Friday, May 9, 2008

A Pixilated Version of Rhetoric

In the previous post, I posted the video that explained why video games were rhetorical. However, due to the the horde of exams and work that I had to do due, I neglected to explain the explication. Hence, let me do so here (Warning: Long Post).One of the first pictures that is seen in the video, is perhaps one of the ones with most significance. Such a picture would be the one that shows the "Pong" arcade. The picture accurately portrays just how much different the classics are from the new breed of video games. One of these differences is the fact that technology limitations made it impractical to have such a big machine in other place but in a a dedicated arcade place. The technological limitations also allowed but a few bits in the screen to be displayed, which meant for monochromatic and simple shapes were the only choice for video game developers to have in their games.  

The next picture of major significance is the picture where Super Mario Brothers was showed. Being a more recent game, a lot more people remember to have played at least a couple of levels in that game. The game also symbolizes the change from story-less video games, to the ones that actually had something that could be called a story. The story was very crude, save Princess Peach and rescue Mushroom Kingdom, but it allowed for the users of the video game to feel some sort of connection to the character, thereby making it more appealable and rhetorical.

Another picture that has a lot of meaning behind it, is the Fight Night 3 picture where the two boxers are playing. The graphics of Fight Night Round 3 are so realistic, that it is hard to realize it is a video game. The graphics upgrade upped the ethos of the video games making them more than just "childish games."

The picture with the most significance, at least to me, is the one that reads "Bioschock: Breaking the Mold." The picture mentioned before is from one of the best video games out there. Bioshock, as it called is most known for the way in which it delivers its story. Bioshock’s narrative not only uses the technique of staring the story in the middle of it, to grab the player’s attention, but it also adds a new twist to it which utilizes the properties of the medium. The first one of the slight twists that Bioshock gives to its narrative is that there are no cut-scenes or text that tells the user the complete story of the events that happened before the user entered the city. Instead, the pre-game story is scatter abroad throughout the city of Rapture in “Audio Libraries” which are voice recordings of the fictional characters that used to live in that city.

These recordings, rather than being mere additions to the main story, they are the story themselves. Such is Bioshock’s first interactive twist. The second one however surpasses the first one in the effects it has in the real world.

Bioshock is a video game that not only changes the way in traditional narrative is done with its “Audio Libraries,” but that it also incites further discourse in the user’s world. The main goal for the user in the video game is to escape the city of Rapture. However, as the player progresses and the enemies become stronger and stronger, it becomes obvious that the user controlled character will need to upgrade.

The only way to upgrade is by finding little girl (which appeared in the two following pictures) infected with a parasitic creatures living in them called “Little Sisters,” and taking “Adam” (the game’s currency) from them. The Adam however, is not on them, but in them and there are only two ways to take out: the player needs to either save the Little Sisters by cleaning their body from the parasite that makes them produce the Adam, or by “harvesting” them. Saving the little girls will only give the player half of the Adam which the player would have otherwise gotten had he/she harvested the Little Sisters. Nevertheless, harvesting a Little Sister means to take the life away from her. Although in paper the decision might sound obvious (get the most points), in practice, it is not as easy. Although the Little Sisters are not humans in the video game, their only purpose is to create Adam now, they still look like little girls. Hence the dilemma, should the Little Sisters be harvested or saved? Thus it is possible to see the how games have incorporated logic and morals into a dilemma that has no real right answer. The paradox being discussed bares a striking resemblance with the current issue of cloning.

The rest of the pictures are meant to depict some of the greatest nay sayers when it comes to video games. The main argument of people like Arnold and Jack, is that video games are way to influential to be left in the hands of little kids. This is not the case however, since video games are regulated, much like the movie industry, by an independent organization called the ESRB. One fact is to not about this, if video games were not rhetorical, no one would be arguing that they are too influential. Hence, in fighting them, the opposers of video games have actually made them to win.