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Ever play Stalker? You should try it out...

I rage about review scores... Just kidding...
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I can name three AAA titles right now that have at least one scene of disturbing kissing. It's not so much the general act, it's more so that characters in games, when they meet lips, look like alien creatures! Heavy Rain, Mass Effect 2, and even Uncharted 2 all have at least one scene of kissing, and despite it being optional in two of them, it's still disturbing as all hell.

Imagine my surprise when Ethan Mars' wife (Heavy Rain) arrives home with groceries, bitches at you for a bit, then an option appears to give her a kiss; the surprise comes from the fact that the lips touch maybe once, yet they're practically making out. Ignoring the fact that their mouths look like mutated orifices for an underwater sludge monster, the fact that lips refuse to meet is just disturbing when they're kissing. I realize the moment shouldn't lose it's value because of technical issues, but Jesus H. Christ, I cannot suspend my disbelief that far.

I can still hold on to that suspending rope of disbelief as Nathan Drake is preparing to shag Chloe, because it's not even remotely grotesque in comparison, but it still very closely nears the uncanny valley. That's a problem I think people are going to have to deal with. Given the fact that Quantic Dream, Naughty Dog, and Bioware are all quite prestigious developers, I'd gamble that lip smacking just isn't going to be captured very accurately anytime soon. Hell, even sex doesn't look as horrid in games.

Speaking of sex, it doesn't look good either. It doesn't look equally as terrifying, but it lacks the smoothness we receive from film and real life. Zooming in to show me the wonders of up-close smudgy textures, and allowing me to watch a guy and gal roll around like they're a couple of fighting children means you've solidified yourself some backlash. This is all a bit overblown, because the sexual aspect to most games is quite minimal, and can, arguably be a part of the emotional connection for the characters, or some smarmy shit like that; it's still goddamn ugly! You can put a bag over a girls face, but if she's fat, what the fuck do you do then?

I reckon one could just eliminate these puke-inducing scenes... "What blasphemy! They're emotional and meaningful!" Some may cry. Well cry some more, because your imagination can ride with the idea, instead of showing us one of the most off-putting things a videogame can present. It's very obvious why sex is present in gaming, most of the time, anyhow. Publishers think that sex in games will provide sales... Ugly sex will bring in the bank...

In many cases it's tasteful, and I appreciate that. If sex remains a part of videogames, so be it, I won't scream bullshit from the top of many buildings, but in it's current state, something needs to evolve. When you see Shia Labouf and Megan Fox kiss, it's real life, so at least their goddamn skin touches, and it looks okay, even though you want the both of them deader than the movie in which they star.

When something comes so close to realism, but isn't quite there, it can very easily become hideous; Heavy Rain meets that point quite often, and so do many other games when they strive for realism. If you have a blank stick-man, you can project your own emotion onto him; if you have a real human, you can accurately have their emotions given to you. With a game, it kind of meets this middle point, especially when it cums to bumpin' uglies, where it's shit. When games meet this point, you can't project your feelings, or have feelings handed to you, because you're too busy cocking the hammer of a damn .45 and shoving the barrel so far down your throat that vomit nearly explodes before you hit the trigger.







CodenameV
9:54 PM on 01.26.2010



I sit calmly, as I do every morning, sipping my milk and chewing on some oh so delicious cereal. Later that day, I realize I'm all out of milk and cereal; what a bitch. Because I'm desperate, I head on down to my local grocery store. Inside I grab some milk, some cereal, and maybe a tub of ice cream or something for good measure. Approaching the clerk, I realize I don't have my wallet with me; it's out in the car.

But wait, here's an idea: I could go out to my car and grab my wallet, come back inside, and pay. Or I could head down to the kitchen utensil's aisle, grab a cleaver, head back up front, slit the throat of the cashier and leave with a free meal, plus dessert. Quite the black and white decision.

In another event, perhaps I'm driving and a kid jumps out in front of my car. I could hit the kid, killing him, but keeping me in my lane, or I could swerve into the other lane, causing a wreck, killing more souls than just one. Now, imagine this situation, but time pauses. Then, words in a red-colored font pop up saying "swerve," with words in bright blue saying "hit the kid." Kind of loses any sense of right and wrong when those two things are being dictated to you by something that thinks it knows the answer.

In games it appears we've not evolved past this issue of morality. We're trying to use it as a gimmick, as a selling point. Not many games have taken the idea of morality and made it into something truly reminiscent of choices in everyday life. In the majority of games, you can be an asshole, a decent guy, or a saint. Make your choice.

Inherently, interactivity allows for much more varied exploration in this area. We're not restricted to black and white decisions, though you would never know that at a glance of the industry thus far. It's almost too pretentious to tack on the 'right and wrong' choices that many games flaunt. This whole thing might not be so painful if, for one second, games could just simplify what they're trying to do a bit.

inFAMOUS sports an incredibly black and white morality system, hardly a soul could deny that. But I'd argue that the choices you must make could be far more impressing upon the player if there wasn't that blue and red text stating which action is justifiably holy, and which one the devil himself would choose. Mass Effect falls victim to nearly the same idea.

On the horizon, we can only hope for a brighter tomorrow; morality can evolve. It can be something that is subtle, that you won't acknowledge till you feel for the actions you're making. Games won't need to pause and allow you to read the "good" and "bad" text. When you see that kid in the middle of the road, the game needs not to tell you it's a choice that will affect your morality, you'll simply either plow on through the poor child, or swerve.

There still remains a delicate balancing act to this all. With Bioshock, you're not told explicitly which action is right and which is wrong. However, inherently in the choice of slaughtering a child or saving one, there is a problem. The decision you make in that situation is such that you know which choice is the "wrong" one. There's just something too predictable about a game that pauses to allow a decision like that. If it's not obvious, subtlety works nicely for morality.

I want to wonder, when I run over the kid, if I did the right thing. I want to wonder if killing a man is justified in a certain situation. These things should affect the player on an emotional level, and so far, most games have fallen utterly flat. It's a shame, but one that I feel will not go without experimentation. There is no doubt in my mind that morality will soon evolve, and perhaps not into the ideal form I'm describing, but a game will come along that paves the way for others to tread.