Video Games You're Playing



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Original post

Posted by , 07.10.2014 - 15:33
Shadow of Chernobyl is good. I've never finished it but it's enjoyable and moody. Probably better to think of it as more of a slightly open world FPS with RPG elements than a large open world RPG with FPS elements like Fallout.
27.09.2018 - 14:59
Ashe
Account deleted
I love the Persona games! Why anyone would give up on them is beyond me. Especially 5. It's now being considered as one of the best RPG's of all time.

I'm a minor modding girl so I like playing with older games and making them spectacular in my free time, as well as tweaking other mods to my liking. (Weapons, gore, player, and value improvements, etc) Everything from player sprites to shotgun spread. I mod the everloving s#$+ out of Doom things. <3 ( The GAME not the genre.
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27.09.2018 - 15:24
Mercurial
Written by Guest on 27.09.2018 at 14:59

I love the Persona games! Why anyone would give up on them is beyond me. Especially 5. It's now being considered as one of the best RPG's of all time.

I didn't want to, but after 85 hours with a very slow sense of progress and a lot of character repetition it becomes somewhat exhausting and the characters gradually end up feeling less life-like, especially when you complete their social links (which can be done quite early on with many of them). Repetition is probably the biggest killer in an RPG for me; it's a constant and ever increasing reminder that you're playing a video game, and not experiencing a new living world. I think the structure of Persona games is also a weak point at times. In other RPGs you have a sense of adventure through the exploration of different places, and a story which can play out in ways that you can't predict. While the way Persona games work can be good for exploring social links and such, the routine you're forced into can become a bit dull as you know exactly how the game's structure will work: School: discovery of antagonist: antagonist's dungeon; back to school again, and repeat. This happens many times over the game's 90+ hour journey, and only really shifts up after about 80 or so hours.

The other thing is that while the Persona games are fairly mature by JRPG standards, I don't think they get gritty and real enough to sustain a game of its length. There's really only so much you can do with characters in a story that will only explore social problems to a certain degree.

Persona 5 would have benefited from being a fair amount shorter I'd say. It could have told the exact same story with a better sense of urgency. I would agree it's probably one of the best JRPGs in recent years, but I would also say that the quality of JRPGs has plummeted a lot since their PS1 golden-era so I'd say it's easier to get that crown these days. The Persona games are still high quality, but some of the SMT games speak to me a lot more.
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27.09.2018 - 17:58
Zaph
The Nothingth
Played a bit of The Last Guardian. It looks cool, but I wish Team Ico could make a game with good controls.

Also played a bit of Pyre and if I had known it was gonna be that kind of game I wouldn't have bothered. Guess I deserve this after blindly buying the game because I liked Transistor and Bastion so much. I'll give it a chance though, maybe it will grow on me.
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And the tears that we will weep today
Will all be washed away
By the tears that we will weep again tomorrow
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29.09.2018 - 21:03
Ashe
Account deleted
Written by Mercurial on 27.09.2018 at 15:24

Written by Guest on 27.09.2018 at 14:59

I love the Persona games! Why anyone would give up on them is beyond me. Especially 5. It's now being considered as one of the best RPG's of all time.

I didn't want to, but after 85 hours with a very slow sense of progress and a lot of character repetition it becomes somewhat exhausting and the characters gradually end up feeling less life-like, especially when you complete their social links (which can be done quite early on with many of them). Repetition is probably the biggest killer in an RPG for me; it's a constant and ever increasing reminder that you're playing a video game, and not experiencing a new living world. I think the structure of Persona games is also a weak point at times. In other RPGs you have a sense of adventure through the exploration of different places, and a story which can play out in ways that you can't predict. While the way Persona games work can be good for exploring social links and such, the routine you're forced into can become a bit dull as you know exactly how the game's structure will work: School: discovery of antagonist: antagonist's dungeon; back to school again, and repeat. This happens many times over the game's 90+ hour journey, and only really shifts up after about 80 or so hours.

The other thing is that while the Persona games are fairly mature by JRPG standards, I don't think they get gritty and real enough to sustain a game of its length. There's really only so much you can do with characters in a story that will only explore social problems to a certain degree.

Persona 5 would have benefited from being a fair amount shorter I'd say. It could have told the exact same story with a better sense of urgency. I would agree it's probably one of the best JRPGs in recent years, but I would also say that the quality of JRPGs has plummeted a lot since their PS1 golden-era so I'd say it's easier to get that crown these days. The Persona games are still high quality, but some of the SMT games speak to me a lot more.


I have to disagree. Are you sure we're playing the same games? How many of the Persona games have you really played? I started with P2: Innocent Sin ( thanks to a friend in Japan ) and played every one since.

The Persona games have some of the deepest character development and one of the strongest and most provocative philosophical themes of anything I've ever touched in a console game.

Either you were highly distracted when playing, or you're not really interested in the message of these games and thinking about it.
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29.09.2018 - 22:01
IronAngel
Anyone who finds provocative philosophical themes in a video game needs to put down the controller and pick up a book instead, imho. That's not to say a cool theme isn't a nice bonus, but it's never going to compare to a decent essay, let alone an academic monograph, in terms of insight. The same goes for character development: if I really want to understand a person's pyschology, I'll read George Eliot, Proust, Joyce or some good (auto)biography. Or even good TV, like Mad Men or Heimat or whatever. A JRPG would be the last place to go.

The point is that vague appeal to deep themes seems pretty impotent against criticism that is actually specific and related to the medium of video games, like Mercurial's above. Based on these comments alone, of the two of you, I would be inclined to think that he has played and thought about the games more.
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29.09.2018 - 22:34
Mercurial
Written by Guest on 29.09.2018 at 21:03


I have to disagree. Are you sure we're playing the same games? How many of the Persona games have you really played? I started with P2: Innocent Sin ( thanks to a friend in Japan ) and played every one since.

The Persona games have some of the deepest character development and one of the strongest and most provocative philosophical themes of anything I've ever touched in a console game.

Either you were highly distracted when playing, or you're not really interested in the message of these games and thinking about it.

I don't think this is a case of agree / disagree. The fact is that the game did not sustain me through its duration. The characterisation is fine for its limitations, well written and engaging to a degree, but given its length I don't think it was expansive enough. Another thing is that I'm fairly old, I've played JRPGs since the very early 90s (and perhaps more importantly watched a fair amount of anime) , so I feel like I've experienced a fair amount it has to offer, and while Persona 5 is a good solid game it doesn't really expand much beyond the well written, fairly standard anime trope. I'm fairly sure I've played at least one of the early Persona games on the PS1, I acquired foreign games through an importer at an exorbitant price, though it's been decades since I've played them so I can't recall them too well. However given my age at the time I'm sure I found them far more engaging and new and I seem to recall that they were less social sim-like and less watered down in terms of the prevailing concepts, and closer to SMT games. I'd like to play them again but mechanically I think they're too dated now for me. Persona 3 and 4 also felt less trite in its thematic presentation and characters, but again, I can't stand the idea of trawling through the Tartarus etc. again. I don't think it's just me. Despite the positive reception of 5 I've seen a few comments here and there of people who thought it was a let down plot / character-wise.

I don't find any of the recent Persona games especially philosophical. I think SMT Nocturne did a far better job at existential subject matter. I'd rate Xenogears, Nier Automata and others above them as well. Persona 5 is far more invested in solving social / mental problems in somewhat clear cut and idealised fashion that leaves little required afterthought, because every character is magically cured within the game's time frame. There's nothing inherently wrong with this, it works in a fantasy video game setting, but perhaps you can understand where my issue of predictability comes from, and a desire for something a bit more mature. I enjoy a grey fantasy setting where not everything is wrapped up in a neat little package and pain, turmoil and crime is something that can be the victor. I can't take much away from a saccharine ending for every character, and I don't think you can truly tackle some of the themes in Persona with black and white mindsets. I'm far more willing to suspend my disbelief in super happy endings with more pure fantasy games, Final Fantasy games etc. I think fairy tale narratives shine with that setting, but I think Persona games could go a step further regarding maturity and realism.

You can be dismissive if you like, but I was paying attention, I just feel like I've experienced it before in other media without the laborious length, which is my primary criticism. A good game can be marred by overlong length in which character exploration and story are diminished, which is precisely my issue with the game. That being said I'm not calling it a bad game, when it's good it's good. I just don't think it's quite the be all and end all of RPGs you think it is. This is a game with a near-silent protagonist who can romance any of the female characters with virtually no negative fallout. That's about as lazy as can be when it comes to writing good characters and highlights the limitations of the writing, which for me is about the lack of nuance and unwillingness to allow for resolutions that aren't idealised, romanticised and ultimately unrealistic, even when tackling themes like rape, murder etc.
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30.09.2018 - 05:33
Zaph
The Nothingth
Written by IronAngel on 29.09.2018 at 22:01

Anyone who finds provocative philosophical themes in a video game needs to put down the controller and pick up a book instead, imho. That's not to say a cool theme isn't a nice bonus, but it's never going to compare to a decent essay, let alone an academic monograph, in terms of insight. The same goes for character development: if I really want to understand a person's pyschology, I'll read George Eliot, Proust, Joyce or some good (auto)biography. Or even good TV, like Mad Men or Heimat or whatever. A JRPG would be the last place to go.

So, finding provocative philosophical themes in a game is inferior to finding it in another medium?

While I haven't played any games that have made me reconsider my place in the universe (well, aside from Pong, obviously) I don't see why it can't be possible. I'm convinced something like that is out there, or if not, that it will be at some point.

Books and movies and such have been around much longer and have had far more time to "mature" so of course it will be easier to find deeper meaning there, but there is enough schlock available as well. Gaming is still in its infancy, comparably. Not to mention the medium is still constantly evolving or changing, whereas the way we experience books has changed very little over the last few hundred years.
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And the tears that we will weep today
Will all be washed away
By the tears that we will weep again tomorrow
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30.09.2018 - 10:18
Ashe
Account deleted
Wow, I really I need to find a place with people on my level. That is, well, entirely my fault. I apologize for joining here.
I originally joined because I wanted to find other musicians, but there's no one here anyway. Account deleted.

Enjoy your community. I'll happily go where I fit in a bit better and find people who it will be a mutual benefit all around to interact with..
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30.09.2018 - 10:31
IronAngel
Written by Zaph on 30.09.2018 at 05:33

So, finding provocative philosophical themes in a game is inferior to finding it in another medium?

While I haven't played any games that have made me reconsider my place in the universe (well, aside from Pong, obviously) I don't see why it can't be possible. I'm convinced something like that is out there, or if not, that it will be at some point.

Books and movies and such have been around much longer and have had far more time to "mature" so of course it will be easier to find deeper meaning there, but there is enough schlock available as well. Gaming is still in its infancy, comparably. Not to mention the medium is still constantly evolving or changing, whereas the way we experience books has changed very little over the last few hundred years.


Well, finding new philosophy in a game would be inferior in the sense that it's not there, and if you thought it was, it probably only showed you didn't have a good grasp on what's out there in writing. The point I'm making is not that games are inferior per se, or indeed that "deep thoughts" are better than shallow ones. It's that you should consider mediums and genres on their own merits.

I don't buy the maturation argument at all. How mature were philosophical dialogues as a genre when Plato wrote? Besides, experimentation and evolution in games has been (in keeping with cultural and technological change in general) so fast that it's already caught up the first few thousand years of literature (so to speak). Maybe we're still waiting for the great modernists of gaming, I dunno, but game development reflects the same cultural context as literature and cinema right now: free experimentation, splintered subcultures, no great consensus, a divide between the mainstream market and what the aficionados are consuming, etc.

The fact is, mediums have their strengths and weaknesses. Thought (at least in this stage of our species' evolution, cultural and biological) is closely married to language. Literature is the most effective medium for manipulating language and constructing arguments. Multisensory experiences like TV and video games (which have the added bonus of agency) are generally better at evoking somatic and (possibly) emotional responses. A game can give something like the issue of eco-catastrophe or free will a sense of urgency and emotional resonance, so I guess that's good for engaging people in issues. But it's never going to be as efficient or transparent as an essay in laying out the arguments, weighing the alternatives and coming to a reasoned conclusion. If anything, too personal and emotional an experience with an issue (if only through a game) may just distort your view because you've only considered one side of the issue and it was "the best game ever!"

Deliberate, exceptional experiments aside, I don't think this is ever going to change. It's not impossible to make a game with actual, new philosophical substance. I guess you could have an interactive Socratic dialogue or a courtroom drama about some hitherto-unsolved ethical problem. Maybe there's something like that out there, already. But it's not very likely and, more important, it's not really what games are about. I would not disvalue a game for its lack of "philosophical themes" any more than I'd scoff at a novel for not being interactive! (Even though Julio Cortázar's Hopscotch is a cool experiment with that, just like literary game would be an interesting novelty.)

Take NieR: Automata, lauded for its "deep themes": "What is the meaning of life? What makes a person? Can a machine be alive? Is there an eternal return?" These are not novel philosophical insights. The meaning of life is the topic of the earliest surviving documents of our species, and the rights and consciousness of machines have been explored at least since mid-1900s sci-fi. Longer, if you consider the debate on a mechanistic view of the human body.

The game brings these ideas alive in a cool, classy way that adds flavor and gravitas to the experience. I do think it's nice when games evoke a contemplative atmosphere. It is aesthetically pleasing. But that someone had never considered these questions before, and N:A opened new conceptual ground for them? "Whaaaaat, machines might be capable of emotion!!!??" That's what I mean when I suggest picking up a book. If it's the ideas you actually care about (and not just appealing to them to make your favorite game seem deep and better than the rest), you'll get much, much more out of books on the topic.

Ultimately, though, I'm not very invested in this issue. Mostly I was just irritated at Ashe's holier-than-thou dismissal of an opinion that was, in the end, much more thoroughly articulated than hers.
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30.09.2018 - 11:21
Zaph
The Nothingth
Written by IronAngel on 30.09.2018 at 10:31

Ultimately, though, I'm not very invested in this issue. Mostly I was just irritated at Ashe's holier-than-thou dismissal of an opinion that was, in the end, much more thoroughly articulated than hers.

Well, in that case I will try to keep this short. I just want to clarify a few things though.

One is that I wasn't necessarily talking about novel philosophical insights. I agree that finding grand new ideas presented in a game that haven't been touched upon anywhere else is highly unlikely, but I do think that, if an idea is presented well (and I'm not saying it has been before, I don't play nearly as many games as most people here) in a game it doesn't matter to the person that they gained this insight from a game or a book. Even if the game took it from a book.

As for the maturation thing, I meant gaming as a medium has had much less time to deliver something like this, and the focus of game developers isn't on doing that at all (which is fine by me, I agree that mediums are different and gaming doesn't lend itself easily to this kind of thing whereas writing obviously does. As you said, it's not what gaming is about.)

Quote:
It's not impossible to make a game with actual, new philosophical substance. I guess you could have an interactive Socratic dialogue or a courtroom drama about some hitherto-unsolved ethical problem. Maybe there's something like that out there, already. But it's not very likely and, more important, it's not really what games are about. I would not disvalue a game for its lack of "philosophical themes"

I definitely agree. The main thing I'm trying to say is that it isn't impossible, and while you think it's never goind to happen, I think it might. Sorry if I didn't do a great job at communicating that the first time, I actually wasn't really following the debate about Persona that closely, so I responded to your comment out of context.

Also, did she just delete her account because someone had a different experience with a video game than her?
----
And the tears that we will weep today
Will all be washed away
By the tears that we will weep again tomorrow
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30.09.2018 - 12:06
IronAngel
Written by Zaph on 30.09.2018 at 11:21

I agree that finding grand new ideas presented in a game that haven't been touched upon anywhere else is highly unlikely, but I do think that, if an idea is presented well (and I'm not saying it has been before, I don't play nearly as many games as most people here) in a game it doesn't matter to the person that they gained this insight from a game or a book. Even if the game took it from a book.


I agree with the gist of it and I was too sharp in my initial response. But I do think there is a difference here: I'm not just saying that novelty is the primary issue. (Although I do think it's good that an experience offer some new perspective to you.) You say it doesn't matter where the insight came from, but I would argue that you're not going to get the same level of specificity and clarity of argument from a game that you would from an essay or book on the topic. It's not just that books are better for this because they're books, or because they did it first, but because they can treat the topic more explicitly, more transparently, and more efficiently.

I don't think this really matters, in the sense that obviously we enjoy profound video game experiences anyway. But I do think that vague appeal to "deep themes" is a poor substitute for substantial video-game-related criticism. While you're talking hypotheticals, and I agree with you, in practice gamers are usually awed by anything that raises a remotely "profound" question and comes to some banal, predictable conclusion that affirms the players' emotional attitudes anyway. It irks me, because it just shows they're willing to lap up any basic question as profoundly philosophical, no matter how well the answer holds up to scrutiny.

I'm not shittalking ambitious themes in games, either. I do love Planescape: Torment, and I think it's a good mindbender of a spe-fi story. It's an imaginative acting-out of ideas in vivid, fantastical detail (largely thanks to the awesome tabletop setting). It's really cool that you have competing ideological factions like the Sensates. All that makes the game enjoyable. But really, philosophical insight? That someone never considered the possibility of appreciating sense-experience above all else, or wondered whether human nature is set in stone? I grant that someone may have gleaned something useful from it, but in that case I think they'd do well to educate themselves a little and read a few text books.

I guess I'm a bit stuffy, but I really think it's bad if people just play video games and think they can compensate for not reading an actual book. Okay, if your'e 13 and Persona makes you consider the importance of your social life, that's great. If you're 30 (which I'm almost, which may account for grumpiness) and you're still getting your mind blown by games, something probably went wrong with your education.
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