By Brian Jensen
Gaming is changing more and more every day. We see it in graphics, sound, gameplay, and even more so in story telling. It wasn’t until BioShock and Uncharted, that intelligent and thought-provoking writing would be implemented into the interactive space. Now we are seeing writers all over the industry taking new approaches to writing games, and it seems like things are going in the right direction.
We talk about making games more cinematic all the time, but we just want games to be recognized by the mainstream as a form of media like any other. A medium that can resonate with people, introduce new ideas, and change things. As graphics improve, there is more and more desire to achieve cinematic quality, but it loses potential when you make every game like a Rambo movie.
Numerous times, discussion to implement gameplay to be on par with sequences we see in movies and TV when we see a AAA game released. Uncharted is usually the first to come up in these discussions. Most critics agree, Uncharted’s writing really brings characters to life, and brings characterization to a whole new level. The trouble is that we are still seeing the disconnect between the writing and what is happening on-screen. Nathan Drake, the main character, is a very likable and lively character during cutscenes. The gameplay tells you a very different story: He is also a mass murdering, cold-blooded killer.
Let’s also look at any game developed by Rockstar in the last 5 years. Almost all the characters want to redeem themselves and start a new life. This noble quest becomes invalid almost as soon as you start getting into the game. Niko, the “protagonist” of Grand Theft Auto IV, comes to the states to start over after he is betrayed by a fellow soldier. The player then spends the next 15-30 hours playing God and mowing down every single person in Liberty City that has rubbed someone the wrong way. That’s not to say their games aren’t fun, they are some of the most enjoyable experiences ever, but they are inconsistent.
It’s understandable that this isn’t an easy challenge to overcome, but there is a longing for meaningful gameplay that doesn’t involved simply killing. It has been said many times, that if gaming is going to evolve, it will have to do more than simply offer violence. Journey, Heavy Rain, and The Walking Dead: The Game don’t revolve around violence, but rather exploring the story. We try to solve problems we are faced with, get to know characters, and walk through a well realized world.
So who is leading this charge? It’s happening all over the industry. While some of the more vocal ones are making violence centered games, they have intent on changing the way we see these roles. Many have different approaches, but the sentiment is all the same: Games need to evolve! In the last couple weeks we’ve brought up writers such as Patrick Redding and Jeffrey Yohalem, that want to have players interpret games much differently. While Redding is looking at implementing these ideas in future projects, Yohalem is using his ideas in his upcoming game (FarCry 3).
The future is getting brighter and brighter every day for gaming’s evolution. Whether it be in gameplay, graphics, story, etc, things just get better and better. Writing in games have come a long ways since even the early days of this generation. Now, we are seeing more characters and less empty vessels programmed to kill everything we see. There could even be a possibility that we surpass movies and TV because of our ownership of the characters in games that no other medium could match, but let’s let time do its thing first, one step at a time.