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loofah
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Postby loofah » Sun Mar 05, 2006 7:00 pm

just out of curiousity, would you cry about something awful that happened to someone you had never met?
And, if so, what is the difference, emotionally? Are you saying that if your brain received the exact same information, you would react completely differently depending on whether the person was real or not? What about if you thought the information was based on fiction, and then you found out it was about a real person? Would you then start crying?

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James
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Postby James » Sun Mar 05, 2006 7:08 pm

I forgot to add this to my previous post:

Chrono Crow wrote:it's no different than crying over a book (NOT DUMBLEDORE!!!) or movie (NO, MUFASA!)

What I was saying before is that theoretically it's no different, but as things stand it is because the stories just aren't good enough. Unless ...

smrq wrote:2. Xenogears has a better plot than most books or movies.

Well I haven't played that, so I wouldn't know, but I highly doubt it. Actually I don't, because most books and movies are probably a bit poopcakes. But to say that it's got a better story than most important books or movies (which is how I choose to interpret it, completely without justification) is a pretty bold claim. I suppose I ought to investigate it, though. Still, I've played every other game in the history of gaming and none of them have stories worth crying about. You should, however, bear in mind that I don't cry over books or movies either. I am more machine than man. Well, more man than woman, anyway.
Last edited by James on Sun Mar 05, 2006 7:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby deauthorized » Sun Mar 05, 2006 7:23 pm

James wrote:Actually I don't, because most books and movies are probably a bit sh​it.

You need to get out more. You need to embrace the shittiness that is the vast majority of Hollywood.

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James
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Postby James » Sun Mar 05, 2006 7:32 pm

loofah wrote:just out of curiousity, would you cry about something awful that happened to someone you had never met?
And, if so, what is the difference, emotionally? Are you saying that if your brain received the exact same information, you would react completely differently depending on whether the person was real or not? What about if you thought the information was based on fiction, and then you found out it was about a real person? Would you then start crying?

Stuart's implicit claim that any emotional reaction to a work of fiction is unwarranted is extreme and at odds with the psychology of most of humanity, but your implicit claim that there is no emotional difference between our reactions to reality and fiction is similarly exaggerated. I would suggest that for most people there is a quite obvious distinction between the emotions invoked by real and non-real sources. Primarily, our "emotional distance" from a work of fiction (or any other work of art) is generally considerably greater than that from events in our own lives, similarly to how, whilst hearing about an unfortunate event happening to someone you don't know can be sad or even tragic, it will not affect you as profoundly as if it had happened to someone close to you. If I thought an event was a work of fiction, I would not be as moved as if I thought it was fact. The difference between the former and the latter could theoretically be enough that, upon discovering it was true, I would be driven to tears. So the answer to your final rhetorical question is in my case "yes, but only if it was sufficiently sad".

With fiction, it's all in the telling. Simply relaying a depressing event isn't enough – it must be done in an artful and moving way. For example, here's a story: "There was a rabbit. It died". If you're feeling anything at all in reaction to that ... well, you probably have difficulty getting through the day without breaking down (unless some sort of exceptional circumstances make it relevant to you). With real events, however, the knowledge that it's actually happened is sufficient to evoke a response. Artistic presentation of real events can enhance the response, but there is a basic emotional reaction that's absent in fiction.

This brings up the matter of why we voluntarily expose ourselves to sad things in art. I wrote an essay about this at university. I would suggest that this is further evidence that the emotions inspired by art are fundamentally different to those inspired by reality. Perhaps you weren't denying this, but your attack on Stuart's coldness did seem very much to imply that they are one and the same. I'd be quite disturbed if people voluntarily subjected themselves to the negative emotions they feel at the darkest moments in their life.

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Postby Chrono Crow » Sun Mar 05, 2006 7:54 pm

James wrote:A lot more than I'm willing to read.


Have you played La Pucelle Tactics? That's the only game in recent years that's made me well up a bit. Strange, too, since it's really a silly game. But one scene just kinda got to me. FFVI got to me a little when I was a kid, but I was like 8 or 9. I can play it, no problem, now. Though, VI is the best in the series for invoking emotion. Because it really is like a book. People die left and right. And it isn't some silly, pretentious bullhonky like Aeris getting shishkabobed. A man's family is killed, another man's girlfriend dies from an illness, several characters are at odds with their very being, and there is a very psychopathic clown raining hell on the entire world.
quetzalcoatlus wrote:You should always make sure that all your important pussy cheese and uncle-rapist is backed up, in case your computer crashes.

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Postby deauthorized » Sun Mar 05, 2006 8:22 pm

James wrote:I wrote an essay about this at university.

It appears so.

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Postby giantsfan97 » Sun Mar 05, 2006 8:32 pm

Chrono Crow wrote:
James wrote:A lot more than I'm willing to read.


Its actually quite interesting...... I can't believe I just said that :shock: but its true
I love this post so much I'm going to take it behind the middle school and get it pregnant!

Alph Tech / STUART

Postby Alph Tech / STUART » Sun Mar 05, 2006 10:20 pm

loofah wrote:just out of curiousity, would you cry about something awful that happened to someone you had never met?


Depends how horrible, but we're talking like Holocaust-level here. And even then, only if I realized it had actually happened. With fiction, I can just write it off as the author's exaggeration. For instance, 1984 scared me a lot more when I found out there's a school actually modeled after Big Brother.

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Postby Lambs_Cows_Lambs » Mon Mar 06, 2006 1:03 am

I would have to say I'd cry. I used to cry reading those chicken soup for the soul books when I was in seventh grade, and if I see any stock footage or just something terrible in a movie, or just downright heartbreaking, I would cry.
James wrote:And so we return to one of life's essential questions... which is worse: being burnt to death by a dragon or being raped by the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man?

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Postby smrq » Mon Mar 06, 2006 4:36 am

James wrote:But to say that it's got a better story than most important books or movies (which is how I choose to interpret it, completely without justification) is a pretty bold claim.

Oh, I never said important books or movies- that would be bold, indeed. I would hardly claim that most books or movies are important, ergo, saying that Xenogears has a better plot than most situates it nicely above mediocre books and movies and nicely underneath the greats. I will say that I have read about six books in the last few months with clearly better plots than Xenogears. However, the real point is that Xenogears is in the upper echelon of games, and the middle echelon of stories as a whole. Game designers sadly have a ways to go before they start rivaling Dickens, Shakespeare, Bulgakov, what have you. I would, however, argue that nothing prevents games from achieving that status, except the common misconception that games do not provide as appropriate a medium. (Here I might make a bold claim that games have the potential to excel over film and literature in terms of emotional attachment; regardless of heartless bastards like Stuart, I would argue that playing as a character grants you more attachment to them and their fate than simply watching their actions.)

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Postby James » Mon Mar 06, 2006 3:14 pm

smrq wrote:I would, however, argue that nothing prevents games from achieving that status

I agree entirely. I am very much a believer that games have the potential to be art – less serious than high art, perhaps, but on a par with popular art. I am, however, doubtful as to whether this will ever actually happen. Perhaps they just need time, though. As is often pointed out, the gaming industry has been a lot more successful (commercially, at least) than the film industry was in a similar time span. I'm not sure whether that's a good or bad thing, though.

smrq wrote:Here I might make a bold claim that games have the potential to excel over film and literature in terms of emotional attachment; regardless of heartless bastards like Stuart, I would argue that playing as a character grants you more attachment to them and their fate than simply watching their actions.

This did actually strike me (not for the first time) whilst writing my post. It seems strange that a medium in which you actually represent and control characters should involve you less than one where things are pre-defined by someone who in all likelihood has never met you. Some of it can be chalked down to lack of talent and lack of experience, but I'm not sure if that's entirely exhaustive. It may be that, paradoxically, becoming the character somehow anonymises the lead role, making it less believable. Or perhaps it's because the more open-ended nature of computer games makes it harder to control the elements that manipulate our emotions. I suppose that doesn't really apply to what a lot of games do, which is to basically have a story and a game, and intersperse the two, most obviously with cutscenes. In this case the designers have more control over the important moments, but it distances these segments from the parts you're actually involved in, which could, I think, create something of an emotional barrier. There's also the matter of pace, which is very hard to combat without enforcing time limits or having the player on a rail or something similar.

In short, I don't think it's impossible, but I think that there's some way to go before properly coherent story-games are commonplace. I sometimes feel like the current landscape is kind of like having cinemas showing 90% action films and 10% sports footage. That's an oversimplification, and I don't mind playing them, but it could be more. At least I hope it could.

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