Sunday, June 13, 2010

Deep Thoughts For A Video Game

It's summertime and I like flowers. This was one of the shots I snuck into a bridal portrait sitting a couple weeks ago. I thought I'd share it today to see how the photos worked in the new format now that I've reshaped and resized the blog to allow for extra large photos. I think I like how the format works.

Last night Patrick and I finally beat Gears of War 2. An epic game of combat and hard choices made in a difficult situations that no one could truly understand. Video games are, to my mind, pretty much one of the biggest wastes of time known to man. There really isn't anything to gain by them other than some small improvements in hand eye coordination that could be achieved through the world of sports as well.

However, as Patrick and I were defending the world against the onslaught of vicious aliens determined to rule or destroy the world, an interesting discussion evolved.

Video games have developed more and more complex graphics as technology advances. Along with the graphics, the story telling has evolved as well. Gears of War 2 forces its characters to make some pretty hard choices and we both realized we couldn't fully understand the choices they made and what motivated them to do so.

As we played, we then turned into discussing other characters we've known and whether or not we could understand what motivated them to make the choices that they did. We decided that neither of us could understand the choices that Gaeta made at the end of Battlestar Galactica even if we could glimpse at least some of his motivation. Baltar was somewhat easier to figure out, though it was interesting how much of his own motivation (which was driven by self preservation) became twisted around so that he was in part motivated to help the greater good.

Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time is full of characters whose motivation is easy to figure and others that are nearly impossible. The Sword of Truth is populated by characters who generally are pretty blatant about what motivates them toward the choices they make. The character that fascinates us both, however, is Raistlin from the Dragonlance Chronicles & Legends. You can make the debate that he gained power and tried to challenge the gods to better the world and not serve his own ends. You can also point out that magic was his own "drug" so to speak and everything he did was to further that. His motivations simply aren't clear.

And I wonder how clear they are to the people who created him and who write him. It seems to me, that as a writer, I should understand what drives my characters to make choices and act in a certain way. Yet I freely admit that my own characters surprise me when I'm writing and I'm not always sure why. Perhaps if I plumb the depths of their character, I'd be a better writer?

Deep thoughts from a video game.

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