There are so many ways for me to take this topic I’m surprised I didn’t try it earlier. Forgive me for continuing so fast but I need to get this out of my mind.
The biggest problem the game industry has in terms of narrative is that it has bred a consumer without shame. Want evidence? Go onto xbox Live. I remember when I played Quake 2 at the local internet café. I was probably around eight years old, and it was the only thing I’d ever do while I was there. Then one day I took out my axe and attacked a dog. I don’t know if I had never used an axe on a dog before, or if I had just noticed it then, but when a dog was hit it would cry. If the dog died, it cried all the way. I felt sorry for the dog, and then I felt dirty. I didn’t play the game anymore after I realized I was killing virtual dogs in cold blood, and had no choice but to.
Now this may sound stupid, but honestly, that’s what games should be going for (well, short of the whole never playing again thing). All people have a degree of masochism. As the song goes it “hurts so good.” Why else watch the Saw Franchise? We want to feel the revulsion. It feels good to be purged, though not instantly. Anything truly meaningful must bring about a degree of pain, meaning shatters. When the human mind is augmented, something’s gotta give.
Besides, people have been complaining for years about how the only two emotions in video games are fear and fun. I think this partially has to do with a lack of shame. There’s no revulsion at jabbing yourself with a needle that just came out of a vending machine, or in killing a dog, or hundreds of people (with their virtual families!), or poor animals in a forest (and only to become stronger!?)
Killing is so commonplace. In a tragedy the killings are at the beginning, the middle, and end. In between there is the shock and the running about and the trying to make things better. That’s lacking in games. The most important part of a tragic work is that it has to FEEL tragic. And when the death of hundreds in a game is taken for granted, there’s not much to do.