Why Videogames Are Better Than Comics

Posted by on March 29th, 2010 at 11:20 AM

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4 Responses to “Why Videogames Are Better Than Comics”

  1. Russ Maheras says:

    For me at least, videogames have yet to capture some of the emotional investment I get from a well-told comic book story or film.

    I’ve gone all the way through about a dozen games to date, and although they are usually very exciting and exhilarating to play, I rarely feel any emotional attachment to the characters. With films and comics, however, I frequently feel that attachment and frequently develop a fondness for a character.

    In short, no video game has made me sad (much); made me laugh (much); made me cry (at all); or made me empathize (much) with any of the characters.

    For example, when a character in a video game dies, it’s almost like, “So what?” After all, most of the time, by that time in a given game, I’ve already died a hundred times myself.

    I’m not saying that video games won’t one day tap into those emotions as do comics and films — it’s just that they aren’t very successful at doing that at the present time.

  2. Ng Suat Tong says:

    I think you’re absolutely correct as to the low emotional involvement in video games. Storywise, video games are sort of where mainstream comics were in the 70s.

    However, I’ve definitely read comments by younger(?) individuals who have felt some emotional connection to game characters and their fates. Aeris’ death in Final Fantasy 7 being the most well know example. Similarly, nothing in Claremont/Byrne X-Men, Lee/Kirby FF or Spiderman (not even the death of Gwen Stacy) moved me much at all (definitely not to tears) but I’ve read a number of comments to that effect.

    Apart from simple thrills, I think video games can be quite effective at communicating the sensation of fear (in games like Bioshock and Dead Space for example).

  3. Simon_Jones says:

    >low emotional involvement in video games

    Now that most games have some narrative structure, it’s really hard to nail down just how a game should be properly judged for emotional impact. A really poor-playing game may have a wonderful storyline. A game may have a horrid story, but have very good cinematic sequences strewn throughout. Some games have no narratives whatsoever, yet contain memorable gameplay segments. I don’t think it’s productive to judge games against comics or film… no other medium has the burden of juggling gameplay and narrative and making them coalesce.

    Anyway, two games worth checking out…

    Silent Hill 2 (PS2/XBox) – Having lost someone dear to me at around the same time, the plot of this game (which deals with psychological torture man imposes upon himself) resonated with me in ways few other works of art have. This game is categorized as survival horror, but it feels more like self-mutilation during play. In no other game have I ever felt such genuine moments of desperation. desolation, and guilt. By the end, you felt nothing but pure hatred and disgust at your own character. That’s quite an accomplishment for a game.

    Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 1 and 2 (PC/XBox 360/PS3) – People either love or hate the plot in these games, which loosely connect the missions together. But each game has a couple moments that inspire intense emotion, combining imagery and music in truly moving ways. From walking out of a bunker to a grand view of a bombed-out Capitol, to witnessing the aftermath of a nuclear explosion through the eyes of soldier breathing his last, this series comes closest to providing a real cinematic interactive experience.

  4. Ng Suat Tong says:

    Silent Hill is certainly tense as far as gameplay is concerned but that has more to do with the environments (visual and auditory) and some of the tropes of survival horror gameplay (underpowered protagonist with poor weapons etc.).

    I remember the moment you’re talking about from Modern Warfare 1 (helicopter escape post bomb cutscene?). I suppose you can get a similar effect from playing the new version of Fallout. It’s effective but I think Russ is talking about something deeper in its effect on the psyche – something like what you mention in relation to Silent Hill 2.

    I’m with Russ in the sense that no video game (as yet) has moved me to the extent as some books, movies, music or even comics.