#1 Posted by Branthog (7342 posts) -

Part of what defines art is its ability to move people and even change their view on the world. Movies, music, and literature have all been known to achieve this at their greatest. This isn't a discussion about games being art as that's only one aspect and not a requisite, of course. It's just a question posed as to the potential impact of a game in relation to other means.

I think we've all encountered stirring moments of intensity, heroics, sadness, and anger. It seems these are often just barely better than superficial mechanics that derive these and even the best examples are small islands in a game that is otherwise a chasm of nothing around it. The experience of these moments in games perhaps being equivalent to Head of the Class (the sit-com) while the same moments in other mediums might often be more like Lean on Me or Stand and Deliver. Constructed of so much corrugated cardboard as to be nearly meaningless.

I certainly don't recall ever encountering a game whose overall experience was not just moving, but changed my view on a subject. Shouldn't a well-constructed game absolutely have the potential to not just stir some emotion, but do so in a non-trivial (ie, movie-cliche designed to jerk tears) way? More, shouldn't there be a sure capacity for them to enlighten and provoke re-consideration of people's view on things like racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, nationalism, age, poverty and other concepts? And I discount crappy social and political flash games funded by Ospirg about clean water or clear indie-award-bait attempts. I mean full fledged retail games, like any other.

So, have you found a game capable of altering one's view on such topics? What's the closest you've come to one? Do you suppose we'll see one (or more) any time soon and what is holding us back from this? Are there developers with ideas and projects in their minds just starving for funding or is it a creative vacuum devoid of anything more involved than, say, Heavy Rain? Is the audience to blame? Or are we just in the stage of gaming that is about on-par with where movies were in the 30s and 40s? Largely over-acted and a little flat? (I know I'm stereotyping all movies from the era there, but you know what I mean -- there is a point at which movies started to evolve beyond what they were into what they - at their best - are now). Are we just stuck in the sort of "William Castle" period of gimmicks and thrills to get audiences to fill seats?

#2 Posted by Video_Game_King (35977 posts) -

Well, Earthbound changed my view on Earthbound, so does that count :P? For a more serious answer, I'd recommend checking out games like Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance (racism), Tail Concerto (also racism), and Fragile Dreams (existentialism/the nature of man).

#3 Posted by jelekeloy (456 posts) -

Bioshock was thought-provoking on a political level for me.

#4 Edited by Duckbutter (412 posts) -

I was playin some LA Noire and fuckin beastin in that shit, right? Fuckin headshots left and right. And I told the dude I was with, that I dug the game, and he was all

"I don't."

and I said "Why? What's not to like, you fuckin asshole?" and he was all

"It's hard to sympathize with any of these Crackers because my people were being treated like shit in the 40s"

My friend is Black, see? That changed my perception quite bit. Does that count?

#5 Posted by Supercancer (181 posts) -
@Branthog: That was an excellent post, sir.
 
I can't say I've played a game that has changed my view points on things, but there have been games that have impacted me emotionally.
#6 Posted by Branthog (7342 posts) -

@jelekeloy said:

Bioshock was thought-provoking on a political level for me.

I am a fan of the dystopian (especially with some retro aspect) style of fiction and Bio-Shock did a lot along those lines for me. I certainly found the end of the first one to be striking, but more of a "well, I agree with the point of this" than "whoa, this blew my mind and I think differently now" sort of way.

I wonder if it would actually be more difficult for a game - even well and intentionally crafted to do so - to sway one strongly aligned with an opposing few than other mediums.

#7 Posted by Branthog (7342 posts) -

@Duckbutter said:

I was playin some LA Noire and fuckin beastin in that shit, right? Fuckin headshots left and right. And I told the dude I was with, that I dug the game, and he was all

"I don't."

and I said "Why? What's not to like, you fuckin asshole?" and he was all

"It's hard to sympathize with any of these Crackers because my people were being treated like shit in the 40s"

My friend is Black, see? That changed my perception quite bit. Does that count?

What if the game didn't just have a moment here where someone said a racist thing and everyone playing the game says "whoa, that's weird and uncomfortable" but was built entirely around investigating some sort of racially motivated crime where you encounter all sorts of aspects of life in the 40s from the perspective of the black community? Hell, maybe you even play the wrongly accused person *and* someone who is maybe sympathetic to their cause (to act as a sort of additional resource in gathering information and moving the story forward if the accused is not free to do so much of the time)? (I know, that sounds a little like Black Like Me, but...)

#8 Posted by marlow83 (239 posts) -

Catherine sort of changed my opinion of marriage. No, I'm dead serious.

#9 Posted by Damian (1538 posts) -

The closest I've come to that was nearly going vegetarian because of Oddworld in my teens. But then I ate more pig. And now, every so often, I wonder what a Mudokon Pop would taste like.

#10 Posted by IBurningStar (2160 posts) -

Until I played Portal I wasn't thinking with portals, so that changed.

#11 Posted by Mu5hy (124 posts) -

VVVVVV changed how I look at Indie games.

#12 Posted by Duckbutter (412 posts) -

@Branthog said:

@Duckbutter said:

I was playin some LA Noire and fuckin beastin in that shit, right? Fuckin headshots left and right. And I told the dude I was with, that I dug the game, and he was all

"I don't."

and I said "Why? What's not to like, you fuckin asshole?" and he was all

"It's hard to sympathize with any of these Crackers because my people were being treated like shit in the 40s"

My friend is Black, see? That changed my perception quite bit. Does that count?

What if the game didn't just have a moment here where someone said a racist thing and everyone playing the game says "whoa, that's weird and uncomfortable" but was built entirely around investigating some sort of racially motivated crime where you encounter all sorts of aspects of life in the 40s from the perspective of the black community? Hell, maybe you even play the wrongly accused person *and* someone who is maybe sympathetic to their cause (to act as a sort of additional resource in gathering information and moving the story forward if the accused is not free to do so much of the time)? (I know, that sounds a little like Black Like Me, but...)

Huh?

#13 Posted by EuanDewar (4746 posts) -

Nope.

#14 Posted by Branthog (7342 posts) -

@Duckbutter said:

@Branthog said:

@Duckbutter said:

I was playin some LA Noire and fuckin beastin in that shit, right? Fuckin headshots left and right. And I told the dude I was with, that I dug the game, and he was all

"I don't."

and I said "Why? What's not to like, you fuckin asshole?" and he was all

"It's hard to sympathize with any of these Crackers because my people were being treated like shit in the 40s"

My friend is Black, see? That changed my perception quite bit. Does that count?

What if the game didn't just have a moment here where someone said a racist thing and everyone playing the game says "whoa, that's weird and uncomfortable" but was built entirely around investigating some sort of racially motivated crime where you encounter all sorts of aspects of life in the 40s from the perspective of the black community? Hell, maybe you even play the wrongly accused person *and* someone who is maybe sympathetic to their cause (to act as a sort of additional resource in gathering information and moving the story forward if the accused is not free to do so much of the time)? (I know, that sounds a little like Black Like Me, but...)

Huh?

Like in LA Noire, as you mentioned. The only acknowledgement of life outside of "being happy and white" is a couple of moments where someone uses a racial slur and that's the extent of it. Though, I guess, LA Noire did have the one mission that shortly involved immigrant workers.

#15 Posted by RuneseekerMireille (325 posts) -

The closest would probably my view on marriage and relationships from Catherine, I guess...

Other than that, no not really.

#16 Posted by Klei (1768 posts) -
@Mu5hy said:

VVVVVV changed how I look at Indie games.

Oddly enough, i'm one of those guys who thinks VVVV is a mess of a game. What is so good about it? No, seriously, i'm really asking.
#17 Posted by rawrsair (819 posts) -

Hm, I can't say I'd ever thought about this before so nice post.

I can't recall a game that's ever changed my views, so I'll be impressed if I come across one that does!

#18 Posted by Duckbutter (412 posts) -

@Branthog said:

@Duckbutter said:

@Branthog said:

@Duckbutter said:

I was playin some LA Noire and fuckin beastin in that shit, right? Fuckin headshots left and right. And I told the dude I was with, that I dug the game, and he was all

"I don't."

and I said "Why? What's not to like, you fuckin asshole?" and he was all

"It's hard to sympathize with any of these Crackers because my people were being treated like shit in the 40s"

My friend is Black, see? That changed my perception quite bit. Does that count?

What if the game didn't just have a moment here where someone said a racist thing and everyone playing the game says "whoa, that's weird and uncomfortable" but was built entirely around investigating some sort of racially motivated crime where you encounter all sorts of aspects of life in the 40s from the perspective of the black community? Hell, maybe you even play the wrongly accused person *and* someone who is maybe sympathetic to their cause (to act as a sort of additional resource in gathering information and moving the story forward if the accused is not free to do so much of the time)? (I know, that sounds a little like Black Like Me, but...)

Huh?

Like in LA Noire, as you mentioned. The only acknowledgement of life outside of "being happy and white" is a couple of moments where someone uses a racial slur and that's the extent of it. Though, I guess, LA Noire did have the one mission that shortly involved immigrant workers.

Ohhhhh ok. Well sir, until real filmmakers start making video games, I doubt you'll get those life-changing moments you're after. Keep your good eye on downloadable games though. That's where experimentation lives. Have you seen that Flying Dog or Man on Chair stuff on PSN? Creepy.

And don't go demanding life-changing moments from developers, brother. You think making those moments are easy to do for any artist of any kind?

i scoff. pffffft psssssh pashaw

#19 Posted by RageExpressive (50 posts) -
@Duckbutter: The original Medal of Honor up to and including Frontline (iirc) were overseen and directed by Stephen Spielberg..
#20 Edited by Irvandus (2809 posts) -

DDO taught me that not all free to play games are terrible and just want to nickel and dime you to death.
Not quite what your looking for but all I could think of.

#21 Edited by TheSeductiveMoose (3617 posts) -

Deadly Premonition changed my view on everything.

#22 Posted by mnzy (2911 posts) -

Resident Evil changed my view on Zombies.

#23 Posted by Grumbel (910 posts) -
@Klei said:
Oddly enough, i'm one of those guys who thinks VVVV is a mess of a game. What is so good about it? No, seriously, i'm really asking.
In large part the music. The whole C64 optic is also very well done and of course the gameplay is very solid. But probably most importantly: Its a 2:30h long game, it knows that it's novel game mechanic won't last forever and thanks to regular introduction of new mechanics keeps those 2:30h very entertaining and doesn't try to stretch it out with random garbage.
#24 Edited by Grumbel (910 posts) -

While games have certainly influenced me, some a lot, like Another World, that influence is mostly in my game taste and perception of what games should be, not so much about race and gender issues and what not. That aside, games I would call influential where Operation Flashpoint and especially the Resitence Add on, in that they showed war as a rather ugly mess, instead the usual heroic soldiers fighting evil terrorist and win the day propaganda stuff, in so far I prefer them over almost any war movie I have seen. The Longest Journey and Dreamfall are also very interesting in that they cover a very large area of social issues, everything from gay couples, disabilities, drug abuse, poverty, war and whatnot is somewhere in there.
 
That said, I don't think anything of those have radically changed my views, maybe more reinforced my existing ones. There aren't really very many games that tackle real world issues or at least not many that do so in a responsible manner (i.e. war is frequently used as background in FPS, but the war itself, the motivations behind it, etc. are never really addressed).
 
In defense of games however: Most movies and books aren't really that much different, at least not the big blockbuster titles.

#25 Edited by Duckbutter (412 posts) -

@RageExpressive said:

@Duckbutter: The original Medal of Honor up to and including Frontline (iirc) were overseen and directed by Stephen Spielberg..

I'll give you that. But those games were obviously this:

Game developer: "Hey Stevie B, we need input on a certain thing on Medal of Honor..."

Steven Spielberg: "Hey shut the fuck up, you, I'm trying to work on a REAL film right now, just do whatever you want."

but with tech like the face-tech in LA NOIRE, we're not far from a real filmmaker or theater director tryin his hand at a video game. Then others will follow, and I think you'll agree with that, because you're smart. And hot.

#26 Posted by Yanngc33 (4496 posts) -
@Duckbutter

@RageExpressive said:

@Duckbutter: The original Medal of Honor up to and including Frontline (iirc) were overseen and directed by Stephen Spielberg..

I'll give you that. But those games were obviously this:

Game developer: "Hey Stevie B, we need input on a certain thing on Medal of Honor..."

Steven Spielberg: "Hey shut the fuck up, you, I'm trying to work on a REAL film right now, just do whatever you want."

but with tech like the face-tech in LA NOIRE, we're not far from a real filmmaker or theater director tryin his hand at a video game. Then others will follow, and I think you'll agree with that, because you're smart. And hot.

I can't imagine Spielberg saying fuck, I bet he just says ok to everything when he doesn't give a damn.
You make a valid point, don't expect Insane to feel or really look like a del Toro film.