Sunday, December 21, 2008

games about being admired and loved

In the game Unreal II, there are some story elements involving a female officer on your ship. There is a place where your character asks her what she believes in. Then, near the end of the game when you are on the planet and she is in the ship, the ship is shot down. She's on the radio with you as the ship breaks up and she goes on about how it was all worth it to help you out. Her last words are, "You asked me what I believe in. I believe in you."

I remember thinking how dorky that was at the time. I mean, first of all, it would be a dorky line, even for a movie (I'm not saying a really good script and a really good actress couldn't pull it off, but it would be challenge). But more than that, this is a game. She's talking to my character. Am I supposed to feel good that an NPC says that my game character is worth dying for?

At first, I thought that this was just an aberration, some game script writer got confused about the difference between games and movies. But I've seen similar things in RPG games that I've played (Unreal II isn't an RPG, it's an FPS). Most recently I've been playing Fallout 3 which is chock full of this stuff. There is a painfully sappy sequence with the character's father, and you go around the D.C. area being loved and admired.

Do people really like this in games? I find it rather annoying. I play computer games for the excitement: the simulation of danger without significant risk of getting my head blown off, the simulation of adventure without the real risk of having to go without a hot shower. It just seems really odd to me to have a game that tries to provide other emotional hooks like the needs for love and respect.

I'm wondering if other people really do find those hooks pleasant, or are game designers just confused about what medium they are working in?

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