#1 Posted by Animasta (14633 posts) -

so I just realized that despite the fact that I use it (mostly ironically, of course, but still) I have no idea where it came from, beyond the fact that GB likes to use it a lot. Was it Mass Effect 2? that seems like a good case for it.

but I'm really not sure and I have no idea if I'll ever find it and oh god what will I do if I can't.

well, do you guys know?

#2 Posted by Animasta (14633 posts) -

also how do you guys like the dark middle chapter of my post, I really feel that it highlights my dismay at not knowing where it comes from and my despair that I will never know.

#3 Posted by MikkaQ (10263 posts) -

Probably when people realized that every middle part of every trilogy is the depressing one. Which is of course tied to the 3 act structure which we've been using for a very long time.

So it probably came from authors or literary critics, I imagine.

#4 Posted by Undeadpool (4902 posts) -

It's a writing trope that says essentially the middle "chapter," in this case it doesn't need to mean a LITERAL chapter, but a middle portion, of a story should be the one where the quest/journey seems lost and the protagonist reaches their lowest point. I don't know if the phrase was coined by Joseph Campbell, but that's a great place to start if you'd like to know more.

#5 Edited by ModernAlkemie (357 posts) -

The basic three act structure is a very general narrative structure. It uses the first "act" to establish the settings and characters, the second "act" to establish a conflict (making it the "dark" chapter), and the third "act" to resolve this conflict.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ThreeActStructure

One of the best examples everyone should be familiar with is The Empire Strikes Back, which is the "dark middle chapter" of the original Star Wars trilogy.

This narrative structure is of course very common in video games as well: /dark-second-act/92-3275/

#6 Posted by LtSquigs (253 posts) -

Yeah as others have pointed out its part of a more general story structure that a lot of stories use.

Particularly in stories where you have a hero one of the easiest ways to define that character as a hero is to give them a dark middle chapter. Overcoming great darkness is usually the mark of a great hero, whereas not having to overcome that darkness usually isn't.

Since many Games tend to focus on the kind of standard heroic journey story, you get a lot of games that have dark middle chapters.

Mass Effect 2 is kind of an interesting example because it is both a dark middle chapter (things are more serious, there are insurmountable odds, etc), while also having what some consider lighter elements than Mass Effect 1 (Theres a lot more jokes, leaning against the fourth wall, and moments of levity)

#7 Posted by Animasta (14633 posts) -

god I know what it means I'm not an idiot (If I didn't, I doubt i would've mentioned ME2).

I just wanted to know where the phrase came from <_<

#8 Posted by ripelivejam (3458 posts) -

if you consider the series it comes from only a 5 book series (which at the rate it's going it probably will end up being <_< ) George R R Martin's A Storm of Swords is the middle chapter to beat all fucking middle chapters

#9 Posted by Animasta (14633 posts) -

besides the best games are the ones that are all dark middle chapters (the SMT mainline series for example)

#10 Edited by Canteu (2821 posts) -

@Animasta: the phrase came from it's own meaning. pretty self explanatory of an origin if i must say.

This is why people are explaining what it means to you.

#11 Posted by Animasta (14633 posts) -

@Canteu said:

@Animasta: the phrase came from it's own meaning. pretty self explanatory of an origin if i must say.

there's different ways of saying it though, and regardless GB started saying it way more than is normal so I was wondering what started that.

#12 Posted by Canteu (2821 posts) -

@Animasta said:

GB started saying it way more than is normal so I was wondering what started that.

Probably because there has been a lot of dark middle chapters in recent years, what with it being a trope and all.

#13 Posted by Video_Game_King (35802 posts) -

@Animasta said:

Besides, the best games are the ones that are all dark middle chapters (Fire Emblem: Seisen no Keifu, for example).

This post has been improved for future generations.

Online
#14 Posted by Animasta (14633 posts) -

@Canteu said:

@Animasta said:

GB started saying it way more than is normal so I was wondering what started that.

Probably because there has been a lot of dark middle chapters in recent years, what with it being a trope and all.

thats not what trope means, don't let TVTropes confuse you (also a trope doesn't mean something that has gotten popular lately).

#15 Posted by Bourbon_Warrior (4523 posts) -

@Animasta said:

god I know what it means I'm not an idiot (If I didn't, I doubt i would've mentioned ME2).

I just wanted to know where the phrase came from <_<

I don't think you did since your question pretty much asked where it came from and you asked is ME2 the origin (lol).

Seems you are just getting angry with people that are answering your simple question, so next time just try Google, Yahoo Answers or even Ask Jeeves.

#16 Posted by IzzyGraze (849 posts) -

I thought I remember for my old days of studying classics that the difference between a Comedy and a Drama is that It's called a Drama if it's structured: Sad, Happy, Sad. And it's called a Comedy if it's: Happy, Sad, Happy. So, that would be the sad or "dark" middle chapter. I believe my professor told me that when I asked why it was called the Divine Comedy. So, if that's true then it would go back to at least the 14th century. I thought it might refer to Greek Tragedy vs Comedy but I can't find anything to back that up.

Again I was told this like 6 years ago, so I'm not 100% what it was a reference to. But I do remember that that was the theory. But yeah, think of any Disney movie or Doctor Horrible's sing along blog.

#17 Posted by Animasta (14633 posts) -

@Bourbon_Warrior said:

@Animasta said:

god I know what it means I'm not an idiot (If I didn't, I doubt i would've mentioned ME2).

I just wanted to know where the phrase came from <_<

I don't think you did since your question pretty much asked where it came from and you asked is ME2 the origin (lol).

Seems you are just getting angry with people that are answering your simple question, so next time just try Google, Yahoo Answers or even Ask Jeeves.

but I was specifically talking about Giant Bomb UGH, and I already searched the forums, so don't be snide

#18 Posted by BisonHero (6047 posts) -

@Animasta said:

@Bourbon_Warrior said:

@Animasta said:

god I know what it means I'm not an idiot (If I didn't, I doubt i would've mentioned ME2).

I just wanted to know where the phrase came from <_<

I don't think you did since your question pretty much asked where it came from and you asked is ME2 the origin (lol).

Seems you are just getting angry with people that are answering your simple question, so next time just try Google, Yahoo Answers or even Ask Jeeves.

but I was specifically talking about Giant Bomb UGH, and I already searched the forums, so don't be snide

You leave Dave out of this! He has to finish the site, dammit!

#19 Edited by laserbolts (5309 posts) -

Are you telling someone to not be Dave Snider? What is happening?

#20 Posted by Bourbon_Warrior (4523 posts) -

@Animasta said:

@Bourbon_Warrior said:

@Animasta said:

god I know what it means I'm not an idiot (If I didn't, I doubt i would've mentioned ME2).

I just wanted to know where the phrase came from <_<

I don't think you did since your question pretty much asked where it came from and you asked is ME2 the origin (lol).

Seems you are just getting angry with people that are answering your simple question, so next time just try Google, Yahoo Answers or even Ask Jeeves.

but I was specifically talking about Giant Bomb UGH, and I already searched the forums, so don't be snide

What other games apart from ME2 have that dark middle chapter?

#21 Posted by Kyreo (4600 posts) -

It was Star Wars. Duh.

#22 Posted by SethPhotopoulos (5043 posts) -

I remember Brad feeling like characters dying in ME2 was Bioware's attempt at making a dark middle chapter (even if all one had to do to not let anyone die was use common sense) and because a bunch of threes and fours started coming out they have been mentioning the dark middle chapter a lot.

#23 Posted by ImmortalSaiyan (4673 posts) -

I remember joke starting on the site with Mass Effect 2. Just kind of stuck as in joke type thing I guess.

#24 Edited by NegativeCero (2972 posts) -

I always thought it was a reference to Empire Strikes Back.

#25 Posted by Laurentech (127 posts) -

I don't know that there's one notable source for the popularization of that phrase. It's just a natural phrase used to succinctly describe the core concept. One (or some) of the guys probably picked it up somewhere in their past and it stuck with them.

UGH.

#26 Posted by ripelivejam (3458 posts) -

@laserbolts: we all want to be, in some small way, Dave Snider

#27 Edited by MikkaQ (10263 posts) -

@Bourbon_Warrior said:

@Animasta said:

@Bourbon_Warrior said:

@Animasta said:

god I know what it means I'm not an idiot (If I didn't, I doubt i would've mentioned ME2).

I just wanted to know where the phrase came from <_<

I don't think you did since your question pretty much asked where it came from and you asked is ME2 the origin (lol).

Seems you are just getting angry with people that are answering your simple question, so next time just try Google, Yahoo Answers or even Ask Jeeves.

but I was specifically talking about Giant Bomb UGH, and I already searched the forums, so don't be snide

What other games apart from ME2 have that dark middle chapter?

Halo 2, Gears of War 2, Modern Warfare 2, Prince of Persia Warrior Within (a little too on the nose with it, too), Killzone 2, etc.

That's off the top of my head, but basically any gaming trilogy with a story arc that spans all three games will do this.

Also any piece of media anywhere that follows the three act structure will undoubtedly have the middle be where the protagonist has the biggest struggle or be handed his biggest defeat, which gives him resolve to solve his problem at the end.

#28 Posted by Bourbon_Warrior (4523 posts) -

@MikkaQ said:

@Bourbon_Warrior said:

@Animasta said:

@Bourbon_Warrior said:

@Animasta said:

god I know what it means I'm not an idiot (If I didn't, I doubt i would've mentioned ME2).

I just wanted to know where the phrase came from <_<

I don't think you did since your question pretty much asked where it came from and you asked is ME2 the origin (lol).

Seems you are just getting angry with people that are answering your simple question, so next time just try Google, Yahoo Answers or even Ask Jeeves.

but I was specifically talking about Giant Bomb UGH, and I already searched the forums, so don't be snide

What other games apart from ME2 have that dark middle chapter?

Halo 2, Gears of War 2, Modern Warfare 2, Prince of Persia Warrior Within (a little too on the nose with it, too), Killzone 2, etc.

That's off the top of my head, but basically any gaming trilogy with a story arc that spans all three games will do this.

I dunno because pretty much all those games start with invasions of some sort. I mean Killzone 2 was actually when you were getting revenge invading their planets. It just doesn't really work for games

#29 Posted by huser (1017 posts) -

@IzzyGraze said:

I thought I remember for my old days of studying classics that the difference between a Comedy and a Drama is that It's called a Drama if it's structured: Sad, Happy, Sad. And it's called a Comedy if it's: Happy, Sad, Happy. So, that would be the sad or "dark" middle chapter. I believe my professor told me that when I asked why it was called the Divine Comedy. So, if that's true then it would go back to at least the 14th century. I thought it might refer to Greek Tragedy vs Comedy but I can't find anything to back that up.

Again I was told this like 6 years ago, so I'm not 100% what it was a reference to. But I do remember that that was the theory. But yeah, think of any Disney movie or Doctor Horrible's sing along blog.

Pretty much what I was told though Drama was used to cover both Comedy and Tragedy. Tragedy being the one that starts good and ends bad. The middle being more of divisional line than an actual component in the narrative thread.

#30 Posted by huser (1017 posts) -

@Bourbon_Warrior: @Bourbon_Warrior said:

@MikkaQ said:

@Bourbon_Warrior said:

@Animasta said:

@Bourbon_Warrior said:

@Animasta said:

god I know what it means I'm not an idiot (If I didn't, I doubt i would've mentioned ME2).

I just wanted to know where the phrase came from <_<

I don't think you did since your question pretty much asked where it came from and you asked is ME2 the origin (lol).

Seems you are just getting angry with people that are answering your simple question, so next time just try Google, Yahoo Answers or even Ask Jeeves.

but I was specifically talking about Giant Bomb UGH, and I already searched the forums, so don't be snide

What other games apart from ME2 have that dark middle chapter?

Halo 2, Gears of War 2, Modern Warfare 2, Prince of Persia Warrior Within (a little too on the nose with it, too), Killzone 2, etc.

That's off the top of my head, but basically any gaming trilogy with a story arc that spans all three games will do this.

I dunno because pretty much all those games start with invasions of some sort. I mean Killzone 2 was actually when you were getting revenge invading their planets. It just doesn't really work for games

And really ME2 isn't all that dark. Collectors scooping up some human colonists vs a race of synthetics going around turning people into zombies and running around on a giant warship, while the protagonist has a good idea that they are working in service of some REAL dark masters intending (at minimum) to unleash those synthetics, vat grown Krogan, and Rachni on the galaxy. ME2 was grittier, more personal in spots, but it wasn't all that much darker. Now if Shep had needed to say help Cerberus put down a prison break involving kids that were brutally tortured and experimented on just trying to escape their hell, because he needs their biotics in the future...well that would be dark. Sure one could point to the Reapers coming, but we knew that in ME1 too.

#31 Posted by Apparatus_Unearth (3095 posts) -

@Kyreo said:

It was Star Wars. Duh.

Nailed it.

#32 Posted by MikkaQ (10263 posts) -

@Bourbon_Warrior said:

@MikkaQ said:

@Bourbon_Warrior said:

@Animasta said:

@Bourbon_Warrior said:

@Animasta said:

god I know what it means I'm not an idiot (If I didn't, I doubt i would've mentioned ME2).

I just wanted to know where the phrase came from <_<

I don't think you did since your question pretty much asked where it came from and you asked is ME2 the origin (lol).

Seems you are just getting angry with people that are answering your simple question, so next time just try Google, Yahoo Answers or even Ask Jeeves.

but I was specifically talking about Giant Bomb UGH, and I already searched the forums, so don't be snide

What other games apart from ME2 have that dark middle chapter?

Halo 2, Gears of War 2, Modern Warfare 2, Prince of Persia Warrior Within (a little too on the nose with it, too), Killzone 2, etc.

That's off the top of my head, but basically any gaming trilogy with a story arc that spans all three games will do this.

I dunno because pretty much all those games start with invasions of some sort. I mean Killzone 2 was actually when you were getting revenge invading their planets. It just doesn't really work for games

What does that matter if a lot of them involve invasions? The 2nd acts of each of these trilogies ended on a fairly dark note. That's in compliance with the three act structure that you can find in any storytelling medium.

All the invasion stuff tells me is that most big budget video game trilogies are pretty simplistic in their narrative, that's for sure.

#33 Posted by MiniPato (2714 posts) -

From between your ass cheeks!

#34 Posted by Eviternal (190 posts) -

@Animasta said:

@Canteu said:

@Animasta said:

GB started saying it way more than is normal so I was wondering what started that.

Probably because there has been a lot of dark middle chapters in recent years, what with it being a trope and all.

thats not what trope means, don't let TVTropes confuse you (also a trope doesn't mean something that has gotten popular lately).

I don't know what you think trope means, but:

Merriam-Webster: a common or overused theme or device

Oxford: a significant or recurrent theme; a motif

@Animasta said:

...don't be snide

Don't be rude.

#35 Posted by believer258 (11562 posts) -

@Bourbon_Warrior said:

@Animasta said:

@Bourbon_Warrior said:

@Animasta said:

god I know what it means I'm not an idiot (If I didn't, I doubt i would've mentioned ME2).

I just wanted to know where the phrase came from <_<

I don't think you did since your question pretty much asked where it came from and you asked is ME2 the origin (lol).

Seems you are just getting angry with people that are answering your simple question, so next time just try Google, Yahoo Answers or even Ask Jeeves.

but I was specifically talking about Giant Bomb UGH, and I already searched the forums, so don't be snide

What other games apart from ME2 have that dark middle chapter?

Jak 2 and Prince of Persia: Warrior Within.

Both of those took "dark middle chapter" to its logical conclusion, from a tone not unlike happy-go-lucky Disney cartoons to something more along the lines of a late-night Adult Swim bloody anime.

#36 Posted by MarkWahlberg (4579 posts) -

I put my dark chapter in your momma's middle, if you get what I'm saying.

Online
#37 Posted by thomasnash (528 posts) -

I think the "dark middle chapter" owes more to the second two-thirds of trilogies being greenlit after the success of a self-contained first part. Even if a trilogy has always been the ultimate goal (star wars, mass effect?) there is still the need to make that first "chapter" as self contained as possible for various reasons; people aren't (necessarily) fond of cliffhangers and so on because it comes off as "sequel bait," and it would stick out like a sore thumb if the sequels didn't get made. And I suppose from a creative standpoint, if you keep it self-contained and it's not successful enough for a sequel, you can at least say to yourself you reached an end point. I imagine it would be horrible to have the sequel hooks hanging over you, letting you know your work isn't finished but you can't get the resources to finish it.

But when the first part is successful, and you discover you can make a sequel, well, you might be a bit more confident that the third part will get made - you may even have signed a 2 picture deal. The work becomes a trilogy and you can structure the remaining two pieces as 2 parts of a whole. Certainly in hollywood the tendency is to use a comedic structure so this tends to mean that the ending of the second film is a bit of a downer. So while it does eventually fit rather neatly into this conception of a three-act structure, it's more of a deferred structure than that, I think.

I do wonder why people get so hung up on the three act structure, though. It's not a totally valueless way of looking at story structure, I suppose, but shakespearean drama is all in 5 acts (I believe most of his contemporaries used similar structures, it's not really my thing). I think this is largely modeled on greek drama, but looking at thisI get the impression that greek drama is structured in a more interesting way then that, with a narrative structure containing discreet poetic structures within it (this is true of shakespeare as well, I suppose, but greek poetry is more formally rigid, so all of the stuff about strophe and anastrophe in the parode makes me wonder if there are some relatively complex narrative movements embedded in that general form). Most modern plays I've seen or studied are one or two acts, although perhaps you could accuse me of being too literal with that. As for other forms, Epic usually has a far more complicated structure than that. Paradise Lost, for example, is structured around chapters which mirror each other, centred around the triumph of Uriel, as well as various other oganisational principles that I can't really be bothered to go into here. The first novelswere too rambling and episodic to really fit into the 3 act structure. It just seems like an odd thing to want to try and fit all of the heterogenous forms into something so pat as the three act structure...