The last of us: those who see "Games as..."

Griffith

With the streak of a tear, Like morning dew
Video Games are a still an evolving entertainment medium with more facets than most due to the fact that it can be as interactive as narrative, unlike books, movies, board games or even sports, respectively. To that end, the evolution of games as vehicles for storytelling, and how, and how seriously, they are taken continues to evolve as well. I've recently thought about it in three eras, but also phases that continue to overlap. The first being...

Games As... Movies

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I'm not referring to the unfortunate efforts to translate games to the big screen over the last few decades, but the much more successful effort to translate a cinematic quality to the game screen. Whether that was literal FMV movies featuring actors performing scenes in live action, like Command & Conquer Red Alert, Sega CD's entire gimmick, or something as simple and elegant as Hideo Kojima trying to make an 80s action thriller in 8-Bit with Metal Gear 2, which would become the dominant mold for this practice, and eventually bringing digitized actors back in for the best of both worlds. This was one of the earliest and the most successful means of showing the traditional narrative capabilities of the medium while taking that step beyond of actually making you a participant in the action.

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The one I'd really like to briefly focus on is the Wing Commander series, which tried to make games with a cinematic sense of dialogue and action. The first game accomplished this traditionally enough; between missions you'd chat up your wingmen at the bar, and when it was time for the next mission there'd be a siren and cinematic showing you running to your ship (this was very cool), all using in-game graphics. Wing Commander II took this to the next level by having a super-sized voiced edition on CD (yes, they were previously available on floppy disc, maybe even just MORE for the voice version =). This all culminated in Wing Commander III, billed as a full on "Interactive Movie" starring Mark Hamill and Malcolm McDowell (the Privateer equivalent had a young Clive Owen and Christopher freakin' Walken!). The special edition of Wing Commander III came inside a stylized film reel-shaped tin so the message couldn't be much clearer; this wasn't "just a game," it was a live action movie you played!

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Finally, Wing Commander director Chris Roberts actually got to direct a true live action Wing Commander movie starring Freddie Prince Jr. and Matthew Lillard, which, despite having the original creator make it, true to game to movie form, was terrible. Just as film directors aren't necessarily great at adapting games into movies, neither are game directors as it turns out (better luck to Neil Druckmann)!

Games As... Art

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We've all heard this phrase ad nauseum, or at least you did if you're of my generation. I think of this as less traditionally narrative driven; these games aren't necessarily trying to be a book or movie in game form, these are stories and worlds that could only be experienced the way they are by exploring the interactive form of video games, like Shadow of the Colossus or even the Souls games and a lot of indie games today do process-driven storytelling by default. The gameplay loop IS the story, and that might just be watching a flower grow. In these games the stories are intertwined with the gameplay and are as much about experiencing what it's like exploring giant isolating worlds as they are about manipulating your controller effectively to fight the giant monsters in them. It's also a much more subjective criteria than games with cinematic narrative qualities, where the argument is as much about if games are or can be art or are more like... games! You wouldn't traditionally categorize Chess as ART for example, even if the Chess pieces themselves were beautifully hand-crafted and valuable works.

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These archetypes also aren't mutually exclusive, and have evolved together into a something that combines that immersive gameplay style with the "games as movies" cinematic narrative flair. Sometimes old has met new and resulted in controversial results, like "games as... medium defying postmodern avant garde cinema," like Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty (like it or not, it was definitely going for... uh, something =). But now ambitious games like this have settled into a certain established, acceptable framework, which even weirdos like Kojima can comfortably work in...

Games As... Prestige Entertainment

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Now games are presented to us like Prestige TV dramas; they're even available streaming! This feels like the dominant mode of AAA single player gaming now with franchises like Horizon Forbidden West, God of War Ragnarok (TV show coming to Amazon Prime!), and A Plague Tale: Requiem, among others, being nominated for Game of the Year like they're obvious awards bait or "Oscar movies," because they're the gaming equivalent (The Last of Us is now awards bait in two mediums, but more on that next).

This isn't the aim or necessarily even the logical end of this progression, more a side effect, but now life is imitating art imitating life in the case of HBO's The Last of Us [mild, general SPOILERS ahead], which is trying so hard to be true, if not always faithful, to the game, which was trying so hard to be like a prestige television drama itself. Do you really need to do a screen adaptation of something that there's already a YouTube video of? So, The Last of Us is either a perfect game to make into a show like this, or the least necessary, because the original basically already was one in the form of a game, but that's what makes the choices of this adaptation so interesting and instructive.

I was impressed with all the additional supplementary material in the first two episodes, whether it was background on the disease itself, Joel's daughter, or the beginning of the outbreak. The rest of it was a bit distracting in that I was busy comparing in my head how the show was different than the game, or, more often, just how much it was similar if not the same. I actually found the latter quite refreshing for a video game adaptation instead of, "Wouldn't it be better if King Koopa was just Dennis Hopper!?" (hey, we're getting a real Mario movie too, 4 year old me is thrilled; I asked her =). But it did still give me that cognitive dissonance, especially in the second episode where scenes of them walking around the ruins of Boston were basically like watching a playthrough of walking around in the game (and possibly just as CGI'd at times, actors aside)! Again, better problem to have, but sometimes it did feel too big for the material or too small for the medium.

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The biggest deviations that jumped out at me were of a kind, and that was the sensible removal of most of what would have been in-game action, such as sneaking around and fighting infected or just taking out some jabronis that owe you money, or blood. This made a lot of sense, but inadvertently created more narrative problems than I would have thought. For instance, it doesn't drive home what dangerous, low life dirt bags Joel and Tess are. Sure, they still SAY they are, but smuggling in defiance of an oppressive dictatorship doesn't really get the point across, quite the contrary in fact... And, "show, don't tell," right? This also made the transition from their day-to-day to hooking up with Ellie and the Fireflys (Fireflies? =) seem haphazard and rushed, like, we're just doing this all random in a hallway by coincidence instead of a formal sit-down offer? I guess it works if you didn't play the game, but not nearly as well, especially establishing the dynamic between the Firefly Leader, Joel, and Ellie respectively, which is HUGE later (maybe they'll give the former more to do to compensate).

Obviously the the biggest change so far was with Bill, and that's where, for better or or worse, it went from video scenes filmed in live action to a full fledged prestige TV episode! While I liked that they gave him this rich, character developing backstory, I'm not sure what the big picture payoff is because they essentially spun him off into his own side-story but removed him from his original role in the main plot. I was expecting it to payoff by showing us why he was the way he was when Joel and Ellie get to him, which I expected to be different from the game and what Joel expected. But as it is, they chose to remain more faithful to the story they were telling in that episode than the story from the game. It'll be interesting to see how that dynamic plays out with the show going forward.

Finally, my main point of concern is Joel is just too sympathetic and objectively not a bad guy, Pedro Pascal has those sad puppy dog eyes, and instead of him being a real fuckin' bastard acting indifferent, hostile or even cruel towards Ellie until he's sucked into their relationship before he realizes it... they basically tipped their hand in the first episode with his little PTSD protector trigger. It already seems too cozy, like they're just breakin' each other's balls, when it was never quite perfect between them in the game(s), which is important to the ending (Joel's redemption arc is actually his true damnation) and it makes me worry for how they'll handle those turns. Maybe I'm misremembering or overthinking it, and there's also the factor that it's a lot easier to tolerate an asshole between play sessions than when the asshole is one of the main pillars of a show you're watching. We'll see how it plays out, and as I said, I'm definitely interested in the nuts and bolts of it.

Games As... Games, and that's Enough

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Games don't just need to imitate the movies anymore, or agitate through artistic pretentions for recognition and validation, they're inside the big tent now, have been really, especially when it comes to "box office," but are now getting pushed as prestigious and award worthy fare at basically the highest levels of popular culture (whether or not you think that's gross); The Last of Us could go from the Game Awards to the Golden Globes. Of course, how different is it these days? This not only speaks to how the gaming medium's position has been elevated in the zeitgeist, but also to how streaming TV and big picture entertainment has become more like video games, or more adaptable and amenable to telling what were previously video game stories. This and other game adaptations being a part of this entertainment sphere could be as much a debated topic as prestige TV and streaming versus movies and the good and evil of the superhero genre takeover. What if The Last of Us is embraced by legacy media, HBO is already as big as it gets, and is showered with awards? What if it's shunned? In any case, I look forward to seeing how that particular game plays out.
 
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Hi Griff. Another great post, as usual. Thought I'd add some comments:

Video Games are a still an evolving entertainment medium with more facets than most due to the fact that it can be as interactive as narrative, unlike books, movies, board games or even sports, respectively. To that end, the evolution of games as vehicles for storytelling, and how, and how seriously, they are taken continues to evolve as well.

I've been thinking about the same topic for some time now. Specifically, I was thinking about how video games (movies too, I think) are not even close to hitting their full potential as a medium. I was wondering if that had to do with the medium's age. For example, poetry, which I would say may be the only medium that has reached its full potential, has been around since pre-history. It literally had thousands of years to evolve and develop, with the result being supreme masterpieces like the Odyssey or the Divine Comedy, works that make you rethink what words are even capable of. Poetry doesn't get any better than such examples. Other mediums are close too. Novels are pretty great. Theater was taken to wild places by Shakespeare. Comics have the advantage of being a hybrid of two ancient mediums - text and artwork. And so on.

What about games? Of course, we haven't gotten there yet, not remotely close. Will we? I don't know. Aside from the time factor (which I'm not sure how much it matters anyway; do games also need centuries before they hit that point? Does the medium's age really matter?), video games are also burdened by constraints such as the available technology and factors like budget. You are only limited by your imagination when writing a book, but developing games is a whole other matter, unfortunately. Video games are also (currently) burdened by the fact that most developers are either experimenting with the medium, or they misunderstand how it works to begin with, which brings me to your points below:

I've recently thought about it in three eras, but also phases that continue to overlap. The first being...

Games As... Movies

This, to me, is the prime example of poorly using the medium. I've ranted here before about how relying on cutscenes to tell the story (and that's not even speaking of interactive movies, like your example) is just terrible game making. Especially in interactive movies. Can you even call these games? Someone might say: of course, they're interactive after all. But that depends on how you define "interactive". Books are interactive too; you build an entire mental image of a world in your head from the words you read. It doesn't get more interactive than that. Yet books aren't games. So there has to be more to games than just "interactivity". As for games that rely heavily or primarily on cutscenes, despite some "successful" examples (The Last of Us, even Yakuza, which I love), I think this trend needs to disappear if games are to evolve anywhere. Relying on cutscenes in a game is like relying on large pieces of text in a movie. Now, I'm not being anal about cutscenes ("never use them you filthy pleb!"), and I'm not saying they should never be used. But they should be used sparingly, with the main thrust of the story being delivered through gameplay. This brings us to:

Games As... Art

We've all heard this phrase ad nauseum, or at least you did if you're of my generation. I think of this as less traditionally narrative driven; these games aren't necessarily trying to be a book or movie in game form, these are stories and worlds that could only be experienced the way they are by exploring the interactive form of video games, like Shadow of the Colossus or even the Souls games and a lot of indie games today do process-driven storytelling by default. The gameplay loop IS the story, and that might just be watching a flower grow. In these games the stories are intertwined with the gameplay and are as much about experiencing what it's like exploring giant isolating worlds as they are about manipulating your controller effectively to fight the giant monsters in them.

This. I couldn't have put it better. It's the first step to figuring out how to use the medium effectively. "I defeated Malenia with a colossal greatsword". That is the story. Not large pieces of text you read here and there, not long cutscenes. The gameplay and your actions. Your actions took place in the "timeline" of that world, and so they are the story.

I also like how you said about stories that can only be experienced as video games, which is a great point. Shadow of the Colossus could only have been a video game. Berserk could only be a manga. The Odyssey could only be a poem. All these great works have that in common, that they won't be the same if transferred into another medium, which is a good indicator of using their mediums effectively.

It's also a much more subjective criteria than games with cinematic narrative qualities, where the argument is as much about if games are or can be art or are more like... games! You wouldn't traditionally categorize Chess as ART for example, even if the Chess pieces themselves were beautifully hand-crafted and valuable works.

Well, you can derive aesthetic pleasure from elegant chess plays or maneuvers, so in that sense there is an "art" to chess after all. It's the same way with Math, for example. Euler's Identity is a common example of aesthetic mathematical beauty:
{\displaystyle e^{i\pi }+1=0}
. In other words, it can be a "game" or a "sport" or even a "field of science", and still be "art". They're not mutually exclusive.

A good example of something being both a sport and an art is dance. Or perhaps martial arts.

Games As... Prestige Entertainment

The most cringe-worthy category, in my opinion. Great analysis of the Last of Us show, by the way. I have things to say about it, but that's for another thread.

Games As... Games, and that's Enough

Games don't just need to imitate the movies anymore, or agitate through artistic pretentions for recognition and validation, they're inside the big tent now, have been really, especially when it comes to "box office," but are now getting pushed as prestigious and award worthy fare at basically the highest levels of popular culture (whether or not you think that's gross); The Last of Us could go from the Game Awards to the Golden Globes. Of course, how different is it these days? This not only speaks to how the gaming medium's position has been elevated in the zeitgeist, but also to how streaming TV and big picture entertainment has become more like video games, or more adaptable and amenable to telling what were previously video game stories. This and other game adaptations being a part of this entertainment sphere could be as much a debated topic as prestige TV and streaming versus movies and the good and evil of the superhero genre takeover. What if The Last of Us is embraced by legacy media, HBO is already as big as it gets, and is showered with awards? What if it's shunned? In any case, I look forward to seeing how that particular game plays out.

Very true. But sadly, I think a lot of developers suffer from an inferiority complex in regards to their medium despite all the above facts. You can see it in the way they still try to imitate other mediums anyway. You can see it even in award shows (Al Pacino, any one?). So while the medium is more respected now by people outside of it, it's the people inside that are still not respecting it enough, in my opinion.
 
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I haven't played The Last of Us, so I can't comment on that. But I've thought a lot about the idea of "Games as Art", so I have some things to say about it!

Well, you can derive aesthetic pleasure from elegant chess plays or maneuvers, so in that sense there is an "art" to chess after all. It's the same way with Math, for example. Euler's Identity is a common example of aesthetic mathematical beauty:
{\displaystyle e^{i\pi }+1=0}
. In other words, it can be a "game" or a "sport" or even a "field of science", and still be "art". They're not mutually exclusive.

A good example of something being both a sport and an art is dance. Or perhaps martial arts.
I agree with this. It's a somewhat controversial position in the field of Aesthetics, but I believe that as long as something A: has been created by someone, and B: can be appreciated in terms of its aesthetic qualities (be they good or bad), then it is 'art'. If I can say "that is a beautiful thing you have created", then, even if there was no idea you meant to communicate with it, it would feel odd to me to not say that the thing you have created is an artwork. Be it a hammer, or a pot, or a blanket. Obviously these things have practical uses, so they are not merely works of art, but they're things someone made which I can assess aesthetically; if they're not art, they might as well be. I guess the main criticism of this view is that it renders too many things as 'art'; and, while I understand that concern, it doesn't really dissuade me.

Bringing this to 'games', I'm quite sympathetic to philosopher C. Thi Nguyen's views on the matter. Games are art, including video games, but also including non-video, non-computer games, indeed including chess. He writes that they "engage with human practicality -- with our ability to decide and to do". In real life, we're at the mercy of happenstance; our struggles are "usually forced on us by an arbitrary and indifferent world". The world of a game, in contrast, is crafted by a game-designer to create a very particular sort of struggle. They designate our goals, the abilities with which we are able to pursue those goals, and the obstacles which seek to obstruct those goals. These things taken together, the role of a game-designer is to "sculpt a form of agency". A game-designer is an artist who carefully shapes a world to struggle through, the navigation of which is "interesting, fun, or even beautiful to the struggler".

Chess, poker, hide and seek, even professional sports like baseball and tennis, are all carefully-designed struggles, which, if the struggle is crafted well, will feel 'beautiful' to go through. This can be true even without any clearly defined narrative, story, or thematic underpinnings. While not every game will tell the player a story, every player will be able to talk away from a game they played with a story about that struggle (the above-mentioned case of "how I defeated Malenia" being a perfect example of this). This isn't to say that a game-designer can't also tell a story (or that a story cannot enhance a game), but rather to argue the point that they don't need to in order for them to have made 'art': they have already done so in shaping a world for people to struggle through, whose craftsmanship can be assessed as anywhere from very beautiful to not very beautiful at all.

And, of course, by saying something is 'art', I'm not necessarily placing a positive value on it. "This is art" is not meant by me as a normative claim, but rather a descriptive one.
 
The actual problem with it is that if everything can be construed as art, then there's no meaning to it.
Yeah, I'm aware of the problem, but as said that doesn't really dissuade me. It's not even the case, under my view, that 'everything' can be construed as art; natural phenomena, having not been created by anyone, wouldn't be eligible under my framework (unless one believes that natural phenomena were created by some divine consciousness, but that's another can of worms entirely). We can evaluate the aesthetic merits (or lack-thereof) of anything that exists; when we're doing this with something that's been created, I take that to then also be an evaluation of the thing's artistic merits (or lack-thereof).

One could still be concerned that my view effectively treats "art" and "creation" as synonyms, though I'd hardly consider a word to be meaningless just because it is synonymous with another word. Even then, however, I don't think they necessarily need to be treated as interchangeable terms. I'd say that a created-thing 'becomes' a piece of art when it is evaluated as one, in the same way it might be said that something 'becomes' a tool when it is used as one. After all, a rock might simply be a rock until it is used to break something open, at which point it seems reasonable to also call it a 'tool'. Thinking about it in this way, the ontology of the thing depends on our perception of it.
 

Dark Emperor

I’ll gnaw right through your arteries!
Games As... Games, and that's Enough

Games don't just need to imitate the movies anymore, or agitate through *autistic* pretentions for recognition and validation
Fixed that for you. This is the only valid way games should be seen. Even the examples you gave under the "Games As... Art" subheading have GAMEPLAY as the front and center of the game. Games should have never tried to become movies in the first place, and I reject live-action adaptations. Tomb Raider live-action, Silent Hill live-action, World of Warcraft live-action, Resident Evil live-action, and the many others I haven't listed, shit now Last of Us, and an upcoming God of War live-action? No Thank you. I will just stick to the games, especially since most of these projects are given to suits who don't a shit about what they're adapting and hoping to extract as much money out of gullible fans as possible.
 

Walter

Administrator
Staff member
Art for me is a question of: Does it touch your soul and inspire you, or is it merely something to pass time?

To apply it to this thread, I think even something that starts as a business venture has the capacity to inspire people. Ads can inspire people. I know that sounds rotten. I know that capital A art tends to be cloistered in a sacred place with rules around it. But games are a fine example, because they are a collaborative medium that usually works within the confines of business ventures. The people making the game want to create something impactful, and then there's business backing it up and helping it get made. It just naturally has more hurdles to overcome than something that comes from a single artist.

I think it's natural that games as a medium seized on the biggest fish in storytelling at the time—movies—as soon as they were seemingly capable of mimicking them. Just like movies tended to adapt novels—the biggest fish in storytelling at the time— as they were coming of age (to name some low-hanging fruit: Gone with the Wind, Wizard of Oz). It's a grasp for relevance by mimicking the form of something established. But games are capable of standing on their own as a wholly different medium. And the instances in which they mirror other mediums feel like a vestigial phenomenon to me. They are like a dance routine they feel must be performed for large audiences to absorb the story they're telling. Because the playing of the game is what makes the medium special.

Fixed that for you.
Don't be a dirtbag. Please drop this ableist shit.
 

Griffith

With the streak of a tear, Like morning dew
Edit: I added pictures to the original post! Don't know why I neglected to originally... admittedly, kind of an oversight.

Hi Griff. Another great post, as usual. Thought I'd add some comments:

Thank you, and I appreciate your commentary about the growth and evolution of these mediums.

What about games? Of course, we haven't gotten there yet, not remotely close. Will we? I don't know. Aside from the time factor (which I'm not sure how much it matters anyway; do games also need centuries before they hit that point? Does the medium's age really matter?), video games are also burdened by constraints such as the available technology

Constrained, or evolutionary dead-ended by too much available technology perhaps? I think of the experience of VR versus traditional gaming and it's almost the same debate: how much is it the same experience of storytelling and how much is it different, or not? VR is like the interactivity taken to an extreme, the point of simulation or even the sensation of "presence" in a virtual world. This obviously can still be art too, but I wonder how this parallel evolutionary track will crossover and impact the evolution of traditional gaming and vice versa. Like, could gaming as we know it essentially go extinct or become niche, and will VR become so advanced it no longer resembles tradtional storytelling in any way? This is like a whole new thread, sorry. =)

This. I couldn't have put it better. It's the first step to figuring out how to use the medium effectively. "I defeated Malenia with a colossal greatsword". That is the story. Not large pieces of text you read here and there, not long cutscenes. The gameplay and your actions. Your actions took place in the "timeline" of that world, and so they are the story.

Well, I have to credit you as well, you've been championing this virtue of the Souls series and the like on here all along.

Well, you can derive aesthetic pleasure from elegant chess plays or maneuvers, so in that sense there is an "art" to chess after all. It's the same way with Math, for example. Euler's Identity is a common example of aesthetic mathematical beauty:
{\displaystyle e^{i\pi }+1=0}
. In other words, it can be a "game" or a "sport" or even a "field of science", and still be "art". They're not mutually exclusive.

A good example of something being both a sport and an art is dance. Or perhaps martial arts.
Art for me is a question of: Does it touch your soul and inspire you, or is it merely something to pass time?

Yep, it's where you find it, and obviously even naturally occurring beauty, a person or place, can inspire and be immortalized in art. It begs the question of where art or artistic qualities begin, with the muse, the idea(l), or the resulting expression or work.

To apply it to this thread, I think even something that starts as a business venture has the capacity to inspire people. Ads can inspire people. I know that sounds rotten. I know that capital A art tends to be cloistered in a sacred place with rules around it. But games are a fine example, because they are a collaborative medium that usually works within the confines of business ventures. The people making the game want to create something impactful, and then there's business backing it up and helping it get made.

Makes complete sense. Back in the day it was "patrons," right? It's just their motives were arguably more pure than a financial return on investment or corporate bottom lines, but as capitalism does, greed has facilitated a lot of great works despite the process of making the sausage, and hey, now we have patreon!

I think it's natural that games as a medium seized on the biggest fish in storytelling at the time—movies—as soon as they were seemingly capable of mimicking them. Just like movies tended to adapt novels—the biggest fish in storytelling at the time— as they were coming of age (to name some low-hanging fruit: Gone with the Wind, Wizard of Oz). It's a grasp for relevance by mimicking the form of something established.

And of course film is also relatively young, modern technological medium that's had to continually contend with challenges to its legitimacy compared to its forebears, whether it be the aforementioned novels or legitimate theatre.

But games are capable of standing on their own as a wholly different medium. And the instances in which they mirror other mediums feel like a vestigial phenomenon to me. They are like a dance routine they feel must be performed for large audiences to absorb the story they're telling. Because the playing of the game is what makes the medium special.

And what better proof or validation than to see them successfully adapted to, or inpire, another artistic medium, which brings me back to The Last of Us and its penultimate episode...

The Last of Us (HBO) - A lot has happened since my initial review, there's been a couple more little story arcs, at least one if not a couple more outstanding episodes, in what's been a largely successful, certainly from an audience standpoint, adaptation. Arguably the most successful game-to-screen adaptation ever (maybe it's not even arguable). Though, it's certainly not perfect, creative decisions naturally had to be made, certain doors opened and others closed, etc. Episode 5 was the high and low, as people saw the kind of heart-rending storytelling gaming has been doing well for over a decade, if not more, while the snobs also came for the bloater. Perhaps the latter is why even I think the show has too few "zombie" encounters, to the detriment of the show at this point in my opinion. It's not just that you need cool, dumb zombie action, it's also a matter of balancing the show and maintaining the storytelling integrity of this world, and the zombie plague arguably isn't a big enough factor at this point. Without going into specifics, I think the last episode would have benefitted from being two parts and including more of the canon zombie encounters from the game to provide organic character and relationship development. Absent that connective tissue, I felt that despite hitting a lot of the major milestones and scenes from the game, word for word even, they were unnecessarily robbed of some of their inherent impact because it was no longer inherent (but they seemingly took it for granted). Anyway, it's a relatively minor complaint, and I have some more, in an otherwise successful program, but another episode to flesh all that out and reestablish the ongoing danger of the zombie plague wouldn't have hurt. If you told me a couple months ago my biggest complaint about the show would be, "not enough mindless zombie action" I'd take it.

On the flipside, they've done a very effective job of essentially making every story on the show, including that of all the supporting characters, into an analog about Joel's and Ellie's relationship, really zeroed in and drilled down into that in a much shorter amount of screen time than they have in a game. It should make for an effective execution of the ending... if they don't fuck it up. This past episode and how they portrayed them, brutal and dangerous, has me feeling confident though. They've also done a better job than the games establishing and setting up Ellie for the sequel, and now my hope is that within the necessary adaptative re-writes they can also go in there and maybe make some... improvements to Part II. I mean, unlike this one, which was a perfectly simple and elegant story to begin with, they can't really fuck it up any worse than the source material. =)
 
It was also funny to me that they included the original voice actor for Joel in the shows penultimate episode, but I agree Griffith, they should really sprinkle some more infected here and there so people don't forget, Joel and Ellie are mostly just chilling with no real care that there could be an infected around any corner or in the wild and it's a bit strange because there are sometimes hordes of them that come out of nowhere, but I guess they want to focus more on the characters and be less like the walking dead, it's almost a reverse walking dead where in that show towards the end the inflected just become an annoyance and it focuses more on the humans and the eccentric characters in the world.

But I will say the word does seem a lot less threatening because of it , and I think showing the affects of the fungus spreading more would be good, and they only have that one horde section where you actually see people being attacked. It would be cool if Joel and Ellie are in a situation where they just see a dude getting ravaged by a clicker or inflected, at the moment it just seems that they are going from place to place having these episodic adventures which is cool but honestly sometimes I forget it's a zombie show, it's more of a survival story like that movie The Road starring Vigo Mortensen
 
Thank you, and I appreciate your commentary about the growth and evolution of these mediums.

Thanks. And yeah, I enjoy talking about this topic, especially where video-game storytelling potential is concerned. This forum is one of the few places where I get to do so, as I'm not exactly surrounded by gamers where I live haha.

Constrained, or evolutionary dead-ended by too much available technology perhaps? I think of the experience of VR versus traditional gaming and it's almost the same debate: how much is it the same experience of storytelling and how much is it different, or not? VR is like the interactivity taken to an extreme, the point of simulation or even the sensation of "presence" in a virtual world. This obviously can still be art too, but I wonder how this parallel evolutionary track will crossover and impact the evolution of traditional gaming and vice versa. Like, could gaming as we know it essentially go extinct or become niche, and will VR become so advanced it no longer resembles tradtional storytelling in any way? This is like a whole new thread, sorry. =)

The latter (dead-ended) is a good way of looking at it too and I didn't consider it from that angle. Limitations breed creativity after all. I mean, just look at pixel art, an artform that was born out of technology not being able to render figures like it does today.

Concerning VR, I usually fantasize about being able to play something like what we see in sci-fi one day, like in Sword Art Online (shit anime, great concept) for example. Currently though, and take this statement with a grain of salt because my experience with VR is very limited, VR seems to me still crude and gimmicky and doesn't seem to be a dead-end to the medium's evolution yet. Again, you guys have a lot more experience with it and may disagree on that, but I'm usually unmoved by trailers showcasing a new VR title. It's why I haven't gathered the will to spend money on a VR set.

Would love reading through a thread about this topic.

Well, I have to credit you as well, you've been championing this virtue of the Souls series and the like on here all along.

And I have to credit someone I used to speak with in another forum I frequented back in the day, who introduced me to this concept and gave me a whole new appreciation for the medium that I didn't have at the time. Funny how gamers understand games better than many developers do.

Yep, it's where you find it, and obviously even naturally occurring beauty, a person or place, can inspire and be immortalized in art. It begs the question of where art or artistic qualities begin, with the muse, the idea(l), or the resulting expression or work.

I like to think of an artwork as a mirror that reflects its inspiration. That clearer and purer the mirror, the greater the art. In that sense, the art is the "process" of that reflection.

And of course film is also relatively young, modern technological medium that's had to continually contend with challenges to its legitimacy compared to its forebears, whether it be the aforementioned novels or legitimate theatre.

I wonder if we will live to become the new, elitist generation that looks down with disdain at an upcoming and new medium, sneering at how it tries and fails to live up to the high-art that is video-games. What they will think of next?

It was also funny to me that they included the original voice actor for Joel in the shows penultimate episode, but I agree Griffith, they should really sprinkle some more infected here and there so people don't forget, Joel and Ellie are mostly just chilling with no real care that there could be an infected around any corner or in the wild and it's a bit strange because there are sometimes hordes of them that come out of nowhere, but I guess they want to focus more on the characters and be less like the walking dead, it's almost a reverse walking dead where in that show towards the end the inflected just become an annoyance and it focuses more on the humans and the eccentric characters in the world.

But I will say the word does seem a lot less threatening because of it , and I think showing the affects of the fungus spreading more would be good, and they only have that one horde section where you actually see people being attacked. It would be cool if Joel and Ellie are in a situation where they just see a dude getting ravaged by a clicker or inflected, at the moment it just seems that they are going from place to place having these episodic adventures which is cool but honestly sometimes I forget it's a zombie show, it's more of a survival story like that movie The Road starring Vigo Mortensen

They made the world infinitely less dangerous when they changed the disease from an airborne danger to...zombie make-out sessions (I just...that was truly bizarre). I get what you guys are saying, but honestly I prefer stories like this one to focus more on the human element than, well, dumbass zombies. My favorite Walking Dead season is 2, which was criticized everywhere for the lack of zombies. What I'm trying to say is that these monsters are better used sparingly to increase their impact for when they do show up.

Anyway, I'm behind on the show. The last thing I saw was the Henry and Sam episode. Gotta catch up before I can read the rest of Griff's post!
 

Walter

Administrator
Staff member
I wonder if we will live to become the new, elitist generation that looks down with disdain at an upcoming and new medium, sneering at how it tries and fails to live up to the high-art that is video-games. What they will think of next?
How do you feel about TikTok, grandpa? :isidro: or :mozgus:
 
How do you feel about TikTok, grandpa? :isidro: or :mozgus:

More like:

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Really, I despise it and wish that it, along with Twitter, would shrivel up and die already. It's less because "the kids" are using it and more that people my age or older are constantly on it when they're around. My uncle is an addict, and while he watches serious stuff on TikTok, like snippets from lectures or news or whatever, the constant barrage of background noise from videos makes me wanna kill myself. Then there's my sister...:magni:

Edit: But yes, it's also a shitty platform that allowed immeasurable volumes of human stupidity to spread unchecked. It's genuinely harmful in some respects.
 
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Really, I despise it and wish that it, along with Twitter, would shrivel up and die already. It's less because "the kids" are using it and more that people my age or older are constantly on it when they're around. My uncle is an addict, and while he watches serious stuff on TikTok, like snippets from lectures or news or whatever, the constant barrage of background noise from videos makes me wanna kill myself. Then there's my sister...:magni:

Edit: But yes, it's also a shitty platform that allowed immeasurable volumes of human stupidity to spread unchecked. It's genuinely harmful in some respects.
I don't like Tiktok either, or I don't like any media with fragmented information.But the environment seems to be getting rowdier, and the discussion on social media is becoming one-sided.
 

Griffith

With the streak of a tear, Like morning dew
It was also funny to me that they included the original voice actor for Joel in the shows penultimate episode

And miscast him too, he should have just switched roles with David and then let him eat the scenery to make it memorable. The casting of villains on this show was maybe the worst part.

I agree Griffith, they should really sprinkle some more infected here and there so people don't forget, Joel and Ellie are mostly just chilling with no real care that there could be an infected around any corner or in the wild and it's a bit strange because there are sometimes hordes of them that come out of nowhere

Yeah, not just zombie action too, but Joel basically killing his way through that town would have gone a long way towards supporting the ending so it didn't seem so out of left field at that point, and, ya know, a little action never hurts.

I guess they want to focus more on the characters and be less like the walking dead, it's almost a reverse walking dead where in that show towards the end the inflected just become an annoyance and it focuses more on the humans and the eccentric characters in the world.

Are WE worse than the zombies!? DEEEEP


Man, half these guys are semi-cancelled now. :shrug:

honestly sometimes I forget it's a zombie show, it's more of a survival story like that movie The Road starring Vigo Mortensen

This is probably the intention, or they'd be proud to hear that. It's the whole "inferiority complex" we discussed. They're treating the whole zombie aspect the same way early GoT treated magic, strictly a necessary evil, but I think they errored too much in that direction. Again, not a fatal flaw, but an unforced error in my opinion.

The latter (dead-ended) is a good way of looking at it too and I didn't consider it from that angle. Limitations breed creativity after all. I mean, just look at pixel art, an artform that was born out of technology not being able to render figures like it does today.

Concerning VR, I usually fantasize about being able to play something like what we see in sci-fi one day, like in Sword Art Online (shit anime, great concept) for example. Currently though, and take this statement with a grain of salt because my experience with VR is very limited, VR seems to me still crude and gimmicky and doesn't seem to be a dead-end to the medium's evolution yet. Again, you guys have a lot more experience with it and may disagree on that, but I'm usually unmoved by trailers showcasing a new VR title. It's why I haven't gathered the will to spend money on a VR set.

Well, I was basically thinking of it in terms of the various species of proto-humans that came before us and whose evolutionary tract ended rather than reaching full potential. I was basically talking out of my ass! A lot of VR mainstreaming is more aspirational, but then a lot of rich, powerful people in the field have that aspiration and the means to push it, so who knows how the two "sub-mediums" may eventually crossover if it becomes more seamless. Motion control is a link, though which has also proven limited beyond the Wii (but that sold 100 million units!).

Would love reading through a thread about this topic.

Well, hello there...
And if you want an account of a specific VR experience: my running diary of playing Half-Life Alyx begins here.

I wonder if we will live to become the new, elitist generation that looks down with disdain at an upcoming and new medium, sneering at how it tries and fails to live up to the high-art that is video-games. What they will think of next?

Hmmmm... designer drugs for specific sensory illusions and fantasies. Someone call me a chemist!

They made the world infinitely less dangerous when they changed the disease from an airborne danger to...zombie make-out sessions (I just...that was truly bizarre).

That was the first major change actually, which I attributed to them not wanting to deal with the masking scenes (even though everyone can relate), or because it didn't quite make sense why all the zombies don't spread it this way and we'd basically be completely fucked anyway if it were airborne (they do mention bloaters having spores, but didn't even bother having them kill one...).

I get what you guys are saying, but honestly I prefer stories like this one to focus more on the human element than, well, dumbass zombies.

Here here, I'm with ya man, and they obviously needed to reduce or minimize zombie encounters to when it made logical sense, but I don't think anyone was expecting them to basically be eliminated. Let me put it this way, I didn't want gratuitous zombie action or for that to be a crutch of the show, but the story-related zombie material? By all means.


Finally, The Last of Us (HBO) finished, and they hewed extremely close to the text in the finale, though added a new revelation and context that worked for me, and honestly I could have used a little more room for the material to breath at the end. It was cut really tight, more like a movie than a TV show (which makes the indulgence shown to some earlier, literal DLC material a little weird). All in all, I think it was pretty damn successful, easily the best video game adaptation without thinking too hard about it (am I other "contenders" besides Sonic, RE, and Mortal Kombat? =). Like I've said, I would have used the medium to flesh out the latter half more as they did in the first 5 episodes, but they kept the plot tight and maybe they figured they had the goods in the finale, so don't fuck it up (again, could have used MORE setup and talk here about the stakes and opposing positions). I also think some of the incongruities between Joel's character on the show and his actions weren't completely resolved, though he was more neutral, and less contemptful, in his, um, work here. They clearly did some groundwork for Part II throughout, including one particular shot held in the finale, and hopefully they can elevate that material. I'm also expecting us to basically get a Part III exclusive to the show, which will basically complete the arc of games not only being adapted to TV but essentially transitioning completely into prestige TV dramas. Yay? =)

Speaking of the relationship between streaming TV and video games, it seemingly goes both ways too, as the latest season, and particularly the latest episode, of The Mandalorian was basically a live action video game more than the The Last of Us even was. The show has always been a little gamey with the new objectives and level-like environments in each episode, but this last one completed the show's transition into live action video game that reminded me of Dark Souls (it helped that the place looked a lot like Dark Souls II DLC): Mando and Grogu reach a new location, scan it, explore, are attacked by a small mob, defeat it and bypass some lesser enemies, encounter a future boss, are forced to backtrack while the lesser enemies from before are now a threat, return to the level and replay it as a different character, kill essentially a respawned mob, defeat the boss' multiple phases, and then finally proceed to the end of level cutscene and potentially a much bigger boss! :ganishka:

But it was great! And a nice contrast with The Last of Us' slower approach, whereas here "the action was the story," punctuated by the quiet moments to follow, both giving each more meaning than they otherwise would have. I just found it very interesting juxtaposition in the context of this subject.
 
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Can't resist telling me my point of view.First of all, :chomp: I think there is no doubt that both games and movies are art.On the other hand, different artistic techniques are different forms of expression of games and films.The development of virtual reality technology has opened up new possibilities for the presentation of games and movies, but I think the integration between them will depend on the actual situation.For games, my preference is to focus on experience and acquisition.These two aspects are not simply achieved through the "I feel like I'm there" feeling.In fact, the most important aspect of any art that can move people is to resonate with the reader or audience.
Whatever the form of expression, as long as it can move people is a good work.
So I think movies can be 2D or 3D, games can be flat or virtual reality.I think games and movies or comics can be mixed together.But how much of a role virtual reality plays in that, I don't know, I'm neutral.I think it will increase the enjoyment of some players, but it won't fundamentally change the experience of the game.After all, some people get dizzy when using VR.

Digression: really looking forward to Elden Ring DLC.:ubik:
 
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