Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Nablopomo and other aliens: Day 24

Like any healthy narcissist, I've been reading the comments to my article on the Escapist (about how video game characters' homes can be used to express their personalities).

This is sort of relevant, but really I just like the picture.

One thing which struck me in the first few comments was how people said they used their own characters' homes in order to give them a sense of personality in role-playing games. Oddly, this hadn't really occurred to me.

I suppose it's because even though I really enjoy role-playing games, I don't often devote the time to them that they deserve, they time that is needed to really get into the role. Perhaps because I'm always zipping from game to game, trying to get the most out of them in the amount of time that I have available to me. I feel like I have to make up for lost time and play all the wonderful games which I've never got round to at the same time as keeping up with new releases.

When I was studying, it wouldn't have occurred to me to start writing about Paul Auster without first having read Nathanial Hawthorne or Herman Melville. And now I've realised that it doesn't really make sense to be writing about The Longest Journey and Myst without having played Monkey Island. There are canonical works that I want to play for the first time, or play again. Did you know I haven't even played Final Fantasy VII? I'd really like to play Persona 4. I want to go back to Silent Hill 2 and get the alternative endings.

To do this of course, I have to find a platform on which to play these games. That won't be cheap or easy, but I realise that if I'm serious about games (which I am, in a scatter-brained naive sort of way), I have to do it.

As for the role-playing thing, maybe I'll devote more time to really getting into character in the future. I recently finished Red Dead Redemption (my goodness!), and by the end I was barely galloping at all because it just felt more natural for the horse to walk. Salaryn writes about role playing games in the first person a lot, which I've been thinking about that a lot this week. I can often play games in a fairly detached way, even when playing as a character I've created. When I talk so much about the importance of video game immersion, that seems quite strange.

Here's to taking role-playing more seriously and getting my hands on a Playstation 2.

And not resting on my Escapist-coloured laurels too much.


  1. I have always been able to "step into" books and games as if one of those magical doors had opened in a tree trunk. I'm right there with the characters, and often while playing or reading I am the characters.

    More than Suspension of Disbelief, less than anthropomorphism.

  2. I hope you will go back and play all those old games. I don't consider myself an RPG player primarily, though FF8 is a game I've gone back to at least 6 times to play all the way through--I consider it the best RPG ever made (I'm sure MANY will disagree). Anyway, going back to them is like watching classic films. You become able to appreciate the things that came after them much more.

  3. Firstly Salaryn, that's a gift! Generally, I find it easier to do that with books than with games, which is strange. Perhaps it's because the way you "behave" in games affects how immsive they are. For example, I tend not to use fast-travel because I find it less immersive. That's a conscious decision on my part, but because the option to fast-travel is there, I find it harder to forget I'm in a game. That said, I wouldn't advocate developers taking the option out because gamers need the option, need to be able to build their own experience.

    I often find that vehicles (or horses) can really help me get into character because I can drive/ride them at a "sensible" or "realistic" pace, not overtaking people, not tiring out the horse. The way I would in real life (if I had a horse and lived in medieval times, obv). Just riding/driving as fast as I can to get somewhere takes me out of the world and makes me feel like I'm just controlling pixels. Real immersion takes as much patience on the part of the gamer as it does skill of the developer, I think.

    And gary, I completely agree with you about the "classic film" comment. How tragic if these games are lost forever? Perhaps I'm being over dramatic here, but the idea of being unable to play Playstation 1 or 2 games because in a few years the platforms and the disks will have crumbled fills me with sadness and panic because it's art and it's history. I can't help but compare it to burning books.

    I'd love to play FF8, I've heard such good things.

    And you're right, yousee so much more in the things that come later if you see where they came from...

    Yours wistfully,