How does it work? There have been may different genres of gaming, some dead (like adventure games, which are are now resurrected, like Dracula, on the PC and the iphone as “indie” games, while they were the height of the money grabbing franchises way back when), some barely alive (I mean look at RTSes. There were 4, count ‘em 4 releases in one month because no one wanted to compete in the same blog space even as Blizzard’s behemoth, so scared are they of losing their diminutive market. What happened, they used to epic, EPIC, I say!), and some morphed into their own uber genre (third person action adventure. Time was you saw your character on screen because it helped you sell the fantasy. Now it’s a behemoth that covers superhero fiction, RPG-lits, platformer, action, and the weird God of War/Ninja Gaiden hyper violent space that has no description, just QTE), but no one has been able to change the first person shooter fundamentally.
I mean, we have been playing as Shooty McPistolhands since forever now, no?. Now don’t get the wrong idea. We’ve been playing the same perspective, not the same genre. There have been straight up shooters, on rail shooters, RPGs, stealth and even brawlers in this perspective. But the perspective has not fundamentally changed. You are still an amorphous pair of hands, doing nasty things to (hopefully) evil people.
This isn’t to say that the perspective is broken, but truth be told it isn’t real. When I walk down a street, I don’t see my hands in front of me all the time, and my peripheral vision sure as shit is better than that. I also see the edges of any visor/helmet thing I wear, though why I would wear such a things is questionable.
And yet that perspective, that view of seeing the game world works, persists, and keeps on troubling me with random World War 2 or Afghanistan scenarios.
One argument is, of course that this makes me feel like I AM that guy. That is utter bollocks for everyone but marketing people, and marketing people are evil. I do not for a minute think I am Gordon Freeman or nameless muppet soldier. I am Serious Sam, with Mrs. Serious Sam (though with the way she treats gaming she’s Mrs. Very Serious Sam, which leads me to think of Lolcats. A man’s gotta have hobbies.) shouting at me to eat food, and I am killing these virtual beings because hahaha they ‘splode funny. Maybe 12 year old boys who trick their parents into buying them18 rated games think they are Shooty McPistolhands, but because some parents refuse to educate themselves about their child’s vicious doings is no reason for a genre or perspective to exist.
Marketing dude or a man who got his parents to buy him GTA when he was 5? The latter, but he now works as a former.
The other argument, of course is that it make you see the world better. I would actually tend to believe that if I was a one eyed pirate dwarf from Middle Earth who has not seen more his ship’s masthead and some rocks at any given point. I mean filmmaking 101, right? The more you pull the camera away, the more you see. It’s like magic!
So what remains? That it makes for entertaining gameplay? Sure, but have you played Modern Warfacre 2? How in the world is that entertaining. Clearly entertainment is a factor of well made games, and not a sole purview of how you see the virtual space.
I think the strongest argument that leaps at me is that seeing just the gun and the mark is like Zen shit, or like Arjun only seeing the eye of the bird. “All I see is my target, master”. Though of course, that theory has broken down after modern games choose to dress your target with all sorts of accoutrements like EXPLODING barrels.
I guess ultimately the perspective isn’t the question, what matters is what you do with it. It’s just a bone. Like Carl Weathers said, “There’s still plenty of meat on that bone. Now you take this home, throw it in a pot, add some broth, a potato. Baby, you’ve got a stew going. ”
With modern First Person games, they have enough of a stew going, I guess, though one of these days I’d love to see a truly ballsy First Person game. And I don’t mean like Left 4 Dead, which was a ballsy move as a business, but like Zeno Clash, which has fucking balls of IRON.
Ultimately you might think I made a random post just so that I could quote Arrested Development, and that is true. Because, why not?