Gaming Scripts series:
Looking at a game and its script as a whole, it’s easy to get an understanding of what kind of game it will be. Having violence in a game is one thing, but having the characters in the game be in distress about it are two different things. You play the game and it stresses you. You don’t necessarily become immersed to the characters but the tension does rub off on you.
And it rubs off on you in the game’s ups and downs. It’s not just little moments within the game that make you tense, but the game as a whole exudes tension and aggression with very few moments of letting up. It’s that drama that keeps you hooked and that drama that exhilarates you. That’s a big reason why we keep playing, unless the game is really just that dull to completely ignore a good story.
That’s why I focused on well sold AAA titles, because there was a somewhat clear direction that the developers wanted to take their game with scores of artists and writers and developers working on the game’s image, its brand. Given the time, they scrutinize every piece of dialogue, every word that ever gets said or written to make sure it fits the personality of the person saying it and the tone of the game.
That’s why we’re going to look at the scripts a bit closer.
This is Bioshock. A subset of Bioshock, without all of the filler words required to make Bioshock grammar correct and only the words used with a higher frequency than others. Like before, we stripped out the top 10,000 most common words in the English language, grouped the same words together, and colored the words in by how neutral the words are (the Sentiment of the word, where red denotes aggressive and green denote kinder words)
What are the things that jump out at you? How about the large usage of the main characters in the game. Fortain, Suchong, Tenebaum, Splicers, etc… The game’s script does strong job of reminding you who the people are within the game and who the characters who mainly act within it.
But stripping out all of the words that don’t give us any emotional context, we are left with… a lot of red pieces again. Rapture, though it’s marked as green, is the place and doesn’t actually mean the sense of delight that one can feel. And for a place named to resemble such grandeur, there is an aweful lot of death and cruelty to be had in the game, but that was the who irony of it, wasn’t it? But the other motif of the game can be insinuated as well, if you look at some of the terms most used. Stubborn, incompetent, betrayal and survival. I mean, these are all plot-points that the game pulls off, but I forgot just how much Fontaine liked to taunt you with everything that he’d done to you.
Compare all of that to Bioshock Infinite and their heavy handed talks of sabotage and Godly praise for Comstock with terms like “beloved” and “Rejoice” popping up fairly often after the “drowned” ones arrival to the city.
“Lunatic” shows up often enough in both as well, but that’s because there’s “there’s always a lighthouse, there’s always a man, there’s always a city.”
At least for both games, there’s a fair balance of red to green. No? Don’t believe me? Think there’s a bit too much aggressive language in the Bioshock series just look at these pictures? Well, we get to look at Call of Duty again.
Nice of you to shower us with a rain of hostility and military babel, Call of Duty series. Even in having a transcript of the game, there’s very little non-aggression in these game. You’re always losing other allies in combat, you’re always off to some war in some country to kill someone because of some tragedy that they caused.
At least the aggression in GTA 4 is less about violence and more about violent outbursts. A lot of the aggression comes from the dialog and taunting everyone randomly generated person in Liberty City. That being said, those kinds of words make up a substantial portion of the game’s dialog, if you haven’t noticed.
On the brighter side, Portal and Portal 2 use both aggressive and non-aggressive language to belittle you while you’re playing. Maybe it’s because of the game’s delivery, but the abuse that you receive is easy to take in stride, or because you’re still riding high from solving the last puzzle. I’m sure if you recite any of the lines from the game to someone in real life that you’d get a smack in the face by the fourth line.
Skyrim’s aggression doesn’t come from what you do or who you talk to, but all of the backstabbing and betrayal that goes on within the lands of Skyrim. Most of the dialog talks about planned assassinations and sieges that need to occur. Conniving dialog is probably the best way to think of it.
If you hadn’t noticed, once we got out of Call of Duty-land, the varying usage of aggressive and non-aggressive words started to balance out a bit. That’s not to say that sarcasm is transcribe-able in this format (thanks GladOS) but not all games rely strictly on aggression.
They just rely on it a vast majority of the time, enough to make the overall feel of the game a bit one-sided to say the least.
Blaugust Day 6