This is one of the things I've wanted to talk about since I first started here. The real challenging thing here is how to talk about it in a unique and interesting way. I'm going to blow through the obvious to get everyone on page as soon as possible. I define presentation as anything that makes a game unique outside of game play. I mean absolutely everything, the story, the art style, the graphics, the characters, the music, everything. We all know why presentation is important, more important for some than others, but why talk about it? Well you see, aside from console fanboys, presentation is probably the biggest reason why so much hate is spewed out at otherwise good video games. I've said this before in the past;
"There is only so much and I can personally stand conceptually and those types of games happen to sit far outside of what I consider visually and tonally appealing. How a game is presented affects my opinion of it greatly as I tend to look at games as an experience. A great presentation (Artistic style, soundtrack, characters, story, and world design) can turn an average game into great for me, a great game into Software Jesus, and a bad or unappealing presentation can make a great game average or even worse.
I mean game play snobs can cluck their tongues all they want, but before you can play a game, you have to see it. And I think everyone has a limit to what they can tolerate from a game conceptually. I mean if there was a game where you played as a serial rapist with a chainsaw dick, who fights against evil baby eating women, would you really want to play that even if it was a fantastic game? I'm not faulting you if you would, but everyone has a limit somewhere."
Aside from the fanboys, what is the biggest complaint you hear about popular games like Halos or Gears of War? I mean they're both popular games, and both are very well done shooters, but what to people really hate about them? The presentation. These games are absolutely saturated with faux machismo done absolutely straight faced and isn't called out on. Just look at the gears of war guys. Seriously, just look at them.
They're about these perfect awesome guys who go around shooting aliens acting tough and going out of their way to try to look as badass as they can. When you get right down to it, these characters are wish fulfillment for what apparently a lot of teenage, and twenty year olds think is cool and want to be, through and through. Kratos operates on the same rules but he's more two dimensional than one dimensional.
But is this a bad thing? Video games are supposed to be fun, enjoyable rides that take players through fun adventures, what's wrong with a little wish fulfillment? Not every character needs to have a huge fatal flaw right? No one wants to play that. Well, not actually. Let's look at another male protagonist who kills a lot of people;
This is Travis Touchdown. Manly, isn't really something you can call him. Oh sure, he talks just as tough, kills a metric shit ton of people and thinks he's all that, but when you get down to it, he's a 27 year old otaku who watches wrestling, gets strung along by women, lives in poverty, addicted to video games, and is delusional about his self worth regardless of the above. Oh, and he's probably a virgin (Well, was). Sure he can kick ass, but when you come right down to it he's still a stain of a human being. It's true that there isn't that big of a difference between what Kratos, Master Chief, Marcus, and Travis do, but it's the juxtaposition of Travis's strength vs. his flaws that makes him much more likable for me. The game doesn't just show Travis doing cool things and acting tough and say "He's perfect, you must like him" like God of War, and Gears of War, and the other games in this style that I'm critiquing. See, a flawed character in a video game can be just as fun to play as one of the wish fulfillment characters. In fact, most of the fun in the two No More Heroes games comes from Travis interacting with the boss battles.
And we haven't even talked about narrative genres and settings yet. I don't think I need to touch on this quite as much, because it's fairly obvious just how polarizing it is. There is a reason why so many people have written off the Nintendo consoles as "kiddy consoles". Lighthearted games don't appeal to many gamers because they lie to far outside of what they find visually and tonally appealing, just like I dislike a lot of the games starring the wish fulfillment characters I mentioned above.
But are the players missing out on something they might really enjoy because of their narrow-mindedness? Maybe and maybe not. See, games, while entertainment, are an experience. If a person can't get past a lighthearted game with cute characters, or one with a more anime flare, or one about space marines, then it's probably best for them not to play the game. These things are subjective, just like how subjective the different game play genres are. Being able to ignore a presentation you dislike doesn't make you more of a true gamer either, because the way you personally find enjoyment in a game is subjective.
What do I want you to take from this? Two things; I hope for readers to take an introspective look on just how much their care about the art style, graphics, story, characters, and characters is for everyone. Everyone can play a game and see if they like it, but can you look back and think about why it appealed to you so much? I also hope to help give us a look at just how far we've come in gaming. Up above I already mentioned sever characters that do the same essential thing, kill people. But in that, just look at how many different, unique, interesting and likable ways each of those different characters are. Think about all the ones I haven't even mentioned. We've gone from barely recognizable shapes to having all these different stories, worlds, characters and settings unfold in front of us. The gaming world is filled with a huge amount of variety, even from things that might seem very similar on the outside.
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