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A self proclaimed professor of survival horror despite only having a BA (Hons) degree in film. Go figure.

Okay, maybe I should write more here but I once did an interview for Law's blog, which explains everything about me.

In the meantime, I'm just a guy who writes about videogame theory and how the medium can achieve better cinematic emulation (while keeping its own indentity). Though, if that's too boring, you can always find something delightfully fluffy in the following:

Gamer Obscura

Gregory Horror Show
Glass Rose
Michigan: Report From Hell
Hellnight
Steambot Chronicles
Chase The Express
The X Files FMV Game
SOS: The Final Escape & Raw Danger
G-Police & G-Police: Weapons of Justice
Koudelka
Friday The 13th: The Computer Game
Hard Edge
DENNIS HOPPER featuring Black Dahlia
Harvester
The Note
The Police Quest Collection
It Came From The Desert
Blade Runner
Men in Black: The Game
Famicom Detective Club Part II
Toonstruck
Ham-Ham Heartbreak

Unsung Heroes

Brad Garrison (Dead Rising)
Jenny Romano (The Darkness)
Cass (Fallout: New Vegas)

Hey, check out these inane ramblings:

The Vague History of UK Videogame TV shows

Part 1 (Bad Influence, Gamesmaster & Games World)
Part 2 (BITS & videoGaiden/consoleVania)
Part 3 (the worst and the future)

The Assimilation of Eastern & Western Horror in Videogames

Part 1 (The Eastern/Western Horror Assimilation)
Part 2 (Interaction and Narrative)
Part 3 (Case Study)

Random

Skip To The End: Max Payne 2
The Lost Idea of An Adventures of Pete & Pete Game
My Unpopular Opinion: I Liked Alone in The Dark 5
Hey BBC! Where's My Doctor Who Game?!
Loving Dr. Chakwas
The 'Fun Simulacrum' of Movie/TV License Games
Why Devs Don't Get The Colonial Marines From Aliens
It's Okay To Like B-Movie Games
Endings That Made Me Cry...Like A Man
Who Do You Trust?
Dancing With Myself
My Unpopular Opinion: Silent Hill 4 Deserved Better
Theme Hospital & The Embarrassing Operation of Old
When It Comes To Noir in Videogames, "It's Chinatown"
My Irreverent & Irrelevant Awards Show 2010
Amateur Bedroom Critics
Sydney Briar is Alive
The Big Gumbo
Alan Wake's Hallowiener Special
...And So I Watch You From Afar

Nostaljourney

Some poor sap let me onto their awesome podcast. These are the horrific results...

Deus Ex
Resident Evil 2
Duke Nukem 3D

Secret Moon Base

They sent me into space for this podcast. There were no survivors...

Fiddling Nightbear

Monthly Musings

I Suck At Games: Stretching My RPGs Out into A Year & A Half Ordeal

Improving Gaming Communities: We Need A Gaming Fonzie

The Future: Laughing At The Past

Something About Sex: It's A Conquest, Not A Catalyst

Alternate Reality: "My other car is a Trotmobile!"

Teh Bias: Starting At The Ground Floor

Groundhog Day: One DeSoto, Two Carefree Owners

Front Page

Nothing Is Sacred: 'It looks like the lock is broken. I can't open it.'

Love/Hate: Shark Jumping Videogame Writers

E for Effort: The Adventures of Mega & Master (A Cautionary Tale)

The Lament of Solitary Antagonistic Horror

2010 Sucked: Why Cing Will Be Unknowingly Missed

Technical Difficulties: Rainbow Six FUBAR

Cass from New Vegas

Honest Endings for Honest Hearts

Growing Old Disgracefully

Thanks for reading!
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Stevil
2:36 PM on 10.05.2010



If youíve seen the recent trailers for Atlusí forthcoming Catherine and think youíre a cultured person, then youíve probably picked on the similarities it shares with the existential works of Haruki Murkami. Itís hardly a stretch to make comparisons between the disconnected protagonist and his mundane world being invaded by a surrealist presence with a novel like The Wild Sheep Chase.

Oh, and the appearance of Ďsheep mení couldnít hurt that claim either.

Murakamiís influence has seemingly increased in Eastern videogames in the last decade. His literary worlds of urban quests, self-discovery investigations and distant observations all pop up as minor elements in videogames like Silent Hill 2 and Persona 4. Those different realities that are accessed through use of television or a simple hole can be pinpointed to After Dark, Dance Dance Dance and The Wind-up Bird Chronicle.

This is all theoretical on my part though. Researching any kind of influence the writer has had on videogames is hard to come by. Still, itís not hard to imagine that a famous writer can influence plot driven videogames.



Murakami is not the definitive article, but he is one of the few names is being name-checked, in the same way as Stephen King or Mark Z. Danielewski, when it comes to recent horror titles. Maybe, itís a sign that developers are realising that theyíre getting more out of emulating literature rather than cherry picking cinematic moments.

Then again, itís cynically tough to give them that kind of due credit.

In previous pieces, thereís always been a personal dissatisfaction with the way videogame developers completely misunderstand what theyíre reinterpreting. Though when those surprisingly concise narrative elements do shine through, is it because of cinematic emulation or literal influence?

With a movie, you participate as a passive voyeur. While you process and understand the narrative, you canít take a break from the motions. Itís the opposite kind of pace for literature. You are able to stop at a page, paragraph or line and take the time to understand the complexities. Itís impossible to randomly choose a scene, read it and visualise everything without the information it has been built from.

You, as an engaged reader, has to think to progress.



Yet, how often do we even notice these literal influences if weíre more concerned about a sceneís portrayal?

Bully had a superb story that played out like an extreme version of The Catcher in the Rye; with Jimmy Hopkins acting as a modern day Holden Caulfield. Even the developers couldnít help but put in an optional deerstalker hat for you to wear, in case you missed the references. Unfortunately, title controversy overshadowed plot allusions to the point, where the former is discussed more than the latter.

Silent Hill 4: The Room has one of the strongest plots in the series, one that uses Ryu (no relation) Murakamiís Coin Locker Babies as a basis, but is more remembered for a rushed second half. The plot was questioning the trappings of urbanites and what it is to give life to something as nihilistically inanimate as an apartment room. Well, if many preferred to complain about why thereís an increase in melee combat, thatís perfectly acceptable too. Youíre paying for enjoyable interaction, after all.

Sadly, it doesnít help highlight stronger narratives that can be examined and refined. In fact, very rarely do videogame sites discuss narrative beyond the mis-en-scene. Look at the recent news articles on Enslaved: Odyssey to the West.



Much talk is made of screen writer Alex Garland and sometimes about how a Hollywood writer is working on a videogame, thus helping the medium gain acceptance. Virtually nobody talks about how Enslaved is a re-imagining of Journey of the West (beyond the obligatory name-check) and how that translation of its universal ideas works out for a Western audience.

Is literature really not that important enough for page hits?

Does it just cement the stereotype that gamers donít like to read?

Considering the various responses to Destructoidís recent competition, this simply cannot be the case.

Sure, thereís the reference to it and the odd pop culture joke about Monkey Magic, but thereís very little in the discussion of interpretation. Make a search and youíll find its one line at best, probably because the writer doesnít knows little about the source material.

Not that anyone should be pretentiously admonished for a lack of culture.



If you have the time to think about it, your favourite videogames stories have probably been derived from literature. Personally, one of the best games of the year, Alan Wake, wore its heart (naively) on its sleeve; another potential sign of where developers have been trying out new avenues.

You canít turn a book into a game, but you can sit there, digest the ideas, before assimilating those elements into your own. The sarcastically shocking thing is, by taking the time to look at the parallels and seeing if they fit together, youíre already halfway to making a great videogame idea. It certainly worked for Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth and almost every Tom Clancy game known to man.

If celluloid learned the basics of narrative from the written word, then maybe thatís what videogames should be learning from too. Then again, it is easier and more profitable to rip-off that scene from that movie you saw once, you know, for no other reason than it looks good in HD.



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