Thursday, May 01, 2008

The Second Level

There is room for a thing to be about more than what it is about.

And you don't have to be frightened of that, and you don't have to say it out loud. It's not an enemy to fight, and it's not a flag to salute, and it's not a check box at the bottom of a form. There is room.

I think people are scared of this. I think writers of movies and creators of TV and developers of video games are a little scared of it. I think they see a line, and on one side is Die Hard and on the other is Schindler's List. Your creation is entertaining, or your creation is moving, but it is not both. But they are wrong. There is room.

Fight Club is an action movie about male identity in a post-nuclear world. Dawn of the Dead is a zombie flick about Western consumerism. Cloverfield is a monster movie about September 11. Depth is not a characteristic delineated by genre. There is room.

The key is honesty. Creating engaging material comes from honestly identifying and exploring that which holds power over you. Each level that you abstract a thing from its emotional base drains that thing of its essential value. You don't have to abstract it. You can stay true to that core. There is room.

Halo, Final Fantasy X and Gears of War were all good games. They were all games that weren't afraid to mix a story into their gameplay, all games that were given the time and the money to do things the way that they wanted to do things. But they could they go a step further, and be about more than what they are about?

Yes.

There is room.


Please visit the Round Table's Main Hall for links to all entries.

6 comments:

Corvus said...

I found Cloverfield to also address the rise of social media and how it changes our relationship to tragedy when we're in front of, or behind, a camera. The best shot in the movie was when the camera framed a cell phone camera that framed the main character.

and... Round Table? It'd make for a nice closing post for the April topic.

Greg Tannahill said...

Wasn't April on "Games You Love"? I know I haven't done a Round Table in a while, mostly because I haven't trusted myself to blog to a schedule, but I'm happy to submit it if you're interested in taking it.

Corvus said...

Nope, it was on theme in games. I wrote the blurb poorly, I think. Regardless, your post nicely sums up my attitude about the need for theme in games.

And by the way, you've been missed at the table. Since you last joined us, we've moved to a full calendar month time frame for each topic. So... we'd love to have you join in more often!

Greg Tannahill said...

Huzzah! I certainly shall.

Greg Tannahill said...

By the way, I'm having a heap of difficulty connecting to Man Bytes Blog tonight - other sites seem unaffected. Are you having server problems?

Corvus said...

I don't seem to be having problems connecting on my end. I'll keep an eye on things and see if I notice anything.