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In loving memory: PAX 2009 (thanks ZombiePlatypus! And WalkYourPath, of course)


I'm Kauza, which is pronounced like cause-uh. My real name's Andrew Kauz, if you'd rather go for that.

I like talking to Dtoid people, so please add me on your favorite social networking site:
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Gchat: santakauz[at]gmail.com.

Basics: I'm 25, and I write things.

Eternal thanks go out to Y0j1mb0 for the amazing header image you see above. So, thanks, sir!

Look at some of the things I've written.

Things on the Front Page:

Mass Effect, Metal Gear, Moon Unit, and more: An interview with Jennifer Hale
The Future: Demanding more from the voices of videogames
Love/Hate: A plea to play as a female Shepard
A warning: Regrets from a former life and experiences yet unlived
Top ten games for people who hate Thanksgiving
The wrong thing: Being evil should be more like sex
Staying dry in a sea of spoilers is a matter of building a boat
Lessons on taking games just seriously enough
Come, take your pilgrimage to gaming's one true mecca
Here's to you, random-JRPG-dialogue-writer-man
The forgotten: Crushing disappointment at the hands of Crash 'n the Boys
The people who have the power to change the world
Improving game communities: Enough with the negativity
The draw of exploration: Antarctica to Oblivion, Shackleton to Shadow Complex
I suck at games: BlazBlue and a slapdash attempt at fisticuffs
I, the Author: My Everest
Untapped Potential: The Gamer's Education
Other Worlds than These: Our World, Only Different

A series sort of thing about status effects
Toxic Megacolon and other fresh status effects
Curse you, status effects, stop confusing my heart
Status effects are poisons that turn my silent heart to stone
Also check out the related forum thread.

The Fall of the Titans (wherein I talk about dead or dying gaming companies)

The fall of the titans part 3: What once was shall be again
The fall of the titans: Sega died so that we might dream of the future
The fall of the titans: Why do the giants of gaming die?

Stories from the Past (a series about my experiences playing certain games):

Stories from the Past: Tobal 2, Tomba! 2, and console double-vision
Stories from the Past: Diablo and the Dark Ride
Stories from the Past: What the f*ck, mom?
Stories from the Past: Xexyz and the battle aboard Turtlestar Lobsterica
Stories from the Past: The One-Balled Man-Bear
Stories from the Past: The Battle of Olympus
Stories from the Past: Suikoden 2

Storytelling (a series about, well, storytelling):

Storytelling: The Problem of Genres
Storytelling: Mass Effect, Vonnegut, and the Fourth Rule
Storytelling: Doing Nothing in "The Darkness"
Storytelling: The Power of a Single Line (Yeah, it was my first post.)

Other stuff that is good:

Lessons on taking games just seriously enough
A consuming power: The demon and the borderlands
Can games transcend good and evil?
Nothing is sacred: We won't let you go alone, but we have made a tragic decision
How Destructoid single-handedly changed my motherís opinion of gaming
Why Tecmo Super Bowl is the greatest sports game of all time
Seven reasons that I will end you in creative ways if you don't play Folklore
Mother Nature and the Impending Death of the Gaming Spirit
Times Games Forgot: The Dark Ages
The Sins and Successes of In-game Collectibles
The Lock is Broken
When Music Surpasses the Game
Truckasaurus Rex and the Humor of Games
I Want to Cry (storytelling related, but not part of the series)

I have others as well that you can check out on my blog. You'll enjoy them or your money back.

Since it seems like the cool thing to do, here a list of my favorite games that is coming straight out of my ass and onto your computer screen, and in no particular order.

Fallout 3
Uncharted 2
Suikoden 2
Mass Effect / ME2
Metal Gear Solid followed by any number you can think of
Tales of Somethingendinginia (OK, and the Abyss)
Crackdown
Battlefield: Bad Company
Flower
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Andrew Kauz
4:34 PM on 05.19.2009


Overused, but come on. Best crying picture ever.

Sorry to disappoint, but this isnít a NVGR blog about how some terrible harlot broke my heart again. Nothing of the sort has happened. So letís clarify that title right off the bat: I do not currently feel any desire to cry (Iím actually rather great today, thanks for asking!). Instead, I feel a strong desire to find things that can make me cry.

I want those things to be video games.

For the tough and manly, the Marcus Fenixes among us, such nonsense is simply unacceptable. And, yeah, I get that. You want to fill the giant metal boots of Master Chief just to see dudes to die in quick succession. No problem. Iím just asking for a little more.

It all comes down to eliciting an emotional response, whether it is happiness (which games, by default, should do), sympathy, anger (hopefully not at the game mechanics), etc. I chose to write this blog about crying simply because itís so rare for me, especially at the hands of a video game. So far, only Metal Gear Solid 4 has succeeded for me, and by the gods, that game turned me into a weeping mess. It was not pretty. Iím sure when I play the game for a third time, it will happen all over again. Iíll fight it, but I also wonít kid myself. Itíll get me good.

The reason that this is so important to me is that I believe that video games have perhaps the greatest potential of any entertainment medium to create the strongest emotional responses. We have longer experiences with the characters and interactivityóboth great assets in the generation of emotional responses. So why does it seem so difficult for developers to make their games connect emotionally with players?

Donít Tell Me What to Do


Yikes.

Iím sorry Dom, but I donít give a damn about your wife. It might be insensitive to say, but your sadness means nothing to me. Itís not your fault, though; it is the fault of your makers. See, those who created you and your now lifeless corpse of a wife gave me absolutely no reason to give half a shit about your fight to save her.

And thatís exactly the problem: just because Dom cares about her wife doesnít mean that the player does. Without some sort of compelling reason, weíre not going to shed a tear just because the game tells us to. Weíre smarter than that. You canít tell us to feel somethingóyou have to make us feel it.

Itís even worse when a character on-screen starts crying. Nope, sorry generic RPG girl, but your tears are only making me giggle. Yet itís the same sort of situation: weíre told by the characterís tears that he or she is sad, but what motivation do we have to feel that way? Weíre not just going to cry by associationócrying isnít contagious like yawning (but, hey, yawning is certainly something that scenes like this bring about.)

On a related note: Otaconís many cries in Metal Gear Solid 4 are the opposite of the right way to do emotion. Having a weeping, poorly acted mess of a character is not the way to make us feel emotional about a story, no matter if you think it fits into his personality. Unless your writing has the strength to make us do the same thing, (which Metal Gear Solid 4 does indeed do a couple of times), then weíre just going to laugh. At you, not with you.

Gimme One Reason

One reason, if it is compelling, is more than enough to make us connect emotionally to the story or characters. In some of my storytelling articles, Iíve mentioned moments that allowed me to do this. One of which was the Jenny couch scene in The Darkness. By giving me a moment that showed me (not told me) something worth fighting for, I had a reason to care.

Itís a matter of Show, Donít Tell. Itís the oldest rule in the book, yet (especially for a visual medium) itís something that video games tend to really miss the mark on. Of course, I donít think any more than 1% of the games in existence today set out to create any sort of emotional atmosphere in the game whatsoever. But for those that do, at least put some effort into it.

Despite the fact that crying isnít exactly an enjoyable experience, I think itís important that some games set out to inflict this sort of pain upon its players. Only one video game in my life has made me cry; I think nowís the perfect time for games to change that. Not every game needs to have emotional content (if playing ExciteBots makes me teary, somethingís truly wrong in the world), but Iíd like to see a few more of them try.


And, hey, if they fail, Iíll just ridicule them. Fun for everyone! Look at me mocking him!



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