Even more interesting that these were the games that went above and beyond. These games - some of the most innovative the industry has seen (in my opinion) have tackled some amazingly deep subject matter.
Even beyond that, that some of these do this in ways that film still hasn't yet to hit. From a writing perspective, that structure may seem difficult in gaming. After all it's just point, shoot, kill, right?
Ah, right, there's also some pretty pissed off birds in there too.
But, hanging just outside of the common games are these, dare I say it, emotionally intense games. And they're intense for entirely different reasons than you think.
With no dialogue or text, this game manages to create an immensely evocative world. The soundtrack was also the first ever nominated for a Grammy from a video game company. I mention this because it's relevant to the discussion of emotionally engaging game titles, even with absolutely no text or dialogue whatsofreakingever.
The soundtrack and the imagery are incredibly evocative, which creates a weirdly cinematic feel to the game.
Which takes us to the full sense of another game. Journey was a film-esque story in a lot of ways. You can easily beat it in the length of time it would take to watch a really (short to current audiences) film, but it leaves a lot in its wake.
Papo & Yo
This is the second time I have seen Vander discuss Papo & Yo and it's no less evocative or inspiring the second time around.
One thing that I've always found with hearing him speak, especially about this game, is how personal this story is - and beyond just what the game meant to make and create, but also how it's affected others.
Papo &Yo is, to a certain extent, a traditional platformer. Puzzles make up the gameplay, and the story progresses the further you go in. The story, however, is the not-so-traditional part of the gambit.
Minority Media, and Vander Caballero, have made a game that tells the story that is autobiographical in context. A story about a young boy and his abusive father, which metamorphoses into a young boy and a giant monster that gets mad when he eats 'frogs'.
Vander's story takes a story that is so often personal, and puts it into a place that games seldom go. Into a world of emotion that is so seldom touched by gameplay.
|The emotions most commonly felt by game players.|
Papo & Yo is a game that is marked by catharsis - something most often treaded into by filmmakers.
The player experiences catharsis in Papo & Yo for many reasons that would destroy the amazing arc of the game if I went into it, but it's something that takes something that we have seen in writing in film and TV and transcends it in some ways.
That said, Vander discusses something that goes beyond making games - or even making emotionally engaging narratives - which is that one of the biggest issues in gaming that faces creators is that cinematics and game play aren't tied together at all - it's a totally different experience.
Part of what makes gaming engaging is that it creates an engagement from the player - and from the viewer - hat goes beyond "simply" watching. But, and the ongoing issue is apparent - there's a disconnect.
The emotional spikes in reaction come from gameplay - not from story.
Beyond that, gaming can expand - and if these games are any indication... has expanded. Developing these stories takes a deft hand - in any media - and it's the disconnect that can live when developing and making new games.
That's what companies like Minority Media are breaking down. There's a world now where the disconnect between cinematic and ongoing play can create dialogues. Reading reviews of the game speak to how personally people react to it - because you control what happens and how. One of the things that Vander speaks of is the idea to "Embrace empathy through interaction" which, as a way of creating new dialogues and new creates an almost Boal-esque way to develop and change the world around.
Papo &Yo is available on Steam and PSN.
The Toronto Screenwriting Conference series of posts.