Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Elements of game design - Story and Character

I believe that a good, strong character is an integral part to any good story. A strong character is needed in order to move a story foward and to develop connections between the audience and the story itself.

I feel that character has never been more important than with today's video games, as we begin to see storytelling being taken to new levels beyond books and films. Moving into the future we are beginning to see video game characters being toned down a little from bulky, muscular, impressive macho men to ordinary, believable heroes with real personalities and distinctive qualities, as well as the introduction of more female characters and even new fantasy characters such as Sackboy and updated Mario increasing the interaction of the audience and believability of the characters themselves.

Personally i feel that recently, a lot of films have been released were i have felt no connection with the characters at all, which has severely handicapped the experience i hoped for from watching that particular film in the first place. A good example of this would be Paranormal Activity. At the end of the film one of the main characters is brutaly murdered by his girlfriend which should have been quite horrific, but, the characters had no history, no motives and no connection with the viewer which left the outcome of the film more laughable that an emotional shunt.
Books on the other hand have rarley, if ever let me down. This is perhaps due to the fact that an author has no restrictions to timing where as a film should always keep to 1hour30 to 2hour30 long usually, this allows authours to transfer more emotions to the audience that mabye we dont experience during a film. Things such as thoughts, feelings, history, dreams and secrets can be transferred easier in a book which can give the characters far more depth, and i feel that a lot of these techniques are being transferred, quite successfully, to todays video games, allowing the audience to respond and connect with video game characters on a much deeper level.

One advantage video games have over any other media is 'control'. I feel this factor alone can really drive the video game market further and in new directions and possibly allow video games to replace books and films as the publics chosen media to experience a powerful story. The ability to control your character within a video game creates a far deeper connection with the audience and in turn a greater response. I really think that this is something that game developers need to take advantage of and push further than control of just movement, i mean control over vision, actions, re-actions, thoughts and feelings that would allow plots to move in constantly changning directions. The player controlling the character and the character controlling the player.

As i have mentioned i love reading books, and i find horro stories irresistable, and am therefore a huge Stephen King fan, i am currently reading Kings' Dark Tower series. I strongly believe that there is a huge gap in the video game market for actual horror games, and i dont mean 'survival horror', there is a difference. All horror video games require the player to survive physically when i feel that most things that scare us are actually in the mind. As i have said, video game developers have the opportunity here to control our thoughts and feelings and our emotions on a much deeper level. I believe horror is more of a battle to survive metnally, and i strongly believe that in the future we will begin to see games take advantage of 'emotion control' throughout the different genres, leaving us with epic title built to knock the likes of Stephen Kings, The Stand and George Lucas', Star Wars off the top shelf.

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