#1 Posted by supermariobrah (51 posts) -

Something I noticed a lot in games is a lacking sense of humanity, mostly due to a recognition of events seemingly not mulled over or reacted to by characters in the game.  I was playing Uncharted again, something I noted in another board, and I really enjoyed the game a lot as well as its sequel.  What struck me as odd is that the main character Nathan Drake didn't strike me as a killer, yet the majority of the game is spent shooting copious amounts of people for an alleged fortune that could be made.  There is no reaction to it, no show of emotion or anything when it came to killing the enemy.  I can see if a character like Kratos or Master Chief show little negative emotion when it comes to killing, Kratos seems to enjoy it and characters like MC or Gordon Freeman are doing it more out of necessity than anything else.  The only games of late that seem to contemplate the destructive nature of its characters are Heavy Rain when certain characters have the ultimatum to kill or not and Metal Gear Solid 4 where war and what it meant emotionally to those involved was examined.  Even Brothers in Arms, a series I love for its attempt at bringing emotion to the battlefield, contemplated issues of death and the failure to protect those you care about within a fps environment.  What does everyone else think on the lack of even a shred of humanity in most games? Should the player contemplate their actions while the characters contemplate it within the game? Or is it more "Who cares, they aren't real people and that's just how you play the damn game"?

#2 Posted by SuperfluousMoniker (2907 posts) -

Well, think of it this way. How many action movies have you seen where the characters got wistful about all the nameless minions they killed? Video games aren't novels; it's hard to balance introspection and crises of conscience while keeping the action moving.

#3 Posted by Jeust (10482 posts) -
@SuperfluousMoniker said:
" Well, think of it this way. How many action movies have you seen where the characters got wistful about all the nameless minions they killed? Video games aren't novels; it's hard to balance introspection and crises of conscience while keeping the action moving. "
Not talking how 95% of the games feature violence. 
#4 Posted by mrfizzy (1523 posts) -

I spose you have a valid point but if your going to start commenting on game realism i think there are more obvious things to target than character's emotional responses to their actions. Like the fact that Nathan Drake can take multiple bullets with little effect to his health.   

#5 Posted by StaticFalconar (4849 posts) -

  

#6 Posted by blackbird415 (777 posts) -

Itss still a developing art to create true emotive characters. Theres still alot of experimentation as to animate emotion. In the mean time they have to make up for the shortcomings that are still present in this medium with the action movie esc. persona. Even games like metal gear while very good at the drama and do help push the limits of these shortcomings, still have some over the top portions of the game. Games such as L.A. noir are playing with new technologies for emotive characters. If animation technology can get to a point of reliable emotive tech then mroe games can be dramatic. Even then there has to be some other way to compensate for less gameplay action.
 
Making games if fucking hard. Theres just so many friggin things to consider.

#7 Posted by supermariobrah (51 posts) -
@mrfizzy: This is a valid point, but making a game realistic to a fault isn't a good thing either.  I don't mean just how games play, I wouldn't have mentioned fantasy games such as God of War or Halo if I wanted to make a point regarding realism.  My issue regarding humanity in games is that so many developers want to create better narratives within their games but often omit the contemplation of the action of the characters within the game.  Max Payne, for example, is driven by revenge in the narrative of the first game which is an understandable desire for his character given that his family was murdered by a bunch of junkies.  He goes after the people he believes are responsible for supplying the drugs, the mob, and regardless of how ridiculous the game is in terms of game play with slow motion and loading up on pain killers it is still representative of the world the character lives in.  Dream sequences such as the one where he is following blood trails and the crying of his dead child represent a character that has been affected by tragedy, not simply a haphazard product of it.  Uncharted on the other hand has a character that is very easy to like in Nathan Drake, but also one that kills countless people for treasure at least in the beginning of the game.  You could argue that they are motivated by trying to save the world, but in the first game they don't even know how dangerous the item they are hunting down is until near the end.  It isn't just about realism, it's about creating narratives and characters that react to the world in which they exist regardless of how real or fantastic it may be.
#8 Posted by SethPhotopoulos (5122 posts) -

Maybe its because they are shooting at him, trying to kill him and he has done it before.  A lot in fact.  Indiana Jones was the same.

#9 Posted by SethPhotopoulos (5122 posts) -
@mrfizzy said:
"Like the fact that Nathan Drake can take multiple bullets with little effect to his health.    "
I never considered that part of a games story unless it's in a cutscene seeing as how you would have to count the character dying multiple times, doing stupid shit like humping a dead body, standing in the middle of a burning building for 20 minutes where all the other characters in your group/party sit there waiting not saying a word.  
 
Some games use that as a part of their story like Assassin's Creed where its a synchronization level or nis america games where they constantly break the fourth wall but for the most part I think those things are ignored and canonically they made it through as injured as the plot says they are.
#10 Posted by JasonR86 (9611 posts) -

I think for games like Uncharted you need to do a little 'suspension of disbelief'.  He also was shot multiple times and didn't die yet, in some cutscenes, some characters died in one shot (or, in some cases, stab).

#11 Posted by ImmortalSaiyan (4676 posts) -

When playing games I try not to focus on things like that. Video Games require you to suspend disbelief and keep the logic of the gameplay and narritive seperate. I agree though, the nature of video games being a interactive medium makes it hard to create a compelling story.
#12 Posted by Icil (727 posts) -

To me, it's more like if you didn't feel anything when doing some sort of in-game action, it's because you weren't supposed to. The director in a movie can make a death tragic using his various moviemaking tools, and the same goes for games. 
 
For example, I was really sad to have to take out Wrex. Once you realize you have to kill that guy (sans good enough charisma), it kind of puts more weight on your dialog choices (did anyone else fully level up their charm/intimidate skill after failing the Wrex scene?). 
 
Morrowind really made me think about who I let live and die, too.

#13 Edited by Enigma777 (6057 posts) -
@supermariobrah: Uh... people are the only animal that kill their own species in a systematic way. I think that games are an excellent portrayal of our humanity.
#14 Posted by face15 (1284 posts) -
@SuperfluousMoniker said:
" Well, think of it this way. How many action movies have you seen where the characters got wistful about all the nameless minions they killed? Video games aren't novels; it's hard to balance introspection and crises of conscience while keeping the action moving. "
This, exactly. 
Games need to have action (which usually means violence) to maintain interest for 10-25 hours, and like action movies emotional resonance and deep psychology don't really fit into the framework of these games. 
Online
#15 Posted by supermariobrah (51 posts) -
@SethPhotopoulos: I understand that this is the mechanics of the game and that it is like Indiana Jones in its adventurous story.  I am merely using it as an example of when the characters that we like do not exude human qualities, except greed in this case.  I love the Uncharted games, they are fun and have enjoyable stories and all.  I am stating that is so many developers want to further game narrative they may want to look past the simple "That is what the character does" mentality.  There is a Vietnam film called the Green Berets with John Wayne where he goes to Vietnam and kicks all sorts of ass and then the movie ends.  Then take a film like Apocalypse Now which examine war like Nietzche's "Beyond Good and Evil" where its not about kicking ass but about what it takes to survive in the madness of war amongst many other issues.  These films are about the same conflict, but have very different takes and one is pretty much going to unanimously be considered a better film.  Now, a game where you float down a river for most of the play time would probably considered boring by most or awesome to the right people, but ultimately wouldn't work that well as a game as most people tend to enjoy them.  However, extracting human qualities and putting them in a game regardless of the genre would be a welcome addition, at least I believe it would be.  Uncharted is a great adventure.  Does it need to try to reach some sort of philosophical or contemplative conclusion?  Of course not.  Should developers try to add a sense of human emotion rather than its awesome to blow stuff up to their characters in order improve the stories and characters?  I believe it could prove to be a great improvement.

#16 Posted by Animasta (14650 posts) -

you should try Nier because maybe it doesn't make the character not want to kill all those things, it sure makes you not want to.

#17 Posted by themangalist (1726 posts) -
@ImmortalSaiyan said:
" When playing games I try not to focus on things like that. Video Games require you to suspend disbelief and keep the logic of the gameplay and narritive seperate. I agree though, the nature of video games being a interactive medium makes it hard to create a compelling story. "
I applaud this comment .
#18 Posted by Bogitt (201 posts) -

When the protaganist starts doing that kind of stuff it can come of as kind of whiny, that kills my affection for the character pretty quickly. If it is done well then sure it's great but if not.... urgh.

#19 Posted by Grumbel (910 posts) -
@blackbird415 said:
Theres still alot of experimentation as to animate emotion.
The problem isn't animation, but simply that most developers don't even try. If you make a game that consists of casually shooting a few hundred humans over the course of the game, no matter the tech, your story and emotional response will turn out kind of crap as the premise already put you into an unfixable situation. Make game that doesn't put the player into the role of a mass murder and there might be an interesting story to tell, even if the tech is ten years old.
#20 Posted by SethPhotopoulos (5122 posts) -
@supermariobrah: I think there needs to be a generation or 2 before we get to that point, movies took a while.
#21 Posted by HarlequinRiot (1098 posts) -

It's something I've thought about but like people have said, it's just hard to do. I've always thought it would be a neat thing for a game to do something like a freeze frame after the character kills his first enemy and dive into a short exposition about who the person he killed really was and what the main character's thoughts are. I always thought it would be a powerful scene to do in a war game. 

#22 Posted by Jimbo (9775 posts) -

Games about killing people are the easiest sell.  Wait until GB puts up the Users Best of 2010 list and count how many of the games have a guy holding a weapon on the cover.

#23 Posted by Grumbel (910 posts) -
@HarlequinRiot said:
" It's something I've thought about but like people have said, it's just hard to do. I've always thought it would be a neat thing for a game to do something like a freeze frame after the character kills his first enemy and dive into a short exposition about who the person he killed really was and what the main character's thoughts are. I always thought it would be a powerful scene to do in a war game.  "
Its not that hard, Tomb Raider Anniversary does basically exactly that, Metal Gear 1 also does something similar with Meryl. The issue is that most games just don't care. They have game play on one side and story on the other. They don't bother to make sure that both of them actually connect and thus you end up with the random game having your sympatic mass murder hero.
 
Mirrors Edge almost got there, that game had so much potential to make a really good take on a non-violent or at least non-deadly game, but they kind of bothered it really bad with their level design, forcing  you into far to many situations that made conflict unavoidable.  And just like almost all other games, Mirrors Edge also lacks proper hit detection, you can't shoot somebody in the arm or leg, its all the same and everything will kill them. Doesn't even make a difference if you knock them out instead, as that simply gives you the same "dead" state of the enemy.
#24 Posted by Christoffer (1760 posts) -
@supermariobrah:
You are right. What keeps games from being the perfect media is the need of gameplay. That gameplay often tend to be "kill dudes" witch narrows down potential story lines quite a bit. If you pick it apart, the protagonist comes of as a bit psycho in most games. 
 
If you find a solution to this problem, you'll be rich.
#25 Edited by Jeust (10482 posts) -

 What does everyone else think on the lack of even a shred of humanity in most games?     

it's the overexposure to violence that inspires an unsympathetic response on the player. And games, like some genres of movies and books, mimic that behaviour.  
 
It also doesn't help that in most games, you're killing monsters, not humans.
#26 Posted by Grumbel (910 posts) -
@Christoffer said:
If you find a solution to this problem, you'll be rich. "
The solution was already found decades ago, we used to call them point&click adventures. The trouble is that that genre doesn't seem to have as much mass appeal as a shooter, so there isn't that much money in it and the genre hasn't really developed at much as it should have. Games like Indigo Prophecy and Heavy Rain show how a modern adventure game could look like, but those two games aside, hardly anybody really tries to make modern games in that genre and most the other games in that genre follow some 20 year old conventions, which isn't necessarily bad, but certainly holds them back quite a bit.
#27 Posted by Christoffer (1760 posts) -
@Grumbel:

Well, point & click where great at stories but it had its own set of problems. Indigo Prophecy and Heavy Rain are good atempts at making some progress. Personally, I think more developers needs to take a look at Dreamfall. That was a perfect blend of everything I wanted. Maybe not perfectly executed, but anyway, interesting structure with great potential.
#28 Posted by Faint (833 posts) -

this is one of thousands of reasons why i think final fantasy x was such a fantastic game. due the reflective nature of the main character tidus, he often comments on how he feels about events as they happened. i recall him at one point saying that something he was seeing was almost horrifying to him and that he never wanted to see it again. you dont hear them talk like that anymore, even in games today.

#29 Posted by Grumbel (910 posts) -
@Christoffer said:
Personally, I think more developers needs to take a look at Dreamfall. That was a perfect blend of everything I wanted.
In terms of story Dreamfall was great, in terms of mechanics I however found it rather underwhelming compared to Indigo Prophecy or Heavy Rain, as it was basically just old point&click with 3D graphics and direct character control thrown. And the action sequences that they had, had basically the same issues that all action sequences in adventures ever had (awkward controls, barely functioning mechanics, badly integrated, etc.).
#30 Posted by Christoffer (1760 posts) -
@Grumbel said:
" @Christoffer said:
Personally, I think more developers needs to take a look at Dreamfall. That was a perfect blend of everything I wanted.
In terms of story Dreamfall was great, in terms of mechanics I however found it rather underwhelming compared to Indigo Prophecy or Heavy Rain, as it was basically just old point&click with 3D graphics and direct character control thrown. And the action sequences that they had, had basically the same issues that all action sequences in adventures ever had (awkward controls, barely functioning mechanics, badly integrated, etc.). "

True. Heavy Rain is a better game over all. But I've never quite liked quicktime events so I think Dreamfall had better and more varied ideas. But as I said, kind of poorly put together in the end. 
 
Anyways, there's a lot of games that developers can consider if they want to open up this media a little more. Sadly, I think they rather lift ideas from Call of Duty.
#31 Posted by Sweep (8826 posts) -

I guess the main reason is because if the protagonsit broke down crying every time he scored a headshot it would really cramp the momentum and style of the game. Uncharted 2 is pretty lighthearted, and Nathan Drakes lack of interest in the dudes he is killing can be seen reflected in any number of action films. As a contrast, here's that scene from Layer Cake, where such gravity is given to a single murder that it dominates a large chunk of the film.  

   
 
Which is great and all, but perhaps doesn't translate well as a videogame :D
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