March 16, 2006

Nugget of Wisdom...

Once and awhile a Nugget of Wisdom hits you upside the head changing thoughts, ideas, and views forever. Sharing these Nuggets of Wisdom can be just as enjoyable as receiving them so let me know what you think of this one.

"Movies are really good at story and use action to fill in the gaps while games are really good at action and use story to fill in the gaps"

This Nugget of Wisdom came courtesy of a conversation with a good friend whom I had not heard from in a quite sometime. He was interested in playing some video games since its cold where he lives right now. We talked and talked about many games and in the end he seemed bored before playing anything, he was saying things like "that seems way too long!" and "is that really entertaining?". The only games that he seemed interested in were games that seemed like big budget action movies, which brought him to say "what's short with a lot of action?", now we were getting somewhere. All of a sudden the Nugget of Wisdom slams into me as he says "playing the action will be awesome because it is usually the filler part of a movie". Who was this guy? Why did he say that? I thought about it and realized, movies are really good at story and use action to fill in the gaps while games are really good at action and use story to fill in the gaps. I think I might have known this on some kind of subconscious level but it definitely sank in after our conversation.

After coming to this realization, I researched this idea on the net and found quite a few resources detailing this concept. There was one in particular that caught my interest by a blogger named "Kung Fu Monkey"; I mean come on the guy had me at hello with that name. Anyhow, he wrote this awesome blog entry, Writing: Action Scenes, which might seem trivial to the more enlightened but I found it to be eye opening for someone that has difficulty with story writing. Give it a read because I am much better equipped to design an action sequence for a game after reading his blog entry.

Kung Fu Monkey's Nugget of Wisdom!
"Don't write action scenes.
Write suspense scenes that require action to resolve."

Simply remove the word "write" and replace it with "design" and video games might begin to combine emotional participation and physical participation equally. Who knows what kind of unique experience that marriage could create but I bet Hollywood will be a little more jealous of its growing little brother if it happens. And no matter how you slice it two degrees of participation is better than one so let’s hope video games develop this inherit advantage responsibly to grow out from under the shadows of other entertainment industries.

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