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How a game transcends its basic essence and limitations to elevate itself to become a superior work of art


#1

Though this started as a response to a comment about Red Dead Redemption 2, it became a mini essay about a subject that is quite dear to me, and so I made it its own thing.

It honestly surprises me you value the opinion of ppl so much, whether those be reviewers or other random ppl (who might or might not know what they’re talking about and might or might not have their reasons for trashing a game).

You mentioned an almost similar statement when it came to Bioshock Infinite in fact.

I’ve stopped watching/reading reviews years ago, and I dont care what ppl think about a game; I look at it myself and see it for what it is. That’s why some of my favorite games are games I’ve never played and never will. (Even if some of the greatest PS [Naughty Dog, for example] games were to come to PC eventually), I’d never play at least some of them myself because I actually sat through their whole playthrough watching and experiencing it myself, as if I was sitting there while my friend plays it, as we’ve all done when we were younger, taking turns or watching or having friends watch while we played. So I’d only play those I really wanted to experience again.

You shouldn’t value what others say so much; you’ll miss out on a lot. See for yourself. You still haven’t played Bioshock Infinite, for example. I’ve now finally played Bioshock 1, and yes, Bioshock 1 is superior to Infinite in its gameplay, settting, and atmosphere, and it is the superior game for it. It is truly among the greatest games, but it is just a game. It isn’t more than that. Just like HL1+2, which I can finally say I’ve completed, lol, and the same goes, great games, but nothing more than that.

Their narratives are there to drive the gameplay, while Infite’s gameplay is there to drive the story.

Infinite’s story, characters, characters’ interrelationships and how those evolve and what those all contain and reveal completely blow 1’s out of the water. It does not even compare. You cannot compare Jack, Fontaine (and Atlas), Cohen, and Ryan to Infinite’s characters. They are mere tools which duly fulfill their function, as game characters must do, compared to Booker DeWitt, Elizabeth, the Lutece twins, Fitzroy, and Comstock (and his wife).

You cannot compare its rather basic story (including a plot twist you figure out well before it actually comes) to the interwoven intricacies, on sooooo many levels, presented by Infinite’s plot, all the way up to the point that one portal, in that one wall, finally, closes.

And that is how Infinite becomes something more than a game. It transcends it’s ‘being merely a game’ and becomes a superior work of art that can give u sleepless nights, even months or years after having played it.

This is a quality very few games possess. The Last of Us is one of them, just through its story and characters, just through Joel, his backstory, who he already is before he meets Ellie, all the way to the end and the decisions that are made, and how, and why, and what it contains and means and will mean for those characters going forward, after the game is actually over even.

That is how some games transcend the essence and limitations of being a game and elevate themselves to become superior works of art. They combine all forms of art into one and do it so magnificently and coherently, affecting one’s hearing, seeing, and feeling from so many dimensions that they become something far more than any other form of art by itself.

They might not be the best game, far from it, and they do not achieve that in the same way. Infinite does it like I explained. God of War (the last one) does it through it’s superior production values, the combination of its visual art, its music, its characters, its story, etc. The same goes for the Uncharted series. These are not the best games, but they are far superior in the experience that they offer compared to what ‘a game’ normally offers. They become something more than a game. GTA V flirts with it (way less because it is pulled down by its mediocrity in parts of its story and characters but it undoubtedly has superior production value).

And so I’m not saying RDR2 does it too (I don’t know, because I expected it to be coming to PC eventually, so I made sure not to spoil too much of it for myself), but it certainly is a candidate, and I’d be surprised if it doesn’t exceed GTA V in that.


#2

works for me


#3

lol, cool, i’m sure plenty of ppl will disagree, which is also perfectly fine


#4

You say I shouldn’t “value people’s opinions” so much without having any sort of idea to what level I do nor what I listen to. As everyone else I only have so much time to spend on games and prefer to spend it on games I’m sure I’ll enjoy. More than that I also have a very tight budget so I have to listen to what other people say about a game as part of my purchase decisions.

I don’t listen to reviews either, reviews are largely a waste of time, most reviewers don’t spend enough time with a game to know what they’re talking about. What I listen to is analytical critiques. People who spend an awful lot of time playing through a game, often 2-3 or more times to gain a deeper understanding and who then don’t just throw an opinion out there but also support that opinion with reasoning, examples and comparisons.

This means I don’t just take an opinion as my own for no reason. But because the idea was well presented, supported with facts and reasons to the point where I feel that I can take a stance on the idea myself.

When it comes to Bioshock infinite in particular it always stood out to me as a kind of pointless game over all. It was just another big spectacle shooter full of scripted events and limits imposed on the player in order to showcase the ideas of the developers. If I wanted someone to show me what is supposed to happen I’ll watch a movie. I play games to express myself through the game and weave my own stories, or at least feel like I’m part of the story being told. Infinite does not do that.

If you’re interested in the scrutiny of the story in Infinite then please go watch Mathewmatosis’ video on the subject as it’s one of the really good ones and it’s only a bit over half an hour. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VdNhwb7iuI4


#5

You say I shouldn’t “value people’s opinions” so much without having any sort of idea to what level I do nor what I listen to. As everyone else I only have so much time to spend on games and prefer to spend it on games I’m sure I’ll enjoy.

you’ll have a way better “objective” idea for yourself by spending whatever time you spend watching or reading others’ opinions just watching the game being played live on Twitch or wherever. Even YouTube doesn’t offer that “unfiltered” look at the game given that in the end it’s a carefully scripted compilation and montage of gameplay mixed with opinions.

the same can be said about Bioshock 1, in which u r given 1 single choice as well, and the same can be said about all linear single player games then. What’s the point of playing any linear single player game then?

that says it all and proves my point of view in a way i could never have done it myself. You’ve spoiled yr chance at enjoying this game and its story for yrself by simply watching something which defeats the purpose of doing so and completely ruins whatever opinions and feelings u could have experienced yrself.

why oh why would you watch something like that, effectively destroying the possibility of ever discovering it for yrself, before playing the game???

he himself says if someone’s interested in playing it they shouldn’t watch it in the first place, which kind of demonstrates that whoever does do that more or less has already decided the game is not for them in the first place but they surely want to know what’s “wrong” with it, and how would you even be able to say whether his opinion or understanding regarding it makes any sense in the first place? (and dont get me wrong, I do watch him and respect him very much, but i mean in general)

and even if u may claim that, no, u still would have played it if his critique was positive, well, u still would have spoiled and ruined the experience for yrself regardless


#6

I saw Infinite for what it was before it launched. I saw the way they promoted it and what they thought was their selling points and decided that was not worth my money or time. Years went by and everything I heard in passing about the game only strengthened my original judgement of it. This was the point at which I watched these sort of videos about it, I was never that interested in playing it.

These things takes time to produce, they’re not available at or around launch. They tend to show up years later because they take so much time to make. Yes infinite is spoiled for me, and you probably know how serious I am about spoilers, but it’s a game I wouldn’t have played at launch and didn’t play for years after so the purity of my experience with it was never going to be a thing either way.

No I can’t get a better idea of a game in 30 minutes on twitch than through a 30 minute presentation by someone who’ve thought deeply and concisely on the subject then spent months on how to convey those thoughts to their audience. It varies between types of games of course.

How do I know I can trust mathewmatosis?
I don’t have to. I listen to his arguments, I look into his supporting points and I analyze his reasoning behind the statements he makes. I largely do but I don’t have to trust him.

In regards to RDR2 I did watch a stream of that when it launched, watched most of the introductory chapter and what I saw there formed my initial opinion of the game. What I meant in the other thread about everything since launch I’ve heard is negative is not that I’ve read specific reviews or even analytical pieces as those have yet to come out. What I mean is more the general community background noise filtering through the internet the “zeitgeist” around it perhaps has for the largest part been that the game did not measure up to it’s predecessor and many of the most excited players came out of it largely disappointed.

In the end I believe you’re the one who values MY opinions far too highly. I didn’t really tell you NOT to buy the game (except for that part about supporting 2k douchbaggery, that’s the only reason where I’d be opposing someone elses purchase decisions) nor that the game is not possible for your to enjoy. I just present my opinion so that a wider range of opinions are represented and we don’t just have unchecked hype trains running all over the place.

Edit: since I missed touching this question

I don’t want to write a whole essay here so I’ll TRY to be brief.
A fully linear single player game can still be mechanically interesting to play, it may have interesting systems to engage with. Infinite does not have those. You can also have a game with a mostly rigid story and low mechanical complexity like Final Fantasy 6 but what it has is hugely compelling characters to interact with and learn about it also has a very interesting world to explore and things to learn. While that story is mostly rigid and linear, there’s a huge width to the story and world that is interesting and optional. Infinite does not have that.


#7

While you praise Infinite ( and it’s not generally viewed as super game ) you point at Last of us as great game ( and it’s generally viewed as super good ) i personally found it boring :slight_smile: SO you see there i’m going. Opinions. Different preferences and such.

God of War on the other hand i found to be excellent. Both story and game are just amazing on every aspect.

Uncharted (again viewed as one of Playstaton flagships ) ? One of the most boring game series i’ve had displeasure of playing.

And in the end RDR2 ? It’s good. But it’s good on a level which has more of a mechanical , objective side . It;s technically impressive,has top notch writing and tons of content and work put into it but it lacks that ‘gamy’ aspect. It’s more of a super car made for results than a car which has a ‘soul’ .

So you know. Tastes i guess?

I think that modern art is shit in general,but it sells for millions and artists are viewed as some sort of masterminds. Same goes with games i guess.

I’ll be honest i have no clue what is the purpose of this thread. I just saw names of games i know and have played. :smiley:

P.S ANother example. I’m playing through Spiderman 2018 ( PS4 exclusive ) and it’s supposed to be this amazing game and blah blah and it’sjust an OKAY game. Not a waste of money or time but nothing of what i was expecting .


#8

I watched the whole video, and I agree with a lot of it, but that takes absolutely nothing away from the “experience” i had personally playing through the story and discovering and “living” it, so there’s that

so while i might agree with his analysis, I’d still argue that “living” a game and discovering and experiencing it is not the same as analyzing it, and the same goes for movies and books etc. While u might fully enjoy it while experiencing it, once u start analyzing things in depth (which is relative ofc), u can probably also destroy the whole experience for everyone, lol

so yeah, i fully accept his points, but i also fully stand by my own regardless, and i still feel like it’s yr loss in the end

@DontBeSilly u shouldn’t delete yr post; it’s full of valid points as well


#9

Thing is though, I haven’t lost anything. The time and money potentially spent on Infinite was spent on other things that I enjoyed. I was never deprived of any experiences, just didn’t have the one you had.

@DontBeSilly with this I agree with @M00, I also don’t really know what the point of the thread was but you wrote as decent a post as the rest of us for it.


#10

@M00 @Fraggles Ok i’ll leave it . I just felt like it was stream of random text after reading what i’ve wrote … heh.


#11

MAMA MIA SO MUCH TEXT SO LITTLE TIME


#12

cool words m8s


#13

I will just leave this here.


http://howtonotsuckatgamedesign.com/2013/09/rapture-dubai/