Welcome, hi, good day, hello, what's up?! I'm the Sketchwhale!
I make games, talk about them, draw comics and post sketches.

onsdag den 22. januar 2014

Space to Play

Reading Howell’s Geography of Identities (not as thoroughly as when I was actually in university), I thought of the idea of connecting with a video game. Through both the game play and narrative, Link’s Awakening was something I connected with immensely. Recently 4 Heroes of Light and Mass Effect 2 too. Grand Theft Auto 4 though, only (not really a bad thing) through its game play.

Perhaps it’s due to a combination of the interactions and visuals. The intense degree of abstraction in Link’s Awakening and 4 Heroes of Light gave my mind an immense room to play, and the systems as well. Mass Effect 2 overcame its strive for visual realism by its hard work towards letting me feel in control of much of its narrative. Mass Effect 2 and Grand Theft Auto 4 featured very playful game play that allowed me to connect with the games and their settings, but the narrative of Grand Theft Auto 4 wasn’t play and the graphics as well, left no room for my imagination. This is all just musing on my own experiences, trying to reason with my own conclusions (not good detective work).
Writing my Bachelor’s Thesis on video games, I came across the notion of play being what happens in the mind as we observe art (Kant, I think?). Which means that playing games is like doing what happens in our mind in the event of art. And if John Cleese can be believed, creativity happens when we play, so a cycle begins.

But this notion made me think that the reason I sometimes don’t connect with video games, is because they don’t let my mind play. As in, because graphics are too realistic, there is nothing left for my mind to play with, so I don’t connect.

Why is connect in italics? That is because I’m questioning the idea of identifying with a game. This idea of relating to characters in games in the same sense as I do to characters in literature and film. Because I have this idea that the point of games are to play them, not to be exposed to them. I believe (for now. I’m young, I drink a lot and my mind keeps changing) that I don’t passively experience a game, but actively play with it, and therefore that it's unnecessary for me to identify with myself. I am the one playing and therefore the idea of identifying during game play is mismatched. When the narrative and game play are separate (which they often are), identifying becomes very essential (for the narrative), but then it is no longer the game I am connecting with.

Connecting though, is the wrong word as well. It is too easy to misunderstand. Identifying is when something external is presented and I (can’t help myself to) relate to it or not relate to it.

Space to play. That is what becomes important to me in games. I don’t play movies and books (even though they can continue to play in my head afterwards). But I do play games. Identifying with template characters like Link or avatars like Shepard isn’t what is essential if I am playing. Link’s world has space for me to play, and Shepard’s narrative (and the character itself) is a space for me to play. This idea applies to visuals as well: Realistic graphics allow me to identify with a character (or in the case of graphics that were once realistic, but are now laughable: not identify), but abstracted graphics give my mind space to play, and allows for creativity, making me, the player, in turn, the artist.

Ingen kommentarer:

Send en kommentar