« EL-336 Writing Material Turkle: The Vividness of a Distant Reality | Main | EL-336 Oral Presentation on Writing Material-The Red Queens on Her Head »

EL-336 Aarseth Cybertext Video Texts

"When I fire a virtual laser gun in a computer game such as Space Invaders, where, and what, am "I"? (Aarseth p, 162)
I had to pick the above passage because I loved Space Invaders. I can remember when I had an Atari, that was the coolest game ever.
The computer adventure game's formula seems fairly easy, add one popular fiction genre, create a background story, a dash of map, characters to interact with, add a plot tree or graph with several outcomes, a pinch of descriptions, dialogue, error messages, and a vocabulary for the player, and you have yourself a game.
The problem I seem to think I have with those type of games, RPG; more or less, is that the computer does all the hard work for us. It is the mind of the game, it determines the outcome. All the player does is sits behind the wheel and steers.
An example of this is found in the game Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles. Yes, the fun is shooting infected zombies, while picking up weapons and healing potions but the computer does everything else. It basically plays the game for me, it walks, talks, and directs the my character in the places it wants me to be, not me. All I get to do is shoot things, which is not a bad thing.
The brain is not ours, it is a digitized version sucked into a computer game.


TrackBack URL for this entry:


All games are like that, to some degree. Whether you're playing Resident Evil, an RPG, or Madden, the computer's "brain" processes hundreds or even thousands of lines of code behind the scenes in order to make the on-screen action work the way it does.

RE:UC is an on-rails shooter, a very distinct game genre that was first popularized in arcades before the rise of FPS games on home consoles. Typically, such games don't do extraordinarily well on home consoles critically or commercially, because they usually require extra technology (a light gun) that the consumer has to pay for, and because they suffer from the problem you describe (they offer limited, restrictive, and repetitive gameplay). However, Capcom (and simultaneously, Sega, with their "Ghost Squad" game) brought the on-rails shooter genre to the Wii console because they realized its technology is already set up to support that kind of game. These games are usually (not always, but usually) budget-priced (about $30 for the Wii) precisely because they don't offer the same thrills that more interactive games provide.

Personally, I love RPGs, and in defense of their gameplay, I'd argue that they actually require our minds to do more work than most games in most other genres. Sure, the computer handles most of the complex calculations (who wants to do the math to calculate the damage to an enemy every time you enter the command to swing your sword or cast a spell, anyways), but RPGs usually have complicated combat, trade, and character development systems in which many different rules, effects, and customizable options come into play. In order to be successful, the player has to learn how to use all of these systems to his or her advantage (which requires much more critical thinking than, say, lining up a symbol with an enemy on the screen and pressing "X" to fire a bullet in that direction).

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)

[Future Spam Check]