One of the great questions since the mass incorporation of the internet is the role in which mass media entertainment plays. Are the entertainment industries growing in meaningful ways and if so, are the mediums growing with its community’s ethics, current events, and willingness to take advantage of any given mediums uniqueness?
Take the video game industry, for example. Its medium’s uniqueness relies on interactivity. This can give the player unique perspectives and experiences of which no other form of entertainment can achieve.
Cue Yahtzee Croshaw‘s take on Spec Ops: The Line; a game so meta, its subtle message of the ridiculous narrative many action games exhibit was lost on users who didn’t play beyond the opening scene. Overly exaggerated violence contrasted with real worlds consequences and a subtext aimed at the character gave the game teeth when compared to other juggernaut Military First-Person-Shooters such as Call of Duty and Battlefront.
But, just as importantly, critics main praise of the game was it’s subtext driven, philosophically challenging narrative. Whereas modern shooters exist to empower players without a conscious choice of the actions they exhibit in the game (“Who are these people I’m shooting? Why am I shooting them?”)
“The Spec Ops shocking moment, contrarily, is designed to make you hate yourself, and fear the things that you are capable of,” writes Croshaw. “But what makes it so effective is that you, the player, are accessory to it, and the game takes the sense of fun you might have had from doing it and shoves it down your slackened gob. It’s a great illustration of how interactivity can enhance the feelings created by a story.”
These points highlight the agency of which the player can have over a player-character. It can allow the player to truly walk in someone’s shoes in a way that is still rapidly growing and maturing. It handles a wide range of subject matter that has scarcely been maturely brushed upon.