is still not there to develop that of "rich" of a storytelling in videogames, understanding the medium and it's current reach would lead to a better "analysis" and would lesser our expectations leading the creative effort in less pretentious less anoying chore games such as LA Noire.

In short I do agree a good story can be told in many ways and by different media, the boundaries are diferrent thou. This discussion comes down to OPs original post that seems to have not played other than COD games and complaining about the lack of interesting stories. There's not being a better time to videogames than now, just look at the steam, xboxlive, indie, free to play, etc.. games out there. People mostly want a "cinematic" experience out of videogames which seems to me like a lassy complacient way to explore any medium for deep and meaningfull experiences.

And yeah typo deep not dept, I'm glad you made it trought there thou.

Posted by Cloudenvy

@TheGreatGuero said:

It's like that's all we have to look forward to as gamers anymore. Rehashes, sequels, pretty much just more of the game with slightly better graphics.

Not true at all : )