Search

Haleigh Klaus

Narrative and Gaming

Themes in Games

Alright, alright, alriiigghhhttt! Time for another blog post!

So, our question to answer this week is “what themes do you think are most and least appropriate for video games?”, and, let’s be honest, this is kind of a hard question to answer. The amount of different themes that can be found in video games is so broad that there is no way I could name every single one of them. Hell, some games have 5+ themes on their own. I do not think I can accurately answer this question, because I don’t really have a problem with occurring themes in games. In my honest opinion, I don’t think there are themes that are “least appropriate” for video games. Video games are a broader way of reaching out to society sometimes and it’s not a bad thing. If it takes someone playing Bioshock Infinite to learn that American Exceptionalism is garbage and racism is disgusting, then so be it.

bioshock-infinite

I have never played a game and the theme(s) of that game hinder how I felt about it. I think themes in video games give them a deeper meaning and that is why the English major in me loves them so deeply. So, all that being said, for this blog post I am going to tell you my personal favorite theme in video games and my least favorite and why.

My favorite theme in games was really hard to decide. I play such a wide variety of games from Animal Crossing to Outlast to Overwatch… I’m all over the place concerning the things I like. My favorite right now at this very second would be the theme of personal choices leading to consequences. I understand that in most of these games, your choice doesn’t really matter. Whatever bad thing that is supposed to happen is going to happen either way, but I still enjoy them. Just like in real life, if something is supposed to happen, nine times out of ten, it is going to happen no matter how hard you try and stop it. Until Dawn, Life is Strange, the Fallout games, Bioshock, Fable, The Witcher… I can’t get enough of them. I love them even though half the time my choices don’t matter. I feel more connected with the characters in these games because of it (huuuge empath over here).

until-dawn

My least favorite theme… You know, I can’t even tell you what the exact theme of these games are, but I don’t like them. Grand Theft Auto. Total garbage in my eyes. It’s not the “heists” in this game that get to me, because I do enjoy games like Payday. I really think its how overwhelmingly awful some of the characters are and the things you have to make them do. And, also, I use to work for a game store and watching people buy those games for their ten year old kids.. Oh man.. A whole new kind of rage boiled inside of me every single time.

grand-theft-stinko

Back to the point of this post, I don’t think there are any themes that are least appropriate for games. They are games. That’s it. They’re meant for fun and if you don’t like a certain theme in games, don’t play those games. It’s that simple.

The Last of Us

This week in my Narrative and Gaming class our blog prompt was to pick the game that has the most effective intro for establishing the game and the story. We have to pick from games we have played for class or watched a play through of for class. I, obviously, have picked The Last of Us. Full disclosure, I have never played this game. I intend on playing it very soon (as long as my friend pulls through on letting me borrow it), but other than that, I’ve only seen the first eighteen minutes of game play.

Out of all of the games we have played and watched thus far, this game takes the cake. In eighteen minutes, I knew exactly who the main character is, his motives behind how he is and what he is doing, and the whole background for the mess that is happening in game. THAT is impressive.

Within three minutes of the game starting, I had a really good guess what the game was going to be about. At three minutes and ten seconds exactly (at least in the video we watched) there is a newspaper and the headline states “ADMITTANCE SPIKES AT AREA HOSPITALS! 300% INCREASE DUE TO MYSTERIOUS INFECTION”. This immediately hints to me that the game is going to involve zombies (sweet, I love zombies). At five and a half minutes in, suspicions confirmed! They are zombies (double sweet). Shortly after,  we meet Uncle Tommy and venture out of the house to try and escape the city, but of course this does not work and the game prologue does not have a happy ending because game developers love to rip our hearts out and stomp on them. Shortly after a certain someone’s death, the game rolls credits into the actual game play. During these credits, there is a recap of what has been going on in The Last of Us universe since baby girl died. From thousands of deaths, to failed vaccinations, to the government being overthrown, and finally to the take over of Firefly. The credits were a very nice touch to the prologue of this game. I love the background information it gave. After the credits we fast forward to Joel, twenty years later.

The first eighteen minutes of The Last of Us got me so emotionally invested that I may have cried a little. Within EIGHTEEN MINUTES I knew that Joel had a daughter and a brother. I knew that he lost his daughter, Sarah, tragically and for no good reason. I wish I knew what happened to Tommy, his brother, but I’m sure you find out later in the game. I know that Joel was a single father. I have no clue what happened to Sarah’s mom, but I don’t really care because I know Joel loved his daughter. Within eighteen minutes, I knew that Joel and his new *companion*, Tess, are after a guy named Robert. Robert had his men jump Tess and now they are going to get him. Thus ends the first eighteen minutes.

I’m still in awe that within FOURTEEN minutes I became so emotionally invested in Sarah that I was literally crying. HOmygosh.

I am a little upset that I didn’t get to meet Ellie within the first eighteen minutes, but I guess I’ll get over it. I guess.

ellie

A big KUDOS to NaughtyDog and their excellent story tellers. I cannot wait to actually play this game.

Archetypes in Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons

Last month was the first time I ever played Brothers, and if you haven’t played it I recommend it. It’s really touching and has a good story. In this blog post, I will be discussing the different archetypes that can be found in the characters and the situations in the game! Let’s get started~

two-brothers

We’ll start with the little brother. At the beginning of the game, the little brother can fall under the archetype of the “Innocent Youth”. It may not seem that way through a standard play through, but if you pay close attention and interact with things around the game’s universe you can witness the younger brother acting quite childish. He throws things and sticks his tongue out at people, it’s kind of hilarious. You can also see this childishness through his weaknesses, such as his fear of water. Towards the end of the game, you see the younger brothers coming of age and his development from the “Innocent Youth” into the “Hero”. I won’t say how he comes into this role (because it will spoil the game), but he does it and it is FANtastic.

The older brother can be seen as a mix of the “Mentor” and the “Mother Figure”. The older brother is the “Mentor”, because the little brother follows in his footsteps and becomes the hero he needs to be. He can also be seen as the “Mother Figure”, because of how he takes care of his younger brother. Throughout the game, the older brother guides the “Innocent Youth” figure and ensures his safety (pay close attention to scenes with water).

The only other character archetype that really needs to be discussed is the “Villain”, which just so happens to be death. For those who have played this game, you already know, for those who have not, I’m not going to go in depth because it will spoil the game. Just trust me when I say that death is definitely the antagonist.

Situational archetypes are also a strong thing in Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. The most obvious archetype is the “Journey”. At the beginning of the game, the two brothers start their journey to find the elixir that will save their father. Very touching. The second notable archetype would be the “Good Versus Evil”. As I said before, the younger brother is the protagonist while death is the antagonist. Throughout the game, the player will witness the younger brothers struggle against death and how he matures into learning to handle death. The final situational archetype that is extremely apparent throughout Brothers would be the “Initiation”. The “Initiation” is when the main character goes through an experience that leads him towards maturity. This happens at the end of the game when ~another~ tragic event happens to the younger brother and he ascends from the “Innocent Youth” archetype into the “Hero”.

the-heros-journey

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons is full of archetypes, including ones that I did not list. I hope you play it and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Resident Evil 7: Biohazard & Paratextual Elements

Resident Evil 7: Biohazard is set to launch Tuesday, January 24 and, I don’t know about everyone else, but I AM PUMPED. In Resident Evil 7, Capcom is pulling all of the stops to ensure that this sequel will bring back all of the fantastic horror elements of the original games.

But, wait! Before I go into a ramble about how bad I want to play this game, there is a more specific reason for this post. PARATEXTUAL ELEMENTS, we’re going to discuss them. By golly, did the marketing team for this game do a FANtastic job. It has been a long time since I have seen so many people (including myself) excited about a new Resident Evil game. “But Haleigh, how does this relate to paratextual elements?” Well, I’m glad you asked. For those who don’t know, paratextual elements are the texts surrounding one specific text such as those little game handbooks no one actually reads, strategy guides, the synopsis of the game on the back of the case (that you also probably didn’t actually read, who does?), AND, in this specific case, marketing used to promote said game. I know what you’re thinking, “But Haleigh, are trailers for a game really considered paratextual elements?” Yes, they are and here’s why…

“While TV credit sequences and trailers are two different elements of two different industries, they can both be considered in Gerard Genette’s terminology: a paratext, framing devices that are not always considered the primary object of attention but that form a network of elements that combine to inform and shape the interpretation of the text” (this article).

Boom. So the marketing that was created to promote Resident Evil 7 is used to inform people about the game and shape interpretations (and expectations *don’t let me down Capcom*) for the game. Anyways. Let’s get to it.

header

The above picture is the first piece of marketing I ever saw for the game in question. It doesn’t say a whole lot about the game, but it still got me kind of excited. The Resident Evil franchise is one of the first I ever got into (thanks for letting four year old me watch you play dad), so its probably a given that I’d be interested to know more about it. From the picture I did gather that the marketing team got creative with the “EVII”, so that’s nice. I also took careful notice of the picture of the person next to the text. It does not give anything away about the game just by looking, but it looks kinda creepy and its cool. Moving on.

This is the trailer for the game.

I tried to just put the video in the post, but I couldn’t get to work so if you haven’t seen the trailer, go ahead and hit that link because it’s really good. Back to paratextual elements. With knowing little to nothing about the game, watching the trailer immediately showed me that I would be playing from a first-person perspective in what seems to be an old, rundown farmhouse. A minute into the video, viewers will see a newspaper that says “Ghosts Sighted in Bayou”, which gives future players the info of where this creepy farmhouse is. Throughout the video, it flashes between scenes of the playable character walking through the farmhouse to pictures of dead bodies, pieces of dead bodies, and the fairly gross items/trash laying around said farmhouse. There is also scenes where the playable character is shown being chased, dragged, and beaten which leads to the information that you probably won’t actually have a weapon for a majority of the game. To add to the creepiness factor of the video… The song playing in the background is an old American folk song called “Go Tell Aunt Rhody” (This is the original song). The original is actually about Aunt Rhody’s goose dying and this can be related back to that whole being stuck in a creepy farmhouse deal.

Those pictures above are from my personal camera roll. Not only did the marketing team release really good videos and pictures/posters to promote the game, but they also traveled the US in those sweet Umbrella vans to promote. On November 5th of last year they were in Oklahoma City near Penn Square Mall. Not only did I get some really cool *signed* posters, but they also had a VR demo for Resident Evil 7: Biohazard. I consider that little teaser of a demo to be a paratextual element, because it promoted the game and showed me a little more what it was going to be about.

Unlike the other Resident Evil games, Capcom has done a pretty good job at not over-sharing what 7 is going to be about and what will happen in game (kudos Capcom). By analyzing the paratextual elements surronding Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, I actually know very little about the game other than the setting and ~possible~ plot points, which has kept me fairly interested in what’s going to happen. I’m excited to play. Tuesday can’t come fast enough.

Conflict in Bioshock

Bioshock has been one of my favorite games since the first time I played it in 2008. Little 14 year old Haleigh was so enthralled and slightly scared by this magical land filled with druggies and large robot men that followed creepy little girls with glowing eyes… Yeah. Anyways. From the very beginning of Bioshock, the player knows that it is brimming with conflict, external and internal.

When you start the game, you are shown a black screen that says “1960 Mid-Atlantic” and then it cuts to a man named Jack on an airplane who is smoking a cigarette and looking at a picture of his parents. He tells the players that his parents said he was destined for great things and then informs us that his parents were right. Then, commence plane crash into ocean. This is our first example of external conflict in the game. You never find out where exactly Jack was intending to fly to, but we know, wherever that may have been, he obviously doesn’t make it there. Jack almost drowns and then you make him swim to the large tower in the middle of the ocean where you begin your decent into Rapture.

splicer

When the bathysphere reaches Rapture, Jack encounters a splicer for the first time. This splicer is a female and she proceeds to kill Johnny and then attack the Bathysphere. This opens the game to a new conflict. At this point the player knows that splicers are DANGEROUS and they want you dead. Throughout the game, Jack will be in constant conflict with splicers of many different types.

Shortly after encountering the first few splicers, you get your first plasmid (they basically give you super powers, the first one lets you shoot lightning from your hand). This knocks Jack unconscious and puts you into a cut scene. During this cut scene, you witness two splicers trying to take your ADAM (ADAM is essentially a liquid that you can accumulate throughout the game and can be used to improve get Jack new abilities or improve the abilities he already has). They are chased off ny a little sister who is accompanied by a big daddy. This shows another form of conflict. Not only do you have to beat these splicers, but you also have to beat these big daddies at some point or another.

Later in the game, Jack will have to face J.S. Steinman. Steinman was the best surgeon Rapture had and now (during the time of the game) is a raving lunatic due to his ADAM addiction. Steinman is one of the boss battles. Another boss that Jack has to face is Peach Wilkins. Wilkins is encountered in Neptune’s Bounty. He comes off as pretty friendly at first, but then his paranoia gets the best of him. In order to progress in the game, Jack has to defeat the turrets, splicer army, and Peach himself.

The final boss Jack will have to defeat is… ATLAS. WHAAAA. PLOT TWIST. From the time you step out of the bathysphere up until the end of the game, Atlas has been your guide. He got you through your first encounter with a splicer and with just about every thing else also. It turns out his real name is Frank Fontaine, owner of Fontaine Futuristics (the developers of ADAM). Depending on the choices made during game play, Fontaine can tend to really rip you a new one.

“But Haleigh, all of that was EXTERNAL conflict, you said we’d talk about INTERNAL also!” Yes, yes, I know. I’m working on it. As I said before, the final boss fight with Fontaine is GREATLY affected by the choices you make during gameplay. Remember me telling you about those little sisters? Yes? Well, the internal conflict has EVERY THING to do with them. During game play, when you defeat a big daddy, it leaves the little sister alone and scared. When you encounter your first little sister you will have Atlas yelling at you to HARVEST the little girl and you will have Tenenbaum yelling at you to save her. This is a decision you will be faced with throughout the game. If you harvest the little sisters, you will obtain more ADAM from them than if you save them, BUT if you save them ALL or at least most of them, it will help you later on in the game (such as with getting presents or saving your ass during the final battle with Fontaine).

Bioshock is such an amazing game and I highly recommend giving it a play.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑