December 10th, 2008 - 3:51 pm

This one will be quick. Take a look at this quote from Chris at ihobo.com:

This is the nub of the issue here: a story can make you cry by empathising [sic] with the protagonist (or another character), but a game (when viewed as a formal system) cannot do this. It follows that the only way that a videogame can make you cry is by using narrative tools that have nothing to do with games as formal systems whatsoever. So even though, for instance, many people report that they cried when they played Final Fantasy VII at the fateful scene [...] the moment that actually brought the player to tears was a non-interactive cut scene. It wasn’t the game (in the systems view) that made them cry – it was the story – and there never was a question as to whether stories could make you cry.

I agree and disagree. His examples are true, in so far as the part of the game that makes you cry isn’t an actual, functional part of the game at all. So in his examples it’s never really the game itself that makes you cry. However, this overarching statement is shortsighted in that it doesn’t account for the possibility that a game’s mechanics could themselves be the ones communicating the story. And this is an important distinction.

If it’s safe to say that a movie made you cry because of the way it tells you its story, then it’s also safe to say that if a game’s constituent parts (units and rules) convey a story, then a game can make you cry.

Spake gian mancuso, tagged as: dialectic,logic




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