Ian Bogost first claims that video games cannot be “interactive film(s)” due to how the video game medium itself lacks the ability to use cinematic editing. He explains that what makes film unique as an art form is the ability to edit, or link seemingly unrelated images or clips together to form something that extends the scope of what those components can do by themselves. Video games however cannot fully utilize these techniques as there has to be a continuous sequence of what the player does from a gameplay point of view. I.e. it is impossible for a creator to edit the sequence of a player’s actions. Bogost also puts an emphasis on how the virtual camera that exists within the medium can be compared to the cameras used for film, claiming yet that the medium cannot maximize the same utility due to this lack of editing. Heavy Rain is the video game he uses as an example to support this argument as it was heavily advertised and referred by as an “interactive film”. While there are “jump cuts” in this game’s story Bogost explains that these cuts only correspond with changes in location, not changes in the player’s relationship to the spaces, actions, or themes of the narrative.
Outside of editing, Bogost explains that Heavy Rain is still an interactive narrative. How when compared to film, is similar in that each sequence of the game moves forward the story. Bogost explains that this could be a reason why video games that are heavily narrative based are being described as “interactive film(s)”. With this Bogost moves to his main claim that the video game medium should instead focus what he describes as prolonging. He starts with how the gameplay of Heavy Rain can create a distinct emotional contact to the audience that film doesn’t focus on due to editing techniques. In one of the “chase scenes” of the game where a boy gets separated from the protagonist, the players experience what Bogust claims as the “slow panic of confusion” that would relate to parents who have lost a child in a similar manner. He would continue with how film would use a bunch of quick cuts to achieve a similar sense of panic, but the interactiveness at the game gives that slower pace due to the time it takes for the players to continue the action. He then gives the example of a sequence where the protagonist stares at his child. The player has to continue by pressing a button but can choose to at any time. The prolonging of the action can help build the narrative by Bogost’s standards.
“Prolonging” in Heavy Rain along with mise-en-scène, the establishment of a scene in order to push players along the objective of the game, is emphasized as an important foci by Bogost by critiquing how mise-en-scène in film is dependent on editing. He claims that prolonging allows players interact with the scene itself. A game from the same generation of video game that uses this “prolonging” technique is Skyrim. Skyrim without Fast Travel, a gameplay mechanic that skips this important “prolonging” part of the game, invokes the long and tiring journey that Skyrim creates. The story is supposed to be a great adventure, and the prolonging of the players in their quest supports this feeling by creating a lull between events that is more realistic to the real world. A great adventure has a great long journey to accompany it. The video below shows how Skyrim has a whole sequence that carries this feeling and, to extend back to Bogost, this would not have been able to be executed in film as it would’ve been portrayed by many quick cuts.
5 thoughts to “Facilitation: Bogost Persuasive Games: The Picnic Spoils the Rain”
I really like your facilitation. My favorite part of the reading was on you discussed a lot, which is mise-en-scène, which Bogost brings up on page 3. I found this interesting because I’ve never thought about it before in the video games that I play. For example, in Grand Theft Auto V, the storyline is brought along by the scenery itself. The player interacts with the things around him in the game’s city, and the game intentionally highlights certain areas or people throughout the storyline to help the player discover each step in the game and continue to move along. In GTA V, this is definitely necessary, as it is easy to get lost exploring and doing whatever you want (literally), so it makes sense as to why the developers would intentionally move you along with intentional added scenery changes and developments.
“But generally, video games don’t have cinematic editing. They can’t, because continuity of action is essential to interactive media. In fact, that continuity is so important that most games (3D games, anyway) give the player direct control over the camera, allowing total manipulation of what is seen and from what vantage point.”–Bogost
Video games do not use quick cuts and jump cuts like movies do because there has to be continuity of what the character in the video game is doing. A character usually isn’t running, for example, and then the scene suddenly changes when the player did not do anything to make it change. Video games give the player command of what they want to see because the controller can be used to move the camera around but in movies, where the camera will be focused on has already been decided and the viewer has no control over it.
Bogost claims that “film is editing” and that video games cannot have cinematic editing because “the continuity of action is essential to interactive media”. I’d care to argue against that, using a definition of editing as control over the media presented in a way that conveys meaning. Just like filmmakers, video game designers need players to focus on certain events or possible actions. Although a player may have full control of the camera, focus is drawn where the developer wants it to be, just like a film-maker may use a bright piece of cloth to direct our attention to a certain area of the screen. The video below features a game called “Dark Souls”, a game where the player has free control of the camera and direction of movement. Notice that, despite the detail in the surrounding world, the players camera and direction of movement is controlled by the path laid pout for them. Any opportunity to look around can;t be done while advancing the story, as enemies or other attention grabbers are placed in a way that keeps the game moving forward.
A fascinating counterpoint. There is certainly much in the way games are designed that guides the player, deeply, along certain paths, toward certain encounters, and even through certain actions perceived as “optimal” to the player. We usually act the way the designers have prepared us to act, even if we’re not aware of it. The kind of control Bogost is talking about is more specific – when there’s a cut, you haven’t just been encouraged to look somewhere but your previous sight has literally been cut away, so it is more forceful – but this is an excellent aspect of the rhetorical features of procedural systems that we should be sure to always keep forefront in our minds.
I found this facilitation very interesting because I’ve never thought of video games this way, maybe it’s because I don’t really play a lot of them. I only really started learning about film techniques this semester and i never really thought that they could be used for video games. I never thought of them as interactive film where you could look at the character development, the setting, the lighting and shadows, and the scene progression of the film. But you and Bogost have changed my mind because many types of mise en scene where used in your examples. These include setting and lighting and shadows , throughout the game the scenery or lighting changes as you play which helps move the game along. The lighting gets darker at night or when you are in a room with very little light and the scenery changes as your character moves forward.