Fun Vs Realism

 

heavy-rain-screens_08-18-09

Before you go off at me saying things like “How can you ask should games be less fun?  Of course they should be fun!” Here me out.

I read an article over at IGN about how the creative team behind Assassins Creed 4 and the DLC Freedom Cry were trying to give players a different experience.

They mentioned things like fun not being the most important part of the experience and although I haven’t played the Freedom Cry DLC I think I’ve read enough comments that suggest they could actually be right.  After reading all these comments I started thinking about a few games that I have played which weren’t necessarily fun by the traditional gaming bar but these were still games that managed to captivate me from beginning to end no matter how dire the situation became.

(image courtesy of www.gameblog.fr)

Heavy Rain & Beyond:  Two Souls

Now, I don’t know who wouldn’t have played Heavy Rain or Beyond: Two Souls and if you haven’t I suggest you do. Heavy Rain is on the top one hundred games to get for PS3 and it really is a fantastic experience.  Although, with these types of projects that come out of Quantic Dream, I find it difficult to actually call them games.  They seem more like an interactive film with basic game mechanics.  While both “games” are debatable about how crappy the control scheme is I can’t deny the fact that both of these titles have one hell of a gripping story line.

In Heavy Rain you explore the emotional side of being a parent and it poses you with the ultimate question or at least in my opinion;

How far would you go to save your child?”

Just think about that for a second.  It’s a serious game based in a very real world where your decisions have consequences and every choice you make alters the path you’re on.

(image courtesy of www.edge-online.com)In Beyond:  Two Souls the choices were pretty much non-existent and nothing really seemed to matter besides getting to the next scene but what it did deliver on was a truly emotional connection between Jodie and Aiden and at the end everything came together in a bittersweet- type-of way.  Imagine the person who is closest to you in every conceivable way and one day they’re just gone.  If you’ve spent every god damn day with this person and then they’re just gone, how would you feel?  Yes, that’s death, I’m very well aware but for me personally, I felt more of a connection to the relationships mainly because I was engaged in the complete experience.

Both of these examples, I would deem as a serious narrative experience no matter how outlandish they might seem to some.

I had “fun” with these games but not in the traditional sense.

(image courtesy of fuckyeahthelastofus.com)The Last of Us

Majority of gamers including myself loved The Last of Us for its in-depth story-telling, the narrative depth and the way we felt while trying to survive.  The whole game was just surviving and amongst all that surviving, we were able to experience fundamental relationships and explore how people just like you and me, could be warped, broken or just fucked up, falling into an even deeper pit of despair, all for survival.

The relationship between Joel and Ellie and how the experiences changed them throughout the game was a big highlight for me and the epic decision that Joel made at the end which caused so much debate amongst us.

I had “fun” with this game too but not in the traditional sense.

I think that the games that I’ve mentioned here portray a different sense of fun.  I’m referring to more realism in terms of human interactions, emotions and story-telling.  I would play these games over and over simply for the stories and human connections that they present.  The realism in the worlds that I play in is to me a different sense of fun.

If we were to move away from the traditional fun in games such as blowing up barrels, running and gunning and general carnage that comes with it, then I think we could actually see a more mature gaming industry, one filled with emotional journeys and meaningful experiences.  Games that twenty years from now you’ll still say, “Do you remember how this game made you feel?

I’m not at all saying that we shouldn’t have the normal fun that gaming gives us but it would be nice if we had more of this type of interactive story telling where we start to think and feel what’s going on.

What do you guys think?  Which would you prefer?

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