Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Upsetting The Status Quo WITH The Status Quo

This is technically going to be the follow up to a post that doesn't even exist yet (and I won't say where it will appear since I'm a jerk like that).

Photobucket

Anyway, over a casual probing of Adelle Star's Facebook status (they can be used for good you know), I was brought back to a topic I just recently visited already. That topic is normalcy in games. I mean normal in the sense of grasping the complacent misery we all have to wade through on a daily basis; be it a job, relationship, or just general unhappiness. Yes, this would be the status quo I'm referring to, as we're all (most of us anyway) connected by this one long train of things we try our best to not complain about. Why simulate that though? Games often are meant to be played as a cathartic release from reality, that's one of their Fort├ęs. Well, one of the answers lies in a quote I love to live by right now.

"Life's greatest comfort is being able to look over your shoulder at people worse off, waiting in line behind you."
-Chuck Palahniuk (Rant: An Oral Biography of Buster Casey)

Now some games let us run around a skewed barrier of normalcy (see The Sims). However, even those games are based on the ideal that gamers don't want what I'm specifically referring to in the first place. Think of the loopholes here though; we do find enjoyment out of this same misery in other mediums. Sure, movies, films, I've even heard some songs capture this same essence of boredom. Games do not. I don't think this is as simple as they can't be made that way but its more because we don't want them that way...right now (i.e. they won't sell), AND there's not enough minds willing to embark on that kind of creative odyssey. This is where a muscle such as writing could really kick in for the game industry though. The amount of vacancy for that kind of writing would call for some extreme character development and subtlety innovations. Not only that, but it would dictate an absolute marriage between a game's writing and its play (let's be honest, all we've really gotten are middle-school/high-school relationships at best so far).

"Normal's not normal, if you're not normal."
-Dr. Gregory House, Season 3, Episode 10 ~ "Merry Little Christmas"

Welp, we're not normal, not most gamers anyway. For any number of reasons, we'd like to believe so, but the truth of the matter is we're a growing population of abominable social malgrowth. Most gamers are actually nerds or geeks pretty generally and those terms are fundamentally contingent on some outcasting from those around us, whether it was schooling, family, or just general misplacement in society. A game predicated on that ideal is dangerous, you know why? It's because it would get so much done without doing a damn thing at all.

Some sample scenarios rolling off my head:

1 ~ Following an "average" college student for a week.

2 ~ Following an "average" person holding down multiple jobs.

3 ~ Following a passenger on any number of the modes of transportation availible in today's world. A simple two hour game that covers Jack's flight prior to crashing near Rapture comes to mind (BioShock).


Now, you could disrupt these at any time with surprise happenings (e.g. 1//Student has unfortunate chain of events, 2//person gets fired or deals with a crime of some sort at their job, 3//Terrorism & Human Error). It's not a necessity though, just a means to artistically break up the idea that I'm tracing around here. This type of game certainly shouldn't come out tomorrow or anything, but you know---I'd like to see one someday. I'm also going to point out that I'm being really nice by ending this post here as I wanted to go on and on just to tie into the theme of the post itself. However, that idea was crushed once I realized how much of an "assedrous" invasion privacy to take the aforementioned Facebook friend's life-snippet and amorally analyze it for the sake of a blog I'm not even willing to write as comprehensively as I normally do (plus I'm lazier than usual today). Even I'm not that bad...yet.

I've never been as miserable playing a game as I've been in school, and ironically that kind of makes me sad too. =(
- SnakeLinkSonic

~sLs~