EMOTIONS, they cry, POLYGONS, they cry
David Cage, in his ongoing battle to collectively confuse the gaming industry of the definitions between the words “emotion” and “expression” has done it again. Not only by showing off what the creepy old man head was all about (spoiler, it’s Quantic Dream’s favorite thing: semi-interesting tech demos that are not entirely that impressive), but by revealing Beyond: Two Souls’ spoiler before the game is even released. That’s right, in keeping with tradition, Quantic Dream’s PlayStation exclusive, Beyond, will feature a forced, uninspired twist that the audience was all but specifically told was not going to be the case. The game is not actually going to be an interesting story about Willem DaFoe and Ellen Page, but instead be a brown, military, 3rd person shooter set in the Middle East. Let me tell you, this has sparked in me some emotions!
Okay, so maybe I’m being a little harsh, and the trailer was more or less the same amount of footage shown in the first trailer released, but this wouldn’t be the first game to undergo an overhaul to appeal to a more vapid sensibility of what will generate sales. It’s entirely possible that this is merely going to be the tutorial level of the game, and the rest will be an interesting experience full of Ellen Page and that guy what wants to get the Spiderman. But let me tell you a little something about myself; I am a very jaded individual who’s seen one too many games go down the crapper because they were retooled to appeal to a broader audience. But don’t get me wrong, sometimes this can be a bit of a good thing, take DmC, for example; despite some rather scathing reviews from die-hard fans, the game was well done, and excellent on its own. Hell, I even enjoy the modern interpretation of Resident Evil, that is, as an action series.
I don’t think I can point to one issue that makes me roll my eyes and say another one bites the dust. Or perhaps I can. The game industry, for the more recent years, has been focusing too much on buzzwords, trying to find the right buzzword that will drive up sales and investing all time and resources into their interpretation of that buzzword. The current one is ’emotion’, trying to invoke an emotional response from gamers through tech specs, hardware, and downright trickery. This is not how you accomplish emotionally charged moments, humans can’t just be told that something is emotional and be expected to burst into tears. No. Listen to me, developers, if you want to invoke emotion from players, make them care about your characters, don’t tell us we’re supposed to care. Make us invest our time and effort into wanting to keep the character alive, then, when that character meets their untimely end, or loses their child, then we will feel emotion. Not because we had 5 minutes of awkward QTEs with them.