In the world of video games, the end doesn’t always justify the means

 

Although some may refuse to believe this statement to be true, games have indeed matured since the days of their orchestration. Initially beginning as nothing more than experiences which required the gamer to run and gun their way from the start of a level to its conclusion, additional storylines, character development and in-depth background of locations, scenarios and occurrences have modified gaming into an experience which can easily rival the enjoyment ascertained from reading and watching films.

As the title of this piece suggests, my belief, and a factor of gaming that I especially enjoy, is as follows; although a game may more often than not require a gamer to potentially blast their way from one side of the game to the next, the ending does not necessarily have to end with such violence; nor does the game as a whole.

Nowadays, a majority of games have cinematics and other such occurrences which separate one action sequence from the next which adds depth to the fictitious piece as a whole. In an RPG, this happens more often than not when in comparison with a shooter, a great comparative example being that of the Halo franchise and the Mass Effect series; both are entrenched with an amazing character driven narrative which immerses the player in futuristic alien environments against vile, antagonistic opponents who seek the destruction of humanity. Shrouded with other themes, the likes of friendship, family, love, betrayal, redemption and revenge, these games offer the player a gratifying experience that is worth experiencing again and again.

On that note, if a game has being leading the player through a substantially powerful storyline amidst the many action sequences, the conclusion could no doubt carry the same weight. The days when an ending to a game was simply a mix of explosions, mixed with the demise of the end boss is indeed still apparent, but more is conveyed during the moments that follow on from this particular occurrence, and it is that which I am aiming to discuss.

When I am playing a game and find myself at its conclusion, more often than not I would like to experience an ending which is incredibly emotional; a simpler way would be to say a real tear jerker.

The first time I finished a game which ended in much the same way I have described above the year was 2003, and the title of the game was Unreal II The Awakening. Since that time, it has again happened in regards to titles the likes of Bioshock and its sequel Bioshock 2, Halo Reach, Halo 4 and Mass Effect 3 (especially when played with the Extended Cut DLC).

Adjunctively Gears of War 2 and 3 moved me emotionally, but these moments occurred during the games rather than at their conclusions.

If a game has already proved itself capable of delivering unto the player an experience that is consistent with the kind of powerful storyline you would expect from a genuine blockbuster at the cinema, then an emotionally charged ending is no doubt an inevitability by the game’s end.

Of course, the stereotypical feature only runs for a period no less than two hours, where as the shortest stereotypical game one is likely to experience today will go for approximately three times that amount. So, if I am going to immerse myself into a fictitious world for that amount of time, then I would very much like for the ending to be as passionately powerful as the overall experience from start to finish was for me.

I can only speak for myself, but I very much enjoy being fully immersed into the world of a video game to such an extent that I will genuinely feel something; I will become sad if a protagonist who I had befriended and fought beside dies; I will smile if the vile antagonist who caused such pain and suffering is defeated by game’s end; I will feel contempt at the evocative nature of any relationship that I manage to instigate between my character and a possible paramour.

With that said, certain readers may find it interesting that I would rather be brought to tears by the ending of a specific title, rather than find an epic amount of explosions dazzling across the screen before the credits gradually start rolling. True, I don’t believe that people in general enjoy crying, but that rule does not apply in my opinion when you are viewing fictitious content. To be moved in any which way; to tears; to fits of hysterical laughter; to glances of awe, is not always possible with every title, no matter the content, and to become emotionally distraught by a tragic ending is not something to be horrified at, but something to be ecstatic with.

If a feature has moved the viewer in the way that the writers, director and developers originally intended, then they have successfully achieved that which they had set out to do. If I had not being moved to tears by the game’s ending then that would have being an issue for I would not be acquiring the experience that I had paid for. Game’s in general often cost three times the amount of a film, and to be moved by the conclusion is well worth the one hundred odd dollars that the campaign was valued at.

In conclusion, I would very much like for more game’s to have an emotionally charged ending after playing through the campaign, or, like the Mass Effect series, build up on that possible ending through a franchise. After all, if I am going to be fully immersed into the world of a video game, I would genuinely appreciate the ability to be moved by an ending that has being developed by people as passionate for the game as I am, rather than end on the stereotypical explosive scenario that many game’s to this day conclude upon.

To be moved to tears by a game’s ending is not something that people should look down upon; it simply means that the player is human. As a species, humans are more often than not affected emotionally when something tragic happens. All I ask is that this in-depth feeling of humanity is written into the game’s that I play.

Thank you for reading.

If you have any comments on what I have written, or opinions of your own in regards to the subject matter, please, feel free to discuss them in the comments section below.

Hollywood; Loyal Movie Developer, or the Murderer of Movies?

 

The following content is but my opinion, so if you don’t agree that is purely your prerogative, and you have every right to it.

However, I would like to state that over the past few years, the varieties of films that have graced our screens at the cinema and at our own homes I would say are less ‘gracing’ our screens as they once did, but are tormenting them with stories that require additional development, characters who are either very similar to others or who are simply brain dead and are unable to postulate a single thought of their own, and special effects that inevitably cause the audience to become lost within the, sometimes, beauty of the graphics and forget what the plot was in the first place – which doesn’t say much about the plot.

I would argue that it seems that Hollywood has officially run out of gas. The vehicle that is the movie making monopoly has stalled on the side of the road and is attempting to make its way back to the city on gasoline that is less that the required ‘premium’ variety that it is used to.

How often recently have you seen a film that was an original concept? I mean, every second film contains vampires, every third film contains werewolves and every fourth film contains aliens that are hell bent on our destruction. There are only so many ways you can create a storyline that is reflective of these genres, and eventually they all just blur together and it is as though you are watching the same film over and over again.

And don’t you dare get me started on the remakes that are been tossed out from Hollywood faster than its trash.

I have always wondered, how do the creators, the actors, the writers, the producers, the directors, and all the other hundreds of people involved in the original features feel when Hollywood decides to orchestrate a new film based upon the original story. Hollywood claims it is ‘better’, but really – these stories are shorter, chuck out the original script and take out all the ‘unnecessary’ parts (you know, the story) and riddle it with enough action in the hope of keeping the audience on their toes. Now, this can work; Poseidon and Fright Night were both, in my opinion, terrific re-imaginings of the original film concepts. But still, how do the people involved in the original feature feel when Hollywood markets the re-make as though the original never happened. I remember with Poseidon, which I just complimented by the way, the trailer said it was the first great film from WB and bla, bla, bla, but never in the trailer did they say it was based on the original film, or on the book that the original film was based upon. They said that in the titles, but who honestly reads them anymore? According to statistics in Australia, 40% of the workforce cannot read. And we are a ‘developed’ country. HA! My point is that I was the only person I knew at the time it was an actual remake. Hell, none of the other people I knew had even heard of the tele-movie ‘the New Poseidon Adventure’, let alone the original Poseidon Adventure.

Then there are the remakes that ruin the original films. A great example would have to be Clash of the Titans. The original film stuck to the concept of Greek Gods and the mythology that the ancient culture that believed in them based their religious theories upon. The Gods were mischievous and interfered with the lives of mere mortals. They could care less for humans, and never physically made their way down to the planet to mingle with them, and instead watched their struggles, and, if they became bored, would make said struggles even more forebodingly difficult and treacherous.

In the remake – well, for one, the robotic owl that appeared in the original – is scrapped! The Gods, well, they love humans. Zeus is constantly jumping down to Earth to talk to his half-son Perseus and give him warm advice and offerings and much needed encouragement, which he refuses, which is a first for me. I mean, who is offered a great array of amazing powers and tools, etc, only to say ‘no thanks’?

Then we have the insufferable love story that gets in the way of enjoying the real storyline. I remember when the young lady died (I could care less for the film which is why I forget her name), at the cinema, a little girl sitting not far from me said ‘mummy, is she going to Heaven?’ I felt like leaning over and barking ‘no you little idiot! She’s going to Hades! Now hush!’ My point? Our society has an imbedded ideology of our religious concepts thanks to films and other such factors, and in doing so we have ultimately forgotten where all of the religions began and many seem to think they never occurred at all.

And the ending – typical Hollywood – unable to generate an ending that is anything but happy. For once, I would like to see the hero fail or the loved one perish and never return or some other tragically emotional occurrence.

That leads me to the other issue – sustenance. All of the films made by Hollywood are so nice and sweet that if aliens are really watching these things, they’ll probably invade Earth just based on the principle that humanity seems to be a bunch of sissy’s, no offence. Well, I have offended thee, so let me explain why…the romantic, happy, hero always wins and gets the girl storylines are so far from being realistic that to call them so would be outrageous. In reality, such beautiful storylines are not articulated. Humanity would not survive against an alien force with bigger guns, bigger brains and better technology than us – but in films we always do. In reality the vampire would not be a tragically defeated soul looking for someone to soothe his lonely, wounded heart – but in films, that’s all he ever is, and the idea of sipping blood is suddenly turned into a big ‘no! No!’

I would like to think that people who watch films are intelligent. If that be the case, then intelligent people would expect more from their films than the stereotypical Hollywood jargon that is continuously been promulgated and force fed down our throats. True, we don’t have to watch it, but the thing is, do we have a choice? Australian films are few and far between. Foreign films – well, unless one understands the lingo you ain’t gonna have much fun because the subtitles fly across the screen faster than a Formula One Racing Car. At the end of the day, if we are to endure films to acquire some pleasing entertainment from them, I think we would very much appreciate to gain that entertainment rather than be denied it time and time again.

This leads me to my next argument. Video games that are turned into movies. Okay, I will admit, on occasion, the films in themselves stand alone as not half bad features. They are often action packed, fast hitting and quite enjoyable for a good couple hours. On the other hand however, when in comparison to the actual video games they are ‘based’ upon, I cannot see the resemblance. Take Doom for example. In the original Doom game, the Union Aerospace Corporation is taken over by demons spawned from Hell that kill everyone and leave only one man surviving – the hero the gamer plays as. In the film, the monsters are scientific organisms that were once people and have thus been transformed due to genetic experimentation, and have escaped and are running rampant throughout the scientific facility. Apart from a three minute FPS experience and the fact that a couple monsters looked similar to the ones found in Doom3, I failed to see the resemblance.

Now however, Hollywood has announced that Mass Effect, Just Cause, World of Warcraft, Bioshock and a couple other titles are all on the way to been turned into movies. My question is…why? Games are like movies – you experience them for the entertainment. Games are basically you could say like anime – they are animated features with the exception that the viewer becomes involved in the storyline and is thus further immersed into the world than one ever would in a film, which is beneficial if you ask me. Now, the shortest game I have ever played lasted around 4.5 hours. The longest lasted well over 36. My question – how do you compress all of that story into under 2 hours, cuz, let’s face it, there has never been as movie based on a video game that has gone for longer than 108 minutes!

Of course, there is always the Halo film that is continuously been put on hold by the fact that the directors keep running away from the project as far as their legs can carry them. I would presume they are right to flee from fear of the reprisal that will be brought upon them if the film is anything less than an accurate articulation of the entertainment that was acquired from the original video game.

In conclusion to this section, I find Hollywood’s continued use of turning video games into films proof that they are officially out of ideas, and so instead of creating another lame plot, need to turn an amazing video game experience into a lame plot.

Then there is the Australian film industry. I have spent enough time attacking the American version, so allow me to move onto one that is closer to home. However, this too is linked back to my argument on Hollywood; I blame Hollywood for the current state of the Australian industry. Not in regards to its financial issues or its lack of productivity, but in relation to the fact that Australian films are becoming much more Americanised. The perfect example of what Australian cinema used to be like would have to be the Mad Max films, especially the second in the franchise. Mad Max is the perfect anti-hero, which is what Australian cinema used to be riddled with. Americans have always loved their heroes. In films, their heroes will do anything to save people, country, God and anything else that stands for freedom and liberty just because they can. In Australian cinema, Australians in general used to like their heroes to be a bit dirtier. In regards to Mad Max, he agreed to help the settlers who were under siege from the antagonistic armies; however, he had a price. He wanted a vehicle, fuel and ammunition. If his demands were not met, he was not going to assist them. That is the perfect representation of the anti-hero. However, such an idea seems to have dried up and died with Australian heroes, when there are heroes, often they are now-a-days been articulated as true blue heroic characters that will lay their lives on the line to save anything and everything. The impact of American films on Australia has ultimately rendered our film traditions moot as audiences crave more and more American content that has caused the industry to adapt to the changing face of the Australian audience.

So, after that rant of mine, what does the fair readership of this piece think? Do you believe that Hollywood is still as fantastic as it once was and is spewing out pieces of amazing work? Or do you think that I may be onto something, and that Hollywood is in fact a ravenous monster, keen to devour everything in its path and turn what could be great into quite the opposite?

Thank you for reading,

Naughty Nefarious, signing off!