Saturday, September 17, 2011

Split Screen: Freedom in Alcatraz

I have commenced a new column at Kill Screen that is all about playable characters and how they control us. The first, introductory column went up this week and is all about Alcatraz of Crysis 2 and The Shawshank Redemption. It also has an amazing piece of art by Daniel Purvis. If you read it, I'd love to hear what you think about it.

1 comment:

pierre said...

hey !

so i read your column over at kill screen and i must say the topic (of the column in general, not only the one you're tackling here) is really interesting. so i liked it. but i also like criticizing :)

first, i have non-negligible doubts regarding your analogy with the shawshank redemption. in the movie, the protagonist doesn't choose the prison; in the game, the player actually chooses to take the controller. and even in the case of alcatraz, i don't think that applies: if you woke up half bionic robot, you might become a super god or have a nervous breakdown, the playable character IS the one within the prison walls, and the player is the one wishing to deal with these walls, but never to accept them (which Andy Dufresnes does).

what i felt reading your column is that you're merging playable character and player. you're talking as if we were alcatraz, whereas i would have found much more interesting to focus on the relation between a cripple-turned-superweapon and the player, and how it affects the way you play the game, this is why i really enjoyed your paragraph about kicking the car down the street. it is clear that the player enjoys it so much because the once-crippled alcatraz should too.

instead of focusing, as you did in the beginning of the article, on the metaphor with prison walls, it was much more interesting when you started to explore the relation between the suit allowing alcatraz to live in his real world, thus allowing the player to experience this world. what i’m trying (laboriously) to say is that the article is really good except for the movie reference in the beginning and the mentionning of prison walls.

they were irrelevant regarding crysis 2, but could have been really accurate in a game like minecraft where the island is an island that you’re trying to accomodate as much as possible without being able to leave it.

anyway it feels that, with your first couple of paragraphs you’re implying that the playable character is a prison and alcatraz surely doesn’t feel like that.


i really really like the idea and am looking forward to read you again (races in Elder Scrolls ?)

sorry if it was long and blurry, and hope it helps you make your column even better.