Editorial: Do Games Need To Be More Emotional?
Here's the thing: when developers first attempted to institute realistic emotions into video games, it was amateur-hour for quite some time. We all remember the cheesy and downright painful and although the industry has taken great strides since, I'm wondering if everything is still too one-dimensional...
As advanced as games have become, the writers still haven't managed to really push past the predictable and even cliched. Perhaps the Metal Gear Solid franchise and a few RPGs here and there are the exceptions to the rule, but considering all the technology and voice talent designers have at their disposal, I'd like to think we could explore more of the human condition through video games. At this point, it seems inevitable that games will continue to inch closer to movies in terms of realistic special effects and CGI and all that, but artistic drama will be left far behind. For my part, I expect feeling to be a part of my entertainment experiences; I've long since grown bored with new and flashier ways to blow something up. Unfortunately, this adolescent emphasis seems to have rubbed off on the video game industry.
Don't get me wrong; I'm all for technological advances, but when we have to sacrifice the emotional IQ of the characters we see on screen, the production loses a great deal of appeal in my eyes. When I go to the movie theater (which is rare these days), I want to see some substance, but I'm starting to wonder if I'll have to spend more time at stage theaters. The good news is that I've seen fantastic potential in games and I freely admit to having cried at certain video games in the past. When Aeris died...? The end of MGS3...? C'mon, if you didn't have a few tears in your eyes, you were either braindead or a robot. But how come I haven't had more experiences like this? Given the rapid rate of advancement in the industry, one would assume I would've had many, many more. Perhaps we just need better scripts. Perhaps developers need to realize that the performances are quickly becoming crucially important; almost as important as the gameplay, graphics, sound and other technical categories.
I just hope there are enough gamers out there who will reward someone who eventually produces an intensely emotional game script. Because one day, someone is gonna try and if they're not rewarded, we'll just be stuck with more over-the-top action titles and FPSs. Not that that's a bad thing, per se...I'm just saying.
8/14/2009 Ben Dutka