I was just decompressing after watching the trailer for the new Prince of Persia, and had a few thoughts about game theory.
[By the way, just so you know — I still cite Sands of Time as one of the best video games I’ve ever played, so, you know, I’m probably biased.]
Nothing like practicable ideas, I should say. But perhaps some that will open routes of inquiry.
When I’m absorbing art, and that’s any kind of art, I’m looking for a feeling of beauty. I’m going to wax maudlin at you for a moment. The best kinds of art instill in me feelings like I get almost nowhere else. I’m in the middle of some kind of perfect storm of great stuff here, too — the new Decemberists song does this for me, as does a book I’m reading, Dhalgren (in between the frightening dystopia bits). I just started Silent Hill 2 in a bid to write a paper on the Gothic in video games (yes, you’ll likely hear more about that as the semester wears on).
What I’m getting at, and not very well, is that some video games have given me that same feeling. Prince of Persia did it, and so did Shadow of the Colossus. So I may try to write critiques, proper entries here, for those games, to try and get at what makes them what they are, rather than choose-your-own-adventure stories with prettier pictures. I know, somewhere inside me, that some video game stories couldn’t be told any other way, while others (much as I love it, Legend of Zelda springs to mind) could. They wouldn’t be as good, but they would still work. But writing up Shadow of the Colossus for a novel version would involve so much new writing it would be a different thing, whereas you could write up Wind Waker and the effect of the story on the audience would be unchanged. Not that I have a problem with that, I’m not asking every game to fuck me up like a new Lord of the Rings.
I feel like I have a way to tackle this problem through my genre and myth criticism ways, too. Certainly there are enough romantic elements in the games I’ve mentioned to get me started sometime.
[I should say that whenever I use the word "romantic" I mean it in the original sense, that of a story of medieval style romance. If you don't know what I'm talking about, think King Arthur. Those stories, especially those from the French tradition, were romances.]