Wednesday, May 7, 2008


Well, I don't really have much more to say about emotions in gaming, but criteria requires I create 2 blog posts a week about lecture material, which was rather short the week before. So for this post, and keeping the 'emotional' aspect of games in check, I have decided to talk about a scene in a game I have recently played that is both disturbing and even frightening from an realistic standpoint.

I wasn't that moved by the game, to be quite honest. The game, Call of Duty 4, while being a decent singleplayer shooter, was much of the same old thing in terms of solo play and AI assitance. There were some very tense scenes, particularly when you are caught under heavy fire or sneaking past an armed patrol in full camouflage that were very engaging, as well as some graphic depictions of executions and mass burials around certain parts of the world. It is by no means a bad game, it is in fact an excellent military shooter, both technologically accurate and believable, however at the end of the day its just not my cup of tea.

With the review out of the way, I would like to point out a section of the game that I found rather shocking, especially from a games design perspective. I am not going to care to much about giving the details and story away as I need to justify my position. In the mission "Shock and Awe" you become part of a massive assault into enemy territory to silence the terrorist mastermind and his supporting forces. You are not directly involved in the main objective of the mission, but rather a support force clearing the ground of anti-aircraft and rescuing random soldiers/pilots in distress. During the mission, constant radio messages of a radioactive device being present in the city are heard, arousing suspicion and the possibility of something going horribly wrong.

Below: CoD4 - Obviously someone was trying to rocket jump

Without beating around the bush, you as a player, well.... die. In a nuclear blast (well the outer rims of one). Your helicopter crashes, blacking out, only to awake later to the scene of a nuclear holocaust (radiation, debris) which has you crawling on the ground in a futile attempt to save yourself. The scene is very well done, but it was simply something I had never experienced before. Although you are not very attached to the character 'Jackson' that you play, the fact that you died, and it was an intentional game design decision, is very unique.

You also play an SAS member, so the game doesn't end there if that's what you were thinking.

Anyways, from a games design perspective this opens many new doors. Death in a game can be something designed intentionally without the player's intervention, making narrative exploration more interesting. The death of a character could allow you to play other characters in the same situation, or even the opposing faction. It doesn't need to tie loose ends, as you as a player didn't do anything wrong. You just died, and it's part of the game. You don't respawn, nor do you have another attempt. It happens, and life (of the game) will go on.

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