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Groundhog Day

I watched Groundhog Day and can’t really say that I enjoyed it as much now as I did when I was younger. I hadn’t seen the movie in a long time, but I seem to remember it being much funnier and with less emphasis on the romantic comedy. But then again I guess when I was younger I wasn’t necessarily that keen on details. Now, to the meat of the entry, replayability as demonstrated through the movie. The first time that Phil relives the day he ignores his duties as an anchor/weatherman and wanders around the town, he alters what he did the day before. Its interesting to look at this as his rejection of completing the task at hand and comparing it to the similar rejection of game rules in the short film “My Visit to Liberty City.” Phil is making conscious choices through out these days that he is reliving. If I were to categorize his experience of conscious game choice I would pair it with the sandbox, discussed in our class blog on GTA3.

Though it was not as if his “game world” did not have limits. There is obviously a time limit; 24 hours to beat the game. After all he could essentially never leave the town until he achieved the task/goal which remained elusive until trial by error paid off and he figured it out. I found that every time Phil committed suicide it was like he was hitting the restart button on the game that was his life. I thought about comparing this to the feeling that a gamer gets when they are frustrated with the way a game is going, they either turn it off completely or restart it. Phil was trying to do both of these things by taking his own life (but more so he wanted to just die = turn off the game). Phil’s frustration with the “unbeatable game” known as Groundhog Day is evident again as he smashes the clock morning after morning. When you play a game over and over and don’t advance, this type of feeling can take over. Phil’s experiences with replayability mirrored in my opinion (and I hate to admit it) an IF game. Phil tried a variety of solutions until he found one that worked.

I liked the statement Phil made at the end of the cycle when he woke up with Rita and proclaimed, “Anything different is good.” I thought about his entire experience of getting to know the town of “hicks” that he once despised. He came to know, love and accept a different lifestyle. In the end Phil was profoundly changed and his Xenophobia was gone. I was thinking about Koster’s points about games emphasizing outdated messages like xenophobia. Is it possible that what happened to Phil is a better message that modern games should be delivering? It is one centered on initial judgement, experience and then a different opinion in the end. It is one that teaches acceptance, through replayability. I readily related the relief felt by Phil at the end of the movie to the relief felt when a player beats a game after long and tumultuous hours/days/months of gaming.

In the end the solution was so simple and Phil even got what he wanted. He became a celebrity, only it was not on t.v. it was amongst the towns people that had gained respect for him on the last relived day. He solved his problem, but in a different way. This is another reason it reminded me of IF. The “game” was structured in a way that everyone won in the end and achieved their goals. Replayability in games is a luxury that we are allowed depending on the game’s designer. In the case of Groundhog Day we can assume that the “game designer” is some type of higher power teaching Phil a lesson.

More thoughts on Groundhog Day

Comments (1)

It's interesting that Phil the TV celebrity was so shallow. His viewing public knew him well, it seems. He's not recognized or given special treatment as a celebrity the little community where he's destined to stay, so the medium of the TV set doesn't improve his lot. Is anyone familiar with the medieval morality play Everyman, in which only Good Deeds go with Everyman into his grave, thus preparing him for heaven?

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