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There was a limited discussion of it in the Oh So Happy thread, but that's not really the place.

Anyway, if you and I have a different definition of 'cinematic,' that's no matter. I'm completely open. For a school-related project, I would like to look at a set of video games that really made people think something like, Wow, this is more than playing a game. Games start to make you think they have lessons to be derived. Or certainly they make you feel something important and real. You feel like they have a 'message,' etc. etc

So what specific games do you think would be indicative of this? What are the canonical RPG/adventure games? (I mean RPG here very loosely--so it can include games like Half Life or System Shock as well as more traditionally formulaic 'roleplaying' games.)

I have to stick with games from 2000 or earlier (well, not too much earlier--c. 1995). For now, I further want to restrict myself to single player games. This is the list of titles that I'm thinking of looking at

Final Fantasy 7, 8, 9
Resident Evil 1, 2, 3
Onimusha (eh maybe... but I forget when this came out)
Metal Gear Solid
Half Life
Armored Core
Tomb Raider 1, 2, 3

I think that cinematic feel can come somewhat easily from games whose plots are written on a large scale, like between many dimensions, across time, and definitely games where your own character ages.

For me, I love the Chrono titles. Chrono Trigger(released March 11, 1995! My Birthday!) and Chrono Cross (NOT meant to be a sequel to Chrono Trigger, just occurring in the same universe, and running into similar characters) will always be games that pulled me in and made feel like an epic tale unfolded.

Music aids this "cinematic" feeling in so many ways, that it's no wonder that the OSTs to RPGs sell so well.
Games like ICO prove that you don't necessarily need full-blown 10-minute cutscenes to tell a's cinematic because you feel a sense of kinship for the young hero and the mysterious princess. ICO proved that, sometimes, it's not what story you're trying to tell, but how you tell it that matters. Not that there's anything wrong with long cutscenes, but this was something different. One thing I enjoyed was that it was about love-not the stereotypical Hollywood-style hero saving his future sex mate, but the love between two friends who genuinely care about each other; and about a young person who, by good nature alone, stops to help someone he just met without thinking twice, even when he has a chance to make it out of a bad situation by moving on. It made me feel like I was part of a good friendship (as lame as I know that sounds), and it took me out my seat and into it's world. Another great element is that neither of the main charcters can understand each other's languages, they're just communicating via emotions. Of course, it's kind of hard to explain to anyone who hasn't played it, but if you start from the beginning and play your way through, you can understand.
Of all the games i've ever played, a worthy few would have honourable mention (especially the ones you pointed out davus).

But if i could only mention one game, it won't be any Final Fantasy, or Secret of Mana, or Zelda.

There was this one game i bought on the good old Dreamcast. The protagonist was this young kid coming into adulthood (naturally), but during this important stage in his life, he also bears witness to the cold murder of his father. Wrought with vengeance, he seeks the stranger who claimed his father's life... but where does he begin? And so through the eyes of the kid are we introduced to the vivid breathing spectacle of a quaint little town, where the search begins for his father's killer.

The rain patters, the snow falls, and day and night pass as naturally as in real life. And as close an imitation of real life as a game can get. There's one of those cool wooden water features that make a knocking sound whenever it fills up (it is quite soothing to hear), there's the pocket money you get from the housekeeper (barely enough to sustain your day-to-day activities, thus ending up with you having to get a job shifting crates at the local harbour), and there's that sakura tree in the yard, where your father taught you martial arts, the training of which can be done in the local park. And it is quite possible to interact with almost everything you come across.

There's the drunk by the harbour who's actually an old master of the arts, there's the punk kid who picked a fight with you, but becomes one of your closest friends, and the guy at the hot dog stand who knows alot more than just hot dogs. You can play darts in the pub, have a tickle on old classics in the arcade, or do some mingling with the townsfolk, just to uncover anything about your father's killer.

After your character's humble farewell, you are taken across the waters to new worlds, to Hong Kong, and then to the vast mountains of China. Whether you're sitting in a tea house in Kowloon, praying at the temples dotted around the city, or taking shelter in a cave with a girl (whom you happened upon a chance encounter, and then find out you were both fated to meet), there's always something interesting happening.

Like Final Fantasy, the music is truly special. It expresses wonder, awe, and endless imagination. And something quite magical too. I could almost go to say that Yuzo Koshiro is on a par with Nobuo Uematsu. His use of chinese violins create such a haunting and epic soundtrack, doing an incredible job of mirroring the game emotions, and that of the player.

And all the while you were marvelling at the level of realism, the story veers off fantastically, giving you the biggest 'wtf?!' in a game. Then it dawns on you, all that has happened only served to preceed something on a far greater scale. The biggest frickin' cliffhanger thus followed. And now the remaining chapters of this story are yet to be told, the creator having left the company, the future uncertain.

Well that kid's name was Ryo Hazuki, and the game Shenmue. My favourite game ever.

Quite possibly the only game that's inspired me devote a half-essay about it.

edit - omg i didn't notice that i'd written so much ahahah. :shock:
Thanks guys :dai:

Music aids this \"cinematic\" feeling in so many ways, that it's no wonder that the OSTs to RPGs sell so well.

Good point. Music in RPGs also functions in different ways in games as opposed to films... quite interesting.

@Cloud: What is ICO? Lol, sorry. I'm drawing a blank.

@Clem: ...Shenmue sounds like a great example esp. being set in a not explicitly sci fi or fantasy world. It's also good that it's not by Square or for PS (I need diversity), and it can be explored as the brainchild largely of one guy, perhaps. Arg, I shoulda bought a dreamcast when they were going for like 20 dollars. Maybe there's still hope :rolling:

Another general question...

You think Shenmue's plot could almost be a metaphor for playing a video game? What about ICO or CT/CC? Like... the medium is the message? I definitely tend to think that FF7 and more profoundly 8 (the most 'realistic' FFs) are very much 'about' gaming and gamers.

ICO was a great adventure game for the PlayStation 2 that was released earlier in the system's lifecylce (I believe 2001). It was a great, unique game that focused on a young man named ICO who was taken to a tomb-styled area to be locked away because he was born with horns. He gets lucky and manages to escape his stone cell after it collapses. He has a dream about a young woman locked away in a cage, being swallowed by darkness-after adventuring around, he finds that girl. After freeing her from her cage, he learns that not only can she not speak his language, she is being hunted by the spirits of ICO's ancestors. With only a stick in hand, ICO decides to help her (Yorda) escape the prison (which turns out to be part of a castle) while beating down the spirits with a stick. It turns out she's a princess, and the queen is commanding ICO's ancestors to get her back.

Without spoiling anything, I'll tell you that ICO isn't an action game in the least-it's almost a straight-up adventure game. The entire castle is a giant puzzle, and you have to guide Yorda through by solving the game's absolutely genious puzzles, helping her climb ledges and get around the castle, and fighting off the spirits with his stick. It's really simple, but as you play, the game just takes on it's own life-the game is incredibly cinematic in that it has subtle touches that make it believable but still surreal, and it's minimalistic soundtrack. The music in the game is very, very rare, but what's there is great. The fact that you're focusing on just two main characters allows you to get to know them fully. They behave uniquely, right down to their walk and the way they stand around-something that will pull you in, like it or not. The graphics and art direction are brilliantly unique. It's just...incredible.

Ah, fanboy territory! If you want it, you can find it used and cheap at a game store (even newer copies are cheap, but rare). It's one of the best games that was overlooked. Not many people have played it, but it is one of my faves.

I don't know about it being a metaphor for's more like it's meant to transcend what we expect from games-it's not about the action, the licenced soundtrack, the Hollywood's about a story of the friends, and it sticks to that, to bringing you into the experience. By the way, FFVII is my fave game ever. happy.gif
I don't know about it being a metaphor for's more like it's meant to transcend what we expect from games-it's not about the action, the licenced soundtrack, the Hollywood's about a story

Heh, I definitely relate to that sentiment. but...

Another way of asking what I'm sort of wondering might be, If the story of FF7 or Shenmue is so great, why even bother making it a game? If the story is the message, who cares if the gameplay is good, bad, or existent at all?
uchiha yinchi
i would say rythem games like parappa and bust a groove. they werent exactly beautiful, but they taught rythem which was something new and cool for video games. but if you wanna stick with the rpg genre, i would probably say that everquest was a game with a message. it was one of the first games that told you you can be a game addict, and make friends which was pretty cool
And that's kind of the question people often ask about games as a whole. It's one of my dreams to make one, and the question people ask me the most is...why tell a story as a game when you can tell it as a movie, short series, etc?

And there is the answer about the medium itself. It's the fact of it's interactivity. Because games require you to participate, that also means that you instantly become part of the story. Bad story or not, you have control of the character, and are therefore that much more attached to the experience. Of course, this doesn't mean a bad game is better than a bad movie, but you get my idea. More directly to your question: it does matter that it's a game. In two ways:

The first example is that when you're controlling Tifa through Cloud's subconcious (by the way, if I'm ruining this for anyone, it's way too late to call this a spoiler, so...sorry). You become Tifa-you're not watching her, you're now just controlling her, you are her. You're as confused as she is in the beginning, you're discovering things as she does, you're as helpless before the truth as Tifa is, and her emotions are very much the ones you feel as you play (which should stay the case if the game you're experiencing is any good). So as the characters see things, so are you. While this isn't the same throughout the entire industry, it generally (and hopefully) is the case. Since you don't know what will happen unless you progress forward. You're in control, even when the story is out of control (like Cloud's past). You are Cloud, Tifa, Ico, Dante, Aya, or Ratchet-not just wtching them.

The second thing is that the timing and length of the games leave the creators more freedom to tell the story the way they want to. There is no 2-3 hour limit to deal with, so the can tell the story the way they want to-the director can plan out elements in a way the would have to be forced together in a film of TV show, or they would have to sacrifice many, many story elements they would have a chance to show in a game. On top of that, the relationship with the characters would be taken down a level from what I said above, about being an ally, or even becoming that character.
You're in control, even when the story is out of control

Very well said: That might be the essential dichotomy of ultra-complex games. I wonder how to contend with that. Is your goal in playing just to force the plot along? (I.e. the plot is your reward for playing well.) Or does the game sometimes force you to linger, hesitate, explore? That scene with Tifa (in the lifestream, right?) would seem like a good example of that, since there's really nothing for you to do but move the plot on--and yet there is something for you to do. I'm not sure that 'you are Tifa' is really accurate though. I think there's something that almost insists, especially since she's not the usual lead character, on your being relegated to (if you like) looking over her shoulder. Then again, that might embroil you even further--forcing you to be somehow in there for yourself, bearing witness.

I guess a question from there would be why not make all plot points cutscenes? Since the plot is ultimately determined, what are you gaining from commingling weird plot sequences and gameplay?
That Tifa thing you said makes sense...when she's in Cloud's subconciousness, I think I contradicted myself by saying the you, in fact, become her. I think what I meant was that you are there. Looking at her discover the truth.

About advancing the plot being the sole reason for playing...not if the story and gameplay are any good, and have you engrossed. In a game like FFVII or Metal Gear, the story is so engrossing that you anticipate the next cutscene-but the thing is that the gameplay itself is a treat, so you're not playing for the next cutscene, you're playing out of sheer enjoyment/engrossment. And by being a part of weird, trippy sequences like MGS3's walk down the river, or Tifa's discovery, is what I mentioned above-because you're participating in the event, even if it is just to advance the story, it allows you to not only feel more attached, but to take in and interpret events at your own pace, something that, while possible in cutscenes, is often more engrossing, and memorable.

Also, take in mind the fact that you can look around and sit there, thinking about what the hell is going on in your surroundings. Too many cutscenes, like MGS2, can not only be hard to absorb because you often are presented with them via cutscenes, but because they go on a the director dictates, unlike if you wanted to stop in the middle of Nibelheim to think and absorb what's going on before you progress.

Hey, are you gonna have to debate this with someone...because it sounds like we could make a pretty formidable team. :wave:
Debate, maybe. I don't have a position yet. What I ideally want to do is a 'pragmatic' philosophical investigation of a few games, or really just sequences, that IMO effect something in the player that perhaps 'games' aren't supposed to.

Anyway for now I am just collecting exemplary games and scenes.
Here is an interesting blog entry that suggests one possibility of what I might be looking for, as well as summarizing the philosophical/pragmatic line of reasoning I would like to try. The last one or two titled sections basically tell it all, so you can skip the rest. The author is a different David, incidentally :wink:
Soul Reaver
The be-all and end-all of cinematic videogames is Indigo Prophecies/Fahrenhiet. Anyone that's played the game would know what I'm talking about.
I don't know about the be-all end-all, but I know what you mean. Everyone should give that game a go.
HeartlessCloud did it go...?
It is still going... or idling. After the first few weeks of inspiration my enthusiasm has become diffuse again. I still have a lot of time (more than a year) so right now I'm just mulling, compiling/considering a reading list, working on ancillary concepts etc. I kind of got caught up in film theory stuff (for school now) so games have been in my thoughts only as you find their forerunners sometimes in film and literature. If there's any kind of organization, it's that I at least need a more rigorous understanding of cinema before I can apply its concepts to games; whether I wanna treat video games as a special case of cinema, which is sort of an extreme corollary of that, I don't know, but I'm open to that possibility.
Maybe it's not really a good game, but when playstation 2 first came out, they released The Bouncer. Me and my friends always joke about and say that throughout the whole game you only need to press a button to let the cinematic continue. :rolling:

My favorites would have to be Final Fantasy series and Metal Gear Solid, even though the cinematic graphics and game graphics don't really differ, but they lok damn good.
If you're doing on a report, you have to play Shadow of the Colossus. There aren't many long cutscenes, and the story is minimalistic, but it's absolutely cinematic. It's a game that makes you feel emotional toward the characters while you're playing, not just during cutscenes and overblown cinematics. As you play, you get attached, and you honestly care about your main character, his love, and even his horse.

It's cinematic, and the only way to really experience it is if you play it for yourself. If you don't, you're really going to miss a game that can have a huge impact on the industry-and your report, especially.
!@#$ I just deleted a really long reply to this. Anyway I'd like to hear more of your thoughts, especially as to just how this will impact the industry...

This review I read was very interesting... But I'm skeptical. It sounds very manipulative, but that doesn't necessarily equal groundbreaking--just exploiting truths that are usually softpedalled: e.g. that beating a boss/game is dissatisfying--yet you need look no further than the popularity of fanfic (subcult anyway) or multiplayer, quasi-open games to see that.

Likewise that a game can be so explicit about how the gamer is party to its events is arguably just a symptom of games being a huge mainstream phenomenon now (open to what is essentially a critical response game like this one)--whereas the dichotomy of playing and passively experiencing was already present, as in your example of Tifa in Cloud's mind: only then games were still breaking through, and the blockbusters and the masterpieces were the same (maybe FF7 is even too late for that period), and now games are THE most profitable entertainment medium; the conventions have stabilized.


Just wanted to add that the ambiguous/uncomfortable relationship with a comatose girl is an interesting trope in itself, undoubtedly worthy of its own report: sources including SotC, FF8, Talk to Her (film), the opening of End of Evangelion, Terry Schiavo, the song Background (3EB), Wolf's Rain, Goodbye Tsugumi (book... sort of, not comatose but frail sometimes bedridden)... 'In the late 90s and 2000s a cultural fascination with frail or incapacitated women asserts itself across all media. Blah blah blah'

And the wiki article on SotC is pretty cool
If you're doing on a report, you have to play Shadow of the Colossus. There aren't many long cutscenes, and the story is minimalistic, but it's absolutely cinematic. It's a game that makes you feel emotional toward the characters while you're playing, not just during cutscenes and overblown cinematics. As you play, you get attached, and you honestly care about your main character, his love, and even his horse.

It's cinematic, and the only way to really experience it is if you play it for yourself. If you don't, you're really going to miss a game that can have a huge impact on the industry-and your report, especially.

I really like this game. I wish it had more replay value though, like being able to have alternative endings.
Yeah, it's one of my new faves, but I wanted more secret weapons, maybe even a hidden colossus ot two. happy.gif

davus, I think you're off-base with your view on Shadow of the Colossus. It's not too manipulative/explicit in the way you have to play it-it's about the emotions you go through [not what theywant you to go through] as you play, and how you experiment and experience the colossi. It's open because you have an entire colossus to deal with, and you can rush in and hope to stumble upon it's weakness, or hang back and learn it's nuances; you can choose to hang on for as long as you can hoping to get that last stab in as the colossus struggles wildly to get you off, or you can let go and hope that you can somehow struggle to somewhere safe on it and collect yourself for a bit. It's about the choice, and the exhilarating "eureka" as you find out not only how to take it down, but when you actually pull it off.
Dam I just heard about this game the other I really want to play it sad.gif

Im stuck with that new Spiderman game whatever its called. Plays just like the old one <_< except with Venom
More importantly, are you enjoying it? ohmy.gif

Genji's a great game, in the similar vein as ... that game lol. Probably better though eheh.
And it has the most amazing period setting soundtrack. Almost as brilliant as Onimusha's.
davus, I think you're off-base with your view on Shadow of the Colossus. It's not too manipulative/explicit in the way you have to play it-it's about the emotions you go through [not what theywant you to go through] as you play, and how you experiment and experience the colossi.

Manipulative/explicit? Those are very different things. The magic of experiencing any artwork is... the experience, what you go through. At the same time, artists know this, and so it's hard to say that they don't want you to go through something; and then it's hard to say that they don't want you to go through something in particular.

The thing about having your emotions manipulated is that emotion is always real. This is what tear-jerker movies or games, or on a more instinctual level, scary movies or games are all about. People like being manipulated. More specifically all the reviews I read of this talk about what an emotional experience it is, even if they didn't say it's specifically sad... But do games just have to be about emotion? Open emotion is already the subtraction of non-emotional possibilities.

It's open because you have an entire colossus to deal with, and you can rush in and hope to stumble upon it's weakness, or hang back and learn it's nuances; you can choose to hang on for as long as you can hoping to get that last stab in as the colossus struggles wildly to get you off, or you can let go and hope that you can somehow struggle to somewhere safe on it and collect yourself for a bit. It's about the choice, and the exhilarating \"eureka\" as you find out not only how to take it down, but when you actually pull it off.

I'm not disputing that this is a vast and very powerful game, but it still has a definite end. The part I bolded: that's just it. Once that object is achieved, the game is effaced--over. What remains is the 'event' of narrative/motion picture + the condition of having played the game. To actually kill the colossus is a game. The colossus dying is a pure event: how it collapses, the music that plays...

Yet many people when they solve the puzzle soon felt a melancholy. The NY Times reviewer said flat-out that he wanted more plot. Given NYT isn't exactly by gamers for gamers it sort of points to a question about gamers' peculiar personalities. It raises the question of motivation. Why keep playing this game if not for plot? There is beauty in its puzzle/pure-game aspect. But that is not necessarily more important than the narrative aspect of rather, even absurdly, inexplicable killing. Gamers keep gaming, but the NYT reviewer gave up because the plot didn't motivate him enough; likewise someone like me or my mom (both of whom have serious game-addiction-prone personalities) would quit because of the plot.

My dilemma then about this game is it deeply instructive or is it very cleverly playing to established types (hardcore versus casual gamers)? Is it without precedent, or is it just an especially acute, clarified, poignant reflection of vague precedent?
That's an interesting point, and one that could easily give way into an argument. By "manipulative/explicit," I wasn't implying those were the same, just that the way you play the game was not either of those.

As for your questions, after reading about what the NY Times reviewer said, it's hard not to think about the differences between gamers' "peculiar" personalities and others' "normal" personalities.

But to be honest, I don't have the answers to all of your questions-they're just a little beyond my level. >_< I hate to crap out like this, but I think that they're more subject to personal opinion, and something I can't put into words with an answer. I guess you just have to play it and check for yourself-I think that's the way people learn answers the best.
It's cool. I went overboard... My thoughts on my own questions, just for fun:

'Why play the game?' is unanswerable; motivations are too complex. What I think is special about SotC is not so much what it basically does as a game, but how it draws your attention to what it's doing as a game: how conscious you are of your involvement.

The final question is just whether this game is really innovative, or just clever and tight. There's my bias toward epic, super-ambitious games (FF) coming out. Even when the realization is sloppy, the amount of energy that goes into these games has all sorts of interesting consequences, even if as a whole the game is somewhat sloppy. This is an unfair question: all games require lots of energy and have unintended consequences. Still, there are trendsetters and loners... Some mediocre games ultimately get imitated a lot (say Virtua Fighter) and later the formula/genre they pioneer approaches perfection (SC1 or whatever the best 3d fighter is). Some masterpiece games maybe never get imitated (Nights or Shenmue perhaps) or it's harder to see their influence.
Ah...your wording in the last paragraph there cleared it up. I agree with you, but then there are how the games are recieved. For example, if you say Virtua Fighter was mediocre, and Jack Thompson says the game is the second coming of Christ (/snicker), and the industry is with him, it will, most likely, influence the industry-even if it's not the best thing ever (or even plain mediocre). I guess what I'm trying to say is that it's whatever the general public feels drawn to and accepts as great that will be an "industry influencer," not necessarily something that's truly innovative and exceptional. Not sure how this ties into your questions, directly, but it's what came to mind as I thought about it... :rolling:

I think what critics (at least many of them, it seems) love about Shadow of the Colossus so much is that, even despite it's flaws and some technical issues, is not only that it's innovative, but also that what it doesn't change, it amplifies and improves. It's pretty innovative having a huge, moving colossi to slay, figuring out what makes them do what, and just interacting with them (and on them); but it also improves what gamers have come to generally accept (no, that's not the right word-what gamers have generally come to "expect" would be smarter to say) from adventure games and storytelling in games-we don't need a massive, overblown story and tons of cutscenes, we don't need the violence cranked up to 11, and we don't even need to know too much why we're fighting for-just that we're fighting for this young man's love and that we have to be willing to devote ourselves completely to helping her from whatever has happened. So it's both innovative and it improves on what we've come to expect. Yeah...that's a hell of a lot of typing.
A little late on the contribution but I think I mentioned it before on the off thread that spawned this one. Like Virile I second CT, I didnt feel like I was playing the game more than immersing in the story, and as he said the OST accounted for a fair amount of that. But you said 2000+ so Ill have to say Prince of Persia Sands of Time, Ive yet to play the sequels but this movie fit the bill for cinematic VG.

Personally I think it worked out better than MGS on the PS, that was a great game and I think the story was better but I still feel PoP put you into the game better. The game is basically just a retelling of the events that transpired by the main character/you all up to the ending where you find out that the prince (you) is actually telling the story to a character you met midgame of what will happen and how he knows who she is. He tells her the story to gain her trust so to save her from the villain who traveled back in time with him for his evil gains, whatever they may be. So really it plays out very similarly to movies that have followed the same plot twist but instead youre participating in the story, jumping into the action and solving the puzzles. I think it felt cinematic because of the elements they put in the game, the fact it was narrated, the landscape view which would show you a "birdseye view" of the landscape you were in much like they would show in movies, the way they would introduce every "scene" of the game, the way the characters interacted with each other among other things. Im not sure I can pin down exactly what it was but this game was pretty damn good.

On the point of Times comment of SotC (Mind you I havent played this game yet, I just started it up the other day to take a look), I think that SotC is more about the essence of the moment rather than the collective of it. I mean sure they couldve shown the before, during, after, and the why of the comatose girl with intricate plot twists like many other games, but they chose to show just a single facet of it with the emotion/experience that went with it. I think movies have more liberty to divulge in other aspects related to it aside from pure entertainment, but games are a little behind imo. Movies can inject social commentary, spiritual inferences, and whatnot but games have been more preoccupied with the entertainment part of it because its more time intensive and reliant on audience input than a movie. So maybe movies are already at point C whereas games are having trouble chasing point B, and C is a stretch for all but a few gems such as the ones mentioned in this thread. Also on the point HC brought up about the control of the story, I believe the aspect of control puts people into a game more than one could with a film. I mean a game can, from a technical perspective, do just about everything a film can and then some but a game can be an interactive film if executed correctly. Kinda reminds me of those books that had A B C D choice and you could make your own decisions so you didnt feel like you were reading through someones perspective (as much). But the thing thats kind of dissappointing is that games will always live in the shadow of movies and never secure a place for themselves; its either trying to be something else (movies/books) or used as a tool (like board games and such).

Im not sure if thats at all relevant to what you were looking for but just my 2cents I wanted to put in after reading this thread. I think Im gonna go check out ICO and Indigo Prophecies now :bigthumb:
Asu, I tend to agree with you about video games' predicament as it were. Virtually each time I think about the 'most beautiful' moments in a game, those moments turn out to be borrowed from other media (esp. cinema now, but in older games also comics, plays, possiby even the kind of wordplay and manipulation of multiple voices that you find in novels).

Yet, at the very least, you could say that video games combine these media in very original and effective ways. And perhaps the combination isn't just serendipity, either. A really crude example could be the amount of reading one has to do text RPGs; granted you don't have to do most of it, and the necessary stuff is even skim-able, but at the same time it'd be difficult not to get a sense of the events as transpiring through words when you have been reading a game for hours and hours, even half-heartedly. It's a game, so you want to keep playing (for reasons apart from those that would keep you reading a book--from even skimming). That's also one thing that has always impressed me specifically about RPGs: they are hugely time-consuming--yet entertaining; maybe difficult, but not discouraging or boring.

I think 'entertainment' is a really good angle to explore since it effectively levels many different media. We have a common set of questions: what desires satisfied/satisfactions simulated; what ideas reinforced; what patterns of experience reproduced (as in time/music)... etc. Especially with the last category, it becomes possible to look at the pure structure of the games, which is far more objective than any narratival or political/social interpretation.

Also, it points right toward the importance of one supplemental quality which several people have already indicated--music.
Er I know this is a double post but I didn't want to make the above any more dishearteningly long. I was just responding to Asudef's awesome points! But this is just stuff I made up after reading Dyer's 'Entertainment and Utopia' which is a good little essay on the social functions of entertainment as well as a good beginning discussion of mixed media (his example is movie musicals).

From my journal... I'm trying to elaborate a little on the mediological side of games, or at least on how games themselves relate to
(other) media, which might expose games' own unique structure.

I'm beginning to understand the significance of the mass media conspiracy in FF8. It's important to recognize the different political significations ofradio waves and cable. The storyline really seems to have three different worlds of thinking in contention: the contemporary of networks and collectivities (Garden and Fisherman's Horizon--intentional communities); the modern of nations (the imperial Galbadia and its subalterns, the isolationist Esthar); and the romantic which is arguably a conservative retreat, certainly one solution to the manifest emptiness of a network per se, and probably a symptom of FF8's form.

That is a consistent feature of practically every FF game--the empty time before the boss fights, the characters' reflecting on their mutual attachment. The party is absolutely crucial to how FF games affected people, I think. What they offered was not simple narcissism but the possibility of the player's belonging to their fantasy brigade--so that 'camping out' with them all before the final assault was the affirming moment of the game insofar as it answers a human/social need.

'Was' I say because it's my feeling that this changed with FFX; that X insistently denies a sense of authentically belonging and also focuses almost completely on Yuna. Actually, Tidus, coming from another world, having his own set of reactions, ultimately not belonging to Yuna's same materiality, not being able to touch her, is a good model of the player himself (herself?).  The medium is the message, or so says the medium.
Its not too long, just I think you covered all the good and valid points. Theres nothing else for me to really add.

Except that in SotC there really isnt any reading, just suggestive prose. But seeing the ending for it really just cements the idea that it was more of a "silent" film than a game. It was still great nonetheless tho.
Whenever I read about the end of the silent film era and the necessary tragedy it entailed if I myself get nostalgic it's really for the end of silent video games, or at least text based FF games, or the age of single player games for that matter. E.g. I keep reading snippets about City Lights (which I can't seem to find for rental!) and Chaplin's resistance to talkies and I think of FF7, the sound effects, the visions of industry and city, even the physical comedy. And the end shots are the same, aren't they? The flower girl looking up... It's supposedly one of the great endings among all movies but like I said I'm reticent about seeing it.

Even though there's the cheesy choir in FF7 and the higher fidelity but still linguistically abstruse one at the beginning of 8 the moment of moments is definitely the beginning of Eyes on Me playing in outer space in the cockpit. It's almost traumatic after all the silence of the outer space scenes, suddenly to find oneself being talked to in one's native tongue.
Yeah, I know what you mean. Maybe that's why hearing the vocals during the Sephiroth fight in FFVII helps make it so much more powerful. And it's not often that someone mentions FFVII and the game's physical comedy...I think that's something that's an important point, too.

And no voices leads to your interpretation of the characters even more. That's why people get so upset about voice actor choices.
wow I joined this convo late.. so many good points covered. I've skim read most of what's said, but if I'm repeating anything, apologies. Everyone here speaks of FF and puts it as an example of a 'cinematic experience', but what IS a cinematic experience? Is it the immersion into a world that's believable? Is it being told a story? The emotions we feel as we grow attached to the characters?

When I first read the title I thought more so of the cinematics and how they threw you into the world, but as I read the views on SoTC and the short comings of FFX I realised this is much bigger than just pretty pictures.

Funny then that no one has mentioned the more open ended RPGs out there. Even funnier still that we're on any bbs and we have no WoW/Everquest addicts jumping all over the 'immersion' and 'becoming' their characters in these games. I don't play MMORPG so I can't exactly comment on these, but there's a reason as to why these people are addicted and run the stereotype of nerds who dress up as their characters online outside in the real world.

Anyways, what I wanted to say was I recently started playing Fable: The Lost Chapters. FTLC as most people know won a lotta awards and having played it.. well.. it's nothing special. There are plenty of games with "make your own endings" and I personally find that everyone speaking with and English accent a little annoying. Still, I find myself attached to the character.. because he is me. His battle scars that scare the women away, they are MY scars and that's ME people are running from. I want to do everything I can to instill fear on my enemies and receive praise amongst those I save.

One side note, I was going to use Knights of the Old Republic and GTA as examples too of 'living' life in a game. Reason I didn't was that people have problems with KOTR being a branch of Star Wars and other view GTA as just a brainless kill-fest. Honestly though, I've clocked many hours working up money and buying a house.. all so I can have a garage to put my collection of cars. Why do I care about collecting cars in a game? Is that what becoming my character is all about?
I was playing FFVII today for fun...I randomly just started a new game and played until the first time you leave Midgar. Lots of parallels to today's world, it's freaky.

The president who some hate and some support, but no doubt there's something funny going on; the cloning deal, and the government's secret experiments in the game; draining the Planet of raw materials for money (a parallel to today's oil crisis?).

I just found it interesting...especially since the game came out in 1997.
The parallels apply to any time period.. the government is always trying to hoodwink people (according to conspiracy theorists) and using up world resources has been going on for centuries.. whether it be oil shortage, logging or over hunting animals.
That's true...I guess the thing that got me the most was the "terrorist" bombing at the Mako reactors, and the Plate wiping out the Sector 6 Slums, which was a government deal that was thrown on the "terrorists." Reminded me of the "9/11 conspiracy" videos online these days.
haha Square predicted 9/11? hahahah that's whack
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