Games as art. (Gaming)

by cheapLEY @, Sunday, September 18, 2022, 17:20 (377 days ago) @ INSANEdrive

EDIT: Spoilers for The Last of Us to follow, just in case.

I’ve still been thinking about this.

Partly it’s presentation. I think it would be totally possible to make a film of The Last of Us that could get like 95% of the way towards being the same experience, give me the same feelings as the game. I got attached to Ellie and Joel because they were well developed characters in a compelling story. Movies are great at doing that!

That extra 5% though . . . it’s not essential for a fantastic job experience, but it’s something only the game could do. It’s hard to nail down, and it’s not consistent even within the game, but there is an experience and emotion that only comes from playing the game. Look at the end. When I burst into that operating room and saw Ellie and realized what was happening, I shot that doctor in the face immediately, no hesitation. Lots of stories are told around the internet about people trying to find ways around having to kill the doctor before realizing the game simply would not progress until you did. Not me. Joel and I were on the same page at that moment, and I pulled that trigger without hesitation. If I had been watching that movie, I’d have understood and sympathized and even agreed with Joel doing so, but there is a unique feeling an experience to playing that as a video game and actually pulling the trigger myself. You can argue that falls under “presentation,” but it’s deeper than that.

In regards to It Takes Two, it’s a similarly blurry line. Presentation certainly has a lot to do with it, but it’s more about . . . design ethos or something. I still haven’t figured out how to articulate it. It was just a joy to play a game that was simply fun to play on a moment to moment level, with no sort of deeper intentions. No extraneous progression systems, no illusion of trying to tell some grand story, just fun gameplay for its own sake. There’s a level roughly halfway through the game that is a winter town inside of a snow globe. It’s legitimately one of the most magical areas I’ve seen in a game. It’s not like it’s some technical marvel that’s just unfathomably cool, but it was just neat. You can ice skate around, you can throw snowballs at each other, you can ride a ferris wheel. None of it really means anything, but it all just feels really great and it all exists for its own sake just because it’s fucking neat. It’s silly, but it really felt truly magical in a way I can’t quite explain.

I think for lots of people, I am probably really overselling the game. But it really hit me as a sort of reminder of just playing video games as a kid when they were just fun. It reminded me of playing Mario 64 for the first time and the wonder of running around those levels and finding all the little things.

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