This might be in part related to Craig’s post (sorry, I haven’t read it all yet, got caught up with Austin’s and responded, then wanted to post before I forgot to again), but this reminded me of the “arousing emotions is manipulative,” so craft is manipulative. The above video is a review of the upcoming survival game, “I Am Alive.” In the game you play a male protagonist who has just spent the last two weeks (I think, might be months) walking back to your home town on foot after some sort of world shattering disaster in order to locate your girlfriend and son. (Here’s a review from Kotaku)

It’s touted as being a more true-to-possible survival game than any other because, according to the reviewer, unlike normal games where there is generally not only an abundance of save zones, but also weapons, ammunition and health recovery items, those sorts of thing are actually rare commodities that are highly coveted in this game. In fact, like most games, you start off with a gun but no bullets. Unlike most games, you could go the entire first few chapters of this game without ever finding ammunition, but can still use the gun to intimidate “baddies” you run into.

Here’s where it becomes a confusing line between craft and art. The game manipulates you. It manipulates your emotions, and it manipulates you into manipulating non-playable characters into the game as well. It sets up scenes that make you feel dejected, hopeless, helpless and alone, but in a way that is so engaging you don’t want to set it down and do something else. However, by making you aware of situations where you will experience those emotions, it also gives you the opportunity to work through those emotions as you encounter them.

I hope I linked the right video, but if not, the point the reviewer made was that they used a health pack to heal themselves, then a few minutes later ran into a mother and her injured child. He was unable to save the child because he’d used the health pack on himself. He felt helpless and upset that he then had to watch the child succumb to their wounds. Had he spoken further on it, perhaps he could have reflected back on those emotions. Why did he feel badly about not being able to save a stranger? If he had saved the health pack would he have even survived to see the child? Etc.

So I guess my question in regards to Collinwood is then this: Is a game like “I Am Alive” craft because the designers set it up to manipulate our emotions during gameplay? Or can we call it art because they also set it up so we experience it in such a way that we have to explore and reflect on the emotions they expose us to?

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