Last night around 10 PM I beat the Last of Us. I don't have much more to add to my previous blog about the game and it's Narrative other than the ending sort of reminded me of Oldboy's ambigious ending. Now comparing The Last of Us to Oldboy opens up an entire new world of fucked up (If you've seen Oldboy you know what I mean if you haven't SEE IT it's one of the best movies ever made) But the the way it was presented and ambiguously ending did envoke Park Chan Wook's Cinematic masterpiece.
If there is one thing I took away from the Last of Us it's that Games can impact us the same way film can. It's been some 12 hours since I beat it and I'm still thinking about it. Something a Good Film or anime does. I remember earlier in the Year when i watched Fullmetal Alchemist brotherhood my reaction was similar I was thinking about the show long after it had ended for at least a week after. I'm sure I'll be thinking about the Last of Us for days maybe even weeks to come if the shows in my anime backlog don't amaze me in the same way. The Last of us is the first game I've really played that has all the elements of great film. There's a human story underneath all those murderous mushroom people.
If the Last of Us is Casablanca. Then Shenmue is Citizen Kane. Every modern film owes a bit to Citizen Kane it invented alot of the techniques still used in film today however as a story Citizen Kane falls flat and I never understood why it gets the acclaim it did. Shenmue is the same only we don't know how it's narrative would have panned out it's an unfinished story but in terms of gameplay and how it told that story you can see elements that many games still use today. Shenmue was not the first game to use QTEs but it was the first to implement them the way modern games now do. The semi openness of Shenmue most defiantly paved the way for what a few years later Grand Theft Auto III did. I don't think We'd have Assassin's Creed without Shenmue and I don't think the Last of Us would have been as powerful had there never been a Shenmue.
From a Gameplay standpoint you can see how influential Shenmue was, as Citizen Kane was to film. I'm not saying Shenmue is overrated Citizen Kane most defiantly is, but you can draw the comparisons in their influence despite their narrative flaws.
But games are unique they can be interactive moves that challenges your congition
and ability to stratagize, or they can just assault you with visuals. One of the most amazing moments in gaming to me is the final level of Rez. The Level of Beauty tenseness and crypticness is something I seldom find in games:
Rez has an understated story and it's not a game that takes an incredible amount of skill to complete but the sensory blast if gives you at the end is just a beauty few mediums can really bring. Games like Journey too where it's an understated narrative but a pure work of beauty and wonder. How can you look at these games as is and say games are not art? How about NIGHTS? Nights is short on narrative but playing it delivers a real sense of wonder and amazement.
Then of course there are games as a test of Skill, Fighting games, Puzzle Games and old school platformers. Games that may be thin on Narrative or sensory stimulation but they test your reflexes and reaction. They rely on player skill for a full experience the GAME part of video games. The Challenge of a Mega Man or a Ninja Gaiden. Beating an SNK Boss or getting as far as possible in Tetris. While they require you the player to actually do the work to progress the game (and sometimes there's a story there too) they envoke an art style all their own. Look at the rash of NES style Retrogames coming out now. You can't say that is not an artstyle. How about Chiptune bands? That's an art to have come out of games such as this.
Video games are unique in that they can bring you a variety of experiences. They can tell a story, challenge you to think and challenge you to react (Bioshock, The Last of US, Metal Gear solid). They can be as advanced as Chess (See:RPGs, RTS and fighting games) or they can be simple yet complex (Platformers and Puzzle games) No other media has more variety in experiences than video games. Of course like movies gaming does have it's mindless blockbusters that require no more than 3 braincells to enjoy
but that's a big part of art too, crap that appeals to the masses. Books and film have been doing that for decades, in the case of books centuries.)
When I want an opinion on a film Roger Ebert is the first person I look to his means of analyzing film was unmatched by most film critics. However once I started following him on Twitter my opinion of him as a person waned and ideologically we were very different people. But what strikes me is how he could see all the little things in films that we might miss and yet NOT view games as Art. Maybe it was a generational thing. Maybe he felt films were threatened by games. MAYBE based on negative press he felt games are just mindless schlock making kids violent. I don't know, the man was a great film critic. It is however fitting a game like the Last of US comes out after his death. A game so powerful, that yes, it does prove video games are art on the level of film. Since Roger is gone, we might never know if it would have changed his mind on games or not. Personally I doubt it. But with so many different games, so many undiscovered so many feelings and experiences and different means of expression. You'd either have to be a stubborn old fool, or a complete idiot to not see games as art.
Remember, Comic books and Film it self were once dismissed as mindless schlock.
Sorry Roger, Video Games was just one of many non film subjects you were wrong about.
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His all time favorite console is the Saturn. His Genres of choice or Shmups and Fighters. He HATES Nintendo.
His Holiness Pope the Rev The 28th. Is a gamer, Philosopher, Psychologist, Guilty Gear XX #Reload GOD and former cult You Tube Personality. Today he rambles on Destructoid. Forgive his spelling and Grammer, he doesn't have time to send everything he writes to his proof readers.