In the course of the usual valuation quarrels, which rage about every halfway popular game, it comes especially in the later course of the forum posts, when all the little children (not only in the biological sense) have let go of their displeasure about the mean evaluation of the evil editor-uncle about their current favorite game, sometimes to very interesting and multi-layered discussions. Currently, there is a little digression in the 4P-Forum for the review of Far Cry 4 in the direction of “Characterization in video games with special regard to villains”.
Basically, it’s easy to see that video games, in comparison to other media like film or literature, hardly have any fascinating characters and character drawings rarely go beyond a simple black and white scheme.
Currently I’m watching “Orange is the New Black“. And only because Netflix had pointed this out to me in the last few days. Because in all probability I would like that, too. So penetrating that I was almost inclined to rate this series with a peppered “You don’t tell what to do! star” so that it will never be suggested to me again. Good that I didn’t do it, Netflix knows my viewing habits and tastes quite well by now. NATURALLY I like the series. At first it didn’t really interest me because I couldn’t really get much out of the prison scenario and still can’t get anything out of it. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaber …
This series, like pretty much all series that I like very much, has characters that grab me and fascinate me very quickly. From which I want to learn more. From whom I want to see and hear more. Not because they are particularly unusual and unusual, but because they work on an interpersonal level. They appeal to me.
From person to person. In film, TV and literature there are a lot of characters that appeal to me on a human level, that I find fascinating and interesting. They can be good people, they can be bad people. They can be shady people. They can be people who just want to live their lives and do sometimes good, sometimes bad, depending on how you want to classify their actions and their consequences. Complex characters that are more than just stenciled, simple, simple clichés.
This series, like pretty much all series that I like very much, has characters that grab me and fascinate me very quickly. From which I want to learn more. From whom I want to see and hear more. Not because they are particularly unusual and unusual, but because they work on an interpersonal level. They appeal to me. From person to person. In film, TV and literature there are a lot of characters that appeal to me on a human level, that I find fascinating and interesting. They can be good people, they can be bad people. They can be shady people. They can be people who just want to live their lives and do sometimes good, sometimes bad, depending on how you want to classify their actions and their consequences. Complex characters that are more than just stenciled, simple, simple clichés.
Video games that have such characters can be enumerated on a few hands. I would even say that a person’s ten fingers are enough. In comparison to film and television, video games have a virtually waterless desert in terms of character depth and diversity, in contrast to the fertile landscapes of the Amazon Delta.
There are several reasons for this lack.
1. Games are still a young medium.
The carnival character, which for a long time applied to film, still prevails. For a long time, films were strange, crude fairground amusements for the common people. Short, action-packed episodes. Simple, simple stories. Does it look familiar when you think of the image that games still dominate in public? A picture that can’t be completely dismissed.
2. Games are still dominated by the majors.
Sure, also movies and series and books are “made” in the first
Films are made on the drawing board, almost obsessed with detail, assembled according to the most precise target group analyses, and then nobody wants to see the part after all. Although there is everything in it that has earned so much money with other films. But in contrast to the games industry there is something in the film industry, not much, but more people who have recognized that you drive better in the long run if you at least occasionally allow some creative quality and hire people who know how to make good movies and series.
Take Disney, for example. In and of itself, I think Disney is THE devil because of its attitude to copyright. But when it comes to Marvel film adaptations, you’ve been very wise so far to let a good mix of veterinarians like Joe Johnston and Joss Whedon (as head guru writer and coordinator of the independent Marvel Cinematic Universe) and talented newcomers like the Russo brothers make it easy. Well, as in the case of old master Kenneth Branagh (first Thor-film) this can also go down in the pants, but overall this is more of a hit than Miss in terms of perfectly produced popcorn entertainment on an unexpectedly high level.
Is that what games do?
No. The game majors are still dominated by accountants who can only count money and who, in their rat race to present investors with new growth rates year after year, let their franchises burn out creatively in an almost suicidal way. Sure, so far it’s gone halfway well, but EA is already the first company to perfect this business principle, and it has been a failure of this business principle that has driven it against the wall with Karacho. Are the others learning from this fate? It doesn’t look that way. Year after year, the usual sequels produced at great expense are blown onto the market, because the market NOCH takes up an enormous amount of these hollow-bellied, undemanding fairground amusements.
3. Are games at all suitable to represent multi-layered characters?
I deliberately formulated this as a question. Because the stylistic devices used in passive media to add depth to a character are not always convertible into games on a one-to-one basis. So is the lack of convincing characters due to the medium itself? Or the ignorance of many game designers as to how this can be achieved with playful means, even if they are allowed to do the same? I’m not sure yet. Maybe games aren’t ready yet, maybe not enough people have had enough good
If you look at TV series that have long left the big brother of yesteryear, the film genre, behind in terms of dramaturgy and claim, it took several decades until you found a narrative form that made it possible to tell far better stories than was possible in a film. The police series “Hill Street Blues” at the beginning of the 80s anticipated much of this and brought it to life for the first time, which we almost take for granted in series like “Breaking Bad” today. Before Hill Street Blues there were fixed rules in the TV series business, almost all of which were in the use of the series as advertising media. For a long time, only the accountants specified what was produced and how. Advertising customers could not be deterred, as they wanted to present themselves in a reliable and “good” environment.
There is no doubt in my mind that there will be such innovators in the games sector. The combination of crowdfunding and the Internet alone has released so many creative forces that there can be no turning back and certainly no stagnation. The only question for me is: When will this be recognizable for us? Do these games already exist? Is this development taking place in many small steps, so that we are already in the middle of it, without being able to understand it and classify it correctly? Is what the Houser brothers do with the GTA series in terms of dramaturgy and characterization such an innovator? How far is the step from a Nico Belic or Trevor Philips to a Walter White?