In a recent post on his personal blog, God of War designer David Jaffe felt the need to let everybody know that he’s not bagging on Metal Gear Solid 4, but he also managed to touch a very sensitive area in video games: the emotion which emanates from the games we’re playing. A very interesting read and some great thoughts on the matter.
For example, Jaffe says that today’s games rarely manage to make you “feel” anything through gameplay – cutscenes are the ones responsible for that at the moment. And that’s not really a good thing. He wrote:
“The recently released flower immersed me and made me feel something. Hell, I even felt a bit of emotion in Gears of War 2 (altho, to be fair, it was emotional connection created via cut scene, not gameplay). But overall, I feel the medium is either not capable of creating and sustaining deep emotions or we have simply not come close to understanding how to do it on a consistent basis. I am open to it, but I’m just being honest with how I feel about the current state of storytelling in gameplay.”
I did give this matter a thought and, as strange as it might sound, I do agree with Jaffe that modern video games fail to deliver any emotion through gameplay. However, I do believe that old games (from the era when “cutscenes” were limited to a few still images) did achieve much more on the matter. The first title that crosses my mind is Another World, a title in which, most of the time, you were playing together with an AI controlled character. There was a bond created between these two characters, even though they rarely interacted with each other, there was an intense feeling of friendship. Emotion. Something which, indeed, in today’s games is generally missing. But does this mean that people who actually feel “something” while playing the game should be considered freaks? Of course not!
Jaffe writes: “I’m not saying folks who say they get emotional are ‘wrong’. That’s great they feel that way. Altho sometimes I get the feeling that SOME of those folks are just clinging and making false claims because they WANT games to be that way and are willing to tell themselves that games are that way even tho they actually are not.”
The conclusion? “One day it will either be solved cause someone finally makes a game where the storytelling power of games can not be denied or we’ll just keep going round and round” – David Jaffe provides it too. Hopefully that day is closer than ever.