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Op Ed

Forbes - Conan O'Brien, Hitman, And Ludonarrative Dissonance In Video Games.
Basically each of his jokes says something profoundly important about games whether or not he realizes it, and this is (I suspect) mainly because here we have someone who doesnít play video games at all playing one and simply speaking his mind. The conceit of many video games these days is that you can get away with bad writing and preposterous narrative choices simply because itís a game.

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4. Re: Op Ed Feb 13, 2013, 00:08 Creston
 
The conceit of many video games these days is that you can get away with bad writing and preposterous narrative choices simply because itís a game.

By and large, this is simply true. Does the narrative of Mario Kart make any sense? How about the narrative of Far Cry 3? (I deliberately chose two games from completely different sides of the spectrum.)

Gameplay trumps everything else. You can tell the greatest story in the world, but if the game that goes with it is boring, few people will bother playing it to the end. You can have a game with a narrative that is completely off-the-charts weird, to the extent that the writer who came up with it has to come and explain that it's really him just taking the piss at other video games (to which everyone responds "Hmmm... really?"), but because the gameplay around it is fun and engaging, the game is considered to be good to great. And you can have a game with a setup that makes no sense whatsoever, but who gives a shit, because Bowser fucking ROCKS in Mario Kart.

Now, there are certainly games that try to tell a great story and fail to do so miserably. However, that isn't something that's somehow unique to the gaming industry. There are plenty of movies who try to tell a great story and fail miserably. You can look at the last ten or so M Knight Smahalaayamanamandnand movies for perfect examples, and of course the same goes for literature.

Gaming as a whole isn't under some over-arching conceit that it can just take the piss at "the story" because they make games. Many studios now hire professional writers to help with crafting the story, and several employ said writers on a permanent basis.

Hell, if anything, these days the gaming industry probably takes "the story" TOO seriously, and lets it get in the way of gameplay far more often than it really should, which the Forbes guy does correctly point out, in the form of the "ludonarrative dissonance", (and FUCK Clint Hocking for coming up with such a retarded name for it.) But again, I don't really see that as a deliberate attempt to just take the piss, but rather a case of unskilled writers having no idea how to railroad the story where they want/need it to go otherwise.

(hint to developers: Beating the player in a cutscene is fucking stupid. Do it the way Dragon Age: Origins did it -> Logain's lieutenant comes to arrest you, and you can either go with her, which leads to the hilarious "prison escape" sequence, which many people have commented on was the funniest moment in DA:O, OR you can choose to fight her. At this point, if you lose, the funny stuff still happens, but if you win, hey, the game goes on, and you don't get to see the funny prison breaks sequence. Sure, some gamers might miss out and the guy who wrote all those funny combos might be annoyed. On the flipside, the gamers who beat the (HEAVILY overpowered) lieutenant feel like absolute badasses for having done so, and enjoy the fact that they were able to stay out of prison.

THIS is good writing. Cutscene "you get knocked out and are captured" end cutscene is most definitely NOT good writing.)

Creston
 
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