Will video games be influenced by the daring character and story triumphs popping out of Netflix and HBO? Stranger Things have occurred.
“Westworld is the best TV show about video games I’ve seen. It’s about day one bugs and patching mistakes on the fly to keep players entertained and big business happy.”
Warning: this weblog submit has spoilers for The OA, Westworld, Glitch and Stranger Things.
I completed watching The OA this week, Netflix’s near-death-small-town-escapists drama. I discovered it gripping, darkly humorous, unsettling and creative.
The OA, and likewise Westworld, Stranger Things and Glitch, all had an impact on me previously 12 months. Not simply emotional, however real pleasure at sitting down and making an attempt to anticipate the surprising. Feeling genuinely stunned at twists, attending to know disagreeable characters, having fun with the breaking of storytelling conventions. And shock at a number of the content material on display, from brutal violence to some fairly scorching intercourse. I can’t consider any mainstream video games in the identical interval which have taken such daring steps with such regularity.
This isn’t to slag off video video games. But relatively I’m hoping that reveals from Netflix and HBO’s daring golden age of TV can actually affect online game design and storytelling. Whether The OA’s story is fulfilling or wilfully quirky for the sake of it, you’ll be able to’t deny it’s intriguing. Abused prisoners can journey by way of dimensions by performing dance strikes handed on by angels? Compare that to what we’ve bought to look ahead to in video games this 12 months; For Honor is about vikings preventing samurai. Where’s the creativeness in that?
There are parallels between these reveals and video video games, and so they’re a lot extra attention-grabbing than than slavishly converting a game into a TV show or movie. The OA throws up crimson herrings (or are they plot holes?) and some left turns, with an ending that comes as a suckerpunch. The last episode seems to be a disappointment on objective, a easy clarification and dismissal of the earlier seven hours of fantasy. Until these final 5 minutes when it throws an additional curveball proper at your face. I used to be floored by it. I can’t recall a sport that’s achieved that to me just lately. Thinking again it seems like one thing Eternal Darkness or Metal Gear has tried previously. It’s fucking with the viewers similtaneously entertaining them.
Westworld is the very best TV present about video video games I’ve seen. It’s about day one bugs and patching errors on the fly to maintain gamers entertained and massive enterprise glad. Surgeons reprogramme AI and reuse belongings to avoid wasting prices with disastrous outcomes. An egotistical author crafts ongoing storylines to fit into what is actually a massively multiplayer world that’s starting to disintegrate. Designers are introduced down by their very own over-ambition. New experiences are pressured into Westworld like DLC to a sport because the creatives disagree with the corporates. It’s Red Dead Redemption: The TV Series.
Stranger Things is a curious one too. It’s like pixel artwork and indie 2D aspect scrolling platformers, or the present development for remakes, or chiptunes re-released on colored vinyl and bought for $100. It’s nostalgia repackaged and introduced updated carrying all of the 1980s influences on its sleeve. It turned a cultural phenomenon final 12 months. It was TVs Pokemon Go.
Have you seen Glitch? It’s about individuals getting a second life sort-of the place they left off and consists of what any gamer will immediately recognise as permadeath. (It’s additionally consists of probably the most Australian response to seeing somebody wake from the lifeless I’ve ever seen: “Was it some kind of satanic ritual? Or were you just on the piss?”).
So perhaps we’re already seeing TV influencing video games, and video games affect TV. But video games take so lengthy to make. What’s recent and thrilling on a small display can’t presumably be interpolated into video games till years later.
A working example can be The Walking Dead’s Norman Reedus in Kojima’s re-imaging of Silent Hill. The TV collection has misplaced darling standing even amongst diehard followers and the sport is lengthy lifeless. Maybe Death Stranding, that includes Reedus and Hannibal’s Mads Mikkelsen, is the one to look at. Kojima definitely has an encouraging monitor file of untamed experimentation in million-selling video video games.
“The most interesting creative experiments are being taken on TV. Storytelling is being flipped. Characters are fascinatingly unpleasant. Sex is clumsy.”
I’ve interviewed sufficient builders, publishers, creatives and fits to know they’re at all times uncomfortable name-checking modern video games as influences, even when the comparisons are clear. Instead they cite TV or movie, or in the event that they should, retro video games. But it’s okay to say your artwork is influenced by your friends, contemporaries and rivals. Music does it on a regular basis. It’s nothing to be ashamed of.
Maybe as video games grew up it was essential to distance them from Hollywood by proudly stating “we have our own writers now”. Ones who perceive the medium. That was an enormous step, however wouldn’t or not it’s nice if mainstream online game tales embraced the experimentation we’re seeing in TV proper now? We might even see glimpses of it, nevertheless it’s usually smothered in 20-plus hours of standard trad video games stuff. There have been just a few outliers corresponding to Life Is Strange, Ladykiller In A Bind, even Firewatch or Telltale’s current work reaching smaller audiences, however nothing that may evaluate to the dominant attain of the ever present Netflix.
The most attention-grabbing artistic experiments are being taken on TV proper now, and so they’re not for a distinct segment viewers. Storytelling is being flipped by the manipulation of time. The finest characters are fascinatingly disagreeable or relatably damaged. Contrasting settings that shouldn’t work are efficiently fused collectively. Violence and intercourse is upfront, messy and clumsy. Endings aren’t glad however open to interpretation.
As a artistic medium, TV appears to be doing all of the scene-stealing.
Or perhaps I’m lacking this in video games proper now. What video games would you say try daring experiments with story-telling, narrative construction and character?