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Default Obsidian Entertainment - Blog Updates @ Official Site

March 6th, 2007, 11:57
Originally Posted by Ionstormsucks View Post
You cannot talk about something without naming it.
We'll have to agree to disagree on that point. Allegory has been effectively used in works such as Orwell's 1984, Kafka's The Castle, Pratchett's Discworld series and countless others. Fictional worlds are also an excellent vehicle for satire, provided the reader/player has the requisite knowledge and mental capacity to understand the author's intended meaning. It's not the setting, but the skill of the writer that determines the profundity of the message.
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March 6th, 2007, 13:53
Originally Posted by Geist View Post
We'll have to agree to disagree on that point. Allegory has been effectively used in works such as Orwell's 1984, Kafka's The Castle, Pratchett's Discworld series and countless others. Fictional worlds are also an excellent vehicle for satire, provided the reader/player has the requisite knowledge and mental capacity to understand the author's intended meaning. It's not the setting, but the skill of the writer that determines the profundity of the message.
But all these named titels do not deal with political, social or religious topics in depth. Take Orwell's 1984 for example. I think it is safe to say that the novel features some kind of police staate that observes, and wants to controll its citizens. But what the novell does is, it gives us a moral statement, but not an objective representation of given realities. One could say that the message of the book is "Police staates are wrong," and "Watch out, dear reader, in what direction the state is developing that you're living in!" It gives us a moral judgement, which isn't a bad thing, but it is also highly superficial.
In reality, things are much more complex. Some topics are less controversial than others - I guess most people would agree that police states, wars, slavery, etc. are bad things - but even here things are getting more difficult, and complex as soon as you leave that very abstract level. Is war really ALWAYS bad? In how far should a state be allowed to observe its citizens in times of high crime, and terrorism? I don't even want to venture into the field of Religion, because it becomes even much more difficult here.
Novels like 1984 are certainly necessary, but their allegoric (and fictional) level usually brings with it a simplification of things that reduces complex themes to a level that allows moral judgement. You also mentioned the genre of satire. It's the same… it's even more obvious here that satire has at its backbone the intention of criticism, but not of objective representation.

I'm not saying all that is wrong, but I'm saying it is nothing new. If Sawyer were talking about all that, then he would ask for something that is already very much happening. There are quite a few games that feature such problems, but they are also doing it on that very reduced level. I'd say that the tendency to simplify is even stronger here, since games (due to their interactivity) are always slaves to gameplay. That is why "Medal of Honor" is certainly not a treatment of the WW II conflict that can be taken seriously.
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March 6th, 2007, 17:19
Allegories have also been used in the old sci fi movies from the 1950's where it was as clear as day who the (real) aliens were. (hint: it starts with the letter C ).

If you read some (or all) of Ursula K. Le Guin's books, you will see that in their hearts they are allegories, too. In one book she explores the possibilities of a man who has the oppurtunity to dream up the perfect society —- and when he does so, it turns out quite differently from what he believed it would do. In other books, she is exploring planets where there have not been wars in a really, really long time, and in yet books, she is exploring the dream society of the feminist movement in
the 1970's.

These books are not set in today's world, they are set in strange fictional worlds, much like the Harry Potter books, and yet different from them, since the HP books
has porthole to our world. Yet, is clear that both racism and slavery are dealt with in the HP books. And not in a very favourable way, I might add.

Star Wars, too me, is also very political: The heroes fight for the Republic, and the
villains fight for the Empire. And in one spectacular scene, young Anakin is saying:
"If you're not with me, then you're a my enemy". Doesn't that sound strikingly similar to something we've heard before ??

Baldur's Gate 1 dealt with who was responsible for the bad iron ore throughout the
Sword Cost, and you, as the player, along with protagonist+ team in the game, end up undwinding a very deep (buried) political plot of treasury, corruption and power abuse in the course (or route) of the story's narrative. (An allegory of big
corporations' abuse or peddling bad products to its customers in modern day life ?? )

If we go back to former times, the man who wrote about Gulliver's Travel did so to disguise his critique of the English monarchy and the nobility at that time. The same goes for the man who write Alice in Wonderful. The Queen in Alice in Wonderland is a sort satirical portrait of a certain queen — cough —- Victoria —- cough in England.

And yes, today most people would argue that slavery is bad thing, but travel back to the ancient world of Rome and Greek splendor and they would tell you that slavery is normal, and accepted throughout the ancient world.

And as for wars:
Well, if we look at WWII my take on that is that someone had to stop a certain
German dictator. Unfortunately, only a full scale war could stop him.

The point is that in games, you need to create a fictional world, in which the player as the character, in that game, has the freedom to do what he wants or needs to do to stay in character, doing what is or her chosen character do best. And when this means that a certain member of the DB in Morrowind or in Oblivion is for slavery, well then the player needs to play as that character, regardless of
what the player's own feelings towards slavery (or murder) might be.

An actor needs to do the same thing, portray a character, be it a murderer or a person supporting slavery, in such a way that the audience can rely (somehow)
to the reasons behind the person (in the play) supporting slavery or display reasons behind murdering someone. (not that I would personally recommend either slavery nor murder). This is the real reason behind great actors like
Jack Nickolson and Robert De Niro — they do not give the audience a shallow performance of a void vessel, but they are able to fill this vessel with a backgorund for the characters they play.

And a game's story, or narrative structure, should really be able to do this as well.
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