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Thread: How Ep4 ended (spoilers!)

  1. #1

    How Ep4 ended (spoilers!)

    Hi all, I'm new around here and a late comer to Life Is Strange (I only started this week), but episode 4 had such a profound impact on me that I was driven to write an open letter to Dontnod about it, and I'd like to repost it here as well. I hope it might be of interest:


    An open letter to Dontnod Entertainment on the art of the cliff-hanger, and the responsibilities of the author.

    It was early Tuesday morning and I was a total wreck – mentally, emotionally, and physically. I spent the next 36 hours feeling sick to my stomach, unable to focus, barely able to function. It felt like I was constantly on the verge of tears, and my recurring thoughts of suicide had come back with a vengeance. I've felt less horrible when people I've cared about have actually died.

    The cause? A video game.

    Specifically, I had just finished Episode 4 of Life Is Strange, and it had ripped my heart out.

    Days later and I'm still shaken – emotionally fragile and frequently distracted – but I have enough presence of mind to take a step back and try to understand why this game has had such a profound impact on me. This letter is both therapeutic and professional. I'm a writer and game designer, having worked at BioWare in the past and currently working on a series of Young Adult fantasy novels. When a game breaks me mentally and emotionally, I need to know how and why.

    SPOILERS AHEAD

    Episode 4 of Life Is Strange is full of intense moments. The first such moment was when Chloe, paralysed in an alternate timeline, asked her best friend Max (ie: the player) to put her to sleep with an overdose of morphine. The scene had been crafted so expertly that, even though I had started to suspect that this moment was coming, it still left me sobbing uncontrollably at my keyboard for over a minute.

    But this wasn't what broke me.

    The next moment was when Chloe finally found the decomposing body of her once best friend Rachel, buried under their private hideout. I, like Chloe and so many other characters, had held out hope that Rachel might still be alive, despite all the evidence suggesting otherwise. So when Chloe collapsed in a heap, faced with the terrible truth of her loss, I collapsed beside her.

    But this wasn't what broke me either.

    What broke me was the final few minutes of Episode 4. After embarking on a seemingly wild goose chase for Rachel's suspected murderer, Max returns to Rachel's grave with Chloe. Suddenly, Max is drugged, Chloe is shot through the head, we see the face of the true killer, and we cut to the credits. After the credits, Episode 5 is teased with what we can only assume to be Max's voice begging the killer not to torture, kill or possibly even rape her.

    Throughout Life Is Strange, the player has been gifted with Max's power to rewind time and undo some of the terrible things she witnesses and experiences. This ability makes Max a real force for good, saving lives and making the world a little less painful for those around her. Her powers are limited, and the outcome isn't always guaranteed, but there was always a certain comfort that came from the persistent thought "It's okay, Max can probably fix this".

    In those last minutes of Episode 4, her powers were taken away. Super Max suddenly becomes something she hasn't been before: a helpless victim. Literally powerless.

    Narratively, I understand how such a move makes sense. While Max's powers have been critical, they've always been coupled with her innate curiosity, ingenuity, bravery and her desire to help. Robbing her of her powers will force her to come to terms with who she is and why she does what she does.

    Furthermore, I understand that the already established rules leave plenty of scope for Max to escape her captor, go back in time, save Chloe and turn the tables on the bastard who shot her. The future may yet be bright.

    Emotionally, though, I'm still stuck in those last few moments, staring at Chloe's dead body, hearing Max's pathetic pleas. It's beyond haunting, it's practically paralysing.

    In part, I'm sure my particular emotional attachment to these characters comes down to my own history of mental illness, but I know from reading other people's comments that I'm not the only one to be left so distraught by this episode.

    Largely, I think my attachment comes down to the writing, the directing, and the voice acting. Dontnod have crafted some of the most complex and believable characters I've ever seen. They are likeable both despite and because of their flaws, to the point that they genuinely feel like real people – especially to socially awkward loners like myself who might find it easier to connect to fictional people than to real ones.

    But the interactive nature of video games can actually make such characters even more impactful than other, more passive forms of entertainment (eg: films and books). As a player, I am not just a witness to the fates of Chloe and Max, I am a co-author. As the game reminded me time and time again, the choices I made while playing have had in-game consequences, from trivial, to life-altering, to potentially apocalyptic. I have led Max and Chloe to this fate, hand in hand, and I can't help but feel responsible.

    Subsequent research suggested that Episode 4 would always play the same ending, whatever choices I made, but this knowledge does little to alleviate the guilt and fear that compound that sense of loss.

    Clearly, having had such a profound impact on me, this was a very effective way to end the episode... but I have to ask: Was it a responsible way?

    As an author I put a lot of effort into making my audience care about my characters, but I believe that this necessitates a responsibility concerning the mental health of my audience. If I'm consciously manipulating someone else's emotions, which is the prerogative of the story-teller, then I have to be careful to do no harm in the process.

    I understand the need for cliff-hangers in episodic storytelling, I've written quite a few in my time, but there's an art to finding the right place to leave a story hanging. The last beat of a story is like an after-image burned onto the mind, and it has the potential to leave someone in a painful, even potentially dangerous mental state – as I have experienced this week.

    The moment when Max and Chloe dug up Rachel's grave was heartbreaking, but my reaction (after sharing in Chloe's distress) was to think "Now we know, and now we're going to make someone PAY!" To me, this seemed the ideal place to end the episode, and I was genuinely surprised when it didn't. With hindsight, I actually still believe that this would have been a better cliff-hanger, at least as far as my own mental health is concerned.

    Though that moment is fraught with the heartache of loss, there is also the anticipation of retribution. Max still has her powers, and Chloe is pretty damn powerful in her own right, and I was eager to see what came next.

    I was down, but not out, and I think this is a great place to leave your audience hanging.

    Instead, the story continued, and ended at a point that left me feeling culpable in the apparent death of two people whom I have (let's be honest here) grown to love, and helpless to do anything about it.

    Instead of eager anticipation, I experienced a potentially dangerous relapse in my chronic depression.

    So again, I have to ask, was this particular ending a responsible choice on Dontnod's part, or should they have left it at a less traumatic point?

    It's not my intention to pass judgement here. This is an extremely complex matter, and my specific circumstances might well have made me the exception rather than the rule. It isn't reasonable to expect an author to consider the needs of each and every audience member, because we are all different and respond in our own unique way.

    My goal here is not to accuse, nor to condemn. Dontnod have created a true masterpiece in Life Is Strange, and the intensity of my reaction is a testament to the extraordinary talent and dedication of everyone who made this game a reality. I have no regrets about playing this game, and am grateful for its existence.

    This is as much about professional curiosity as it is for my own personal therapy. I wish only to start a discussion, and to raise awareness.

    Stories have great power, and with great power comes... well, you know.

  2. #2
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    Hi theleast, welcome to the forum

    The way I see it, videogames are art, and art should be expressed however the artist wants. If the artist wants to end a chapter on a highly emotional cliffhanger, then I'm okay with that. I've played my share heartbreaking games and seen my share of heartbreaking movies, and as much as I'd like to go "ugh, why did they have to do it like THAT?!" sometimes, in the end the experience is what we ourselves make of it, if that makes sense

    So in short - no, I wouldn't say the devs have an inherent "responsibility" to the players in this regard.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Driber View Post
    Hi theleast, welcome to the forum
    Thanks

    Quote Originally Posted by Driber View Post
    The way I see it, videogames are art,
    You'll get no argument from me on this point.

    Quote Originally Posted by Driber View Post
    and art should be expressed however the artist wants. If the artist wants to end a chapter on a highly emotional cliffhanger, then I'm okay with that. I've played my share heartbreaking games and seen my share of heartbreaking movies, and as much as I'd like to go "ugh, why did they have to do it like THAT?!" sometimes, in the end the experience is what we ourselves make of it, if that makes sense

    So in short - no, I wouldn't say the devs have an inherent "responsibility" to the players in this regard.
    Here is where we disagree, though I can definitely see your point. As an artist myself, I know how important it is to have creative control, and to not water down my vision because of fears about how it might be received.

    However, I think we all actually believe that an artist has some degree responsibility to their audience, and the question is where to draw the line, not whether.

    If I may paint an extreme example to make my point: Imagine if an episode of My Little Pony, half way through, suddenly had all of the ponies swearing like sailors and engaging in explicit hardcore sex. No claims of artistic vision would protect those responsible, they would be universally condemned. Even if it (somehow) turned out to be the best episode of MLP ever made, the fact would remain that the content would be completely inappropriate for the established audience. It would have been an irresponsible act on the Artist's part.

    Now I'm not saying that the ending of Ep 4 is even in the same hemisphere as that example, let alone ballpark, I'm just trying to establish that there is such a thing as an artist's responsibility to their audience.

    I believe an unwritten contract exists between artist and audience. The audience open their minds and their hearts to the artist's work, making themselves vulnerable in the process. In return the artist agrees to treat them with sensitivity and respect, and not to wander too far from already established expectations. This probably applies more to episodic content than one-shots.

  4. #4
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    Well, if an artist makes a shocking painting, he cannot be responsible if someone gets sad and jumps to his death. And there wouldn't be for example any bad ending in movies because somebody could get hurt.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by theleast View Post
    Here is where we disagree, though I can definitely see your point. As an artist myself, I know how important it is to have creative control, and to not water down my vision because of fears about how it might be received. However, I think we all actually believe that an artist has some degree responsibility to their audience, and the question is where to draw the line, not whether.
    Well, going by just the responses from me and Tataboj so far, what you are claiming is already not true; we do not all believe that all artists have a responsibility to all people who end up viewing or playing their art.

    I think Tataboj actually put it perfectly - if an artist makes a very shocking painting, triggering a mentally unstable person to jump to their death, the artist cannot be held responsible for that.

    I will grant that in some specific cases artists would do wise not to take things to far, but holding them accountable is another thing.

    If I may paint an extreme example to make my point: Imagine if an episode of My Little Pony, half way through, suddenly had all of the ponies swearing like sailors and engaging in explicit hardcore sex. No claims of artistic vision would protect those responsible, they would be universally condemned. Even if it (somehow) turned out to be the best episode of MLP ever made, the fact would remain that the content would be completely inappropriate for the established audience. It would have been an irresponsible act on the Artist's part.
    I understand the point you're trying to make, but the artists of MLP specifically target young children; LiS doesn't. The game is meant for 16 and up. I think we should keep that huge difference in mind, even though you did purposely use an extreme example to make a broader point. Also, the rating even specifically states "Realistic looking violence - Strong language - Use of illegal drugs". The artists (or rather, the publisher) did their part on informing potential buyers of the kind of content they can expect to face. I think the inherit responsibility, if any, ends right there.

    Now I'm not saying that the ending of Ep 4 is even in the same hemisphere as that example, let alone ballpark, I'm just trying to establish that there is such a thing as an artist's responsibility to their audience.
    I still disagree with this notion of an inherit responsibility. To use your own example - if there was ever an episode of MLP that went into an extreme direction as you described, but it is appropriately rated and aired on TV at an appropriate time slot for said rating, then I don't think that would be an irresponsible act on the artists' part, no.

    I believe an unwritten contract exists between artist and audience. The audience open their minds and their hearts to the artist's work, making themselves vulnerable in the process. In return the artist agrees to treat them with sensitivity and respect, and not to wander too far from already established expectations. This probably applies more to episodic content than one-shots.
    I'm also going to have to disagree with that. I do not believe there is such an inherit unwritten contract between artist and audience to be sensitive. If an artist wants to shock, he can shock. If an artist wants to be sensitive, he can be sensitive.

    As for not wandering too far from established expectations - if society would hold all artists to such an IMO oppressive standard, art will become stale. Musicians would just keep on playing the same tired old genre and become irrelevant. The freedom of artists to change their direction at their discretion is a great one, and one that I think is very important for society to respect. Without this, we wouldn't have some of history's great works of art. We wouldn't have as many great games, either. The recent Tomb Raider reboot comes to mind, for example

  6. #6
    I am also think that artist holds a lot of responsibility for his creations. But this kind of responsibility is more about message and values that author want to pass.

    But emotional impact, as i see it, is out of responsibility. Far from it, it could be considered as a measure of author's success. I personally see no reason for author to avoid it.

    And there is one more thing that shouldn't be forgotten. People a different. Ending of this game made you cry. But as for me, it made me (and my friend who was near me) scream in joy and laugh.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Driber View Post

    I will grant that in some specific cases artists would do wise not to take things to far, but holding them accountable is another thing.



    I understand the point you're trying to make, but the artists of MLP specifically target young children; LiS doesn't. The game is meant for 16 and up. I think we should keep that huge difference in mind, even though you did purposely use an extreme example to make a broader point. Also, the rating even specifically states "Realistic looking violence - Strong language - Use of illegal drugs". The artists (or rather, the publisher) did their part on informing potential buyers of the kind of content they can expect to face. I think the inherit responsibility, if any, ends right there.
    Also, Dontnod has put out a warning that some of the content might be triggering. They give you information on who to talk to just in case it does.

  8. #8
    And if this game made so huge impact on you, please, never, EVER play the game called "Demonophobia".

  9. #9
    The notion of an unspoken contract between artist and audience isn't a new one. Some artists even choose to spell it out at the top of the show:

    "Think when we talk of horses, that you see them
    Printing their proud hoofs i' the receiving earth;
    For 'tis your thoughts that now must deck our kings,
    Carry them here and there; jumping o'er times,
    Turning the accomplishment of many years
    Into an hour-glass: for the which supply,
    Admit me Chorus to this history;
    Who prologue-like your humble patience pray,
    Gently to hear, kindly to judge, our play."
    - Henry V, Prologue (Shakespeare)

    I'm harking back to my days as a theatre student in the 90s, and now I feel really old. But I've long argued that video games are a very sophisticated form of theatre, built around audience participation.

    All art, and all games (because I believe all games are art, even if they can't all be called good art), involves such a contract, without exception. The exact nature of said contract varies wildly depending on a great many factors, but it's always there. Some details will be specific to a particular artist or genre, others might be nearly universal.

    Off the top of my head, here are some common unwritten contractual agreements between player and developer.

    As a player:
    - I'll suspend my disbelief in the supernatural for the sake of your story's premise.
    - I'll cope with unrealistic art, because I know you're budget and tech limited.
    - I'll try to think of these fake people, these Frankenstein-like collaborations of designers, artists, modelers, riggers, animators, directors, voice actors, cinematographers, composers (etc), as *real* people.

    As a developer:
    - We'll teach you what you need to know to play the game
    - We'll finish the story that we started
    - We might be budget and tech limited, but we'll still make the game look and sound as good as we possibly can
    - We'll do everything we can to facilitate your suspension of disbelief

    When a game falls flat, it's often because one or both parties has broken their contract.

    Now I also believe that this contract extends to the artist taking some degree of responsibility for the mental health of their audience, and frankly I think Dontnod would agree with me on this point given their support page. They knew that the contents of this story could be troubling to some, and have taken responsibility for that.

    It's not the presence of triggering content that I'm talking about here. I've seen/read/played content that was far more shocking in countless ways.

    I'm talking about how it has been structured in this instance, and whether it could have been made less traumatic for some by simply changing the point at which Episode 4 ends.

    We might all be different people with different trigger points and emotional responses, but it is possible, to a certain extent, to predict how a scene will affect a broad range of audience members. In fact, as an artist, I'd say it's essential.


    PS: Thanks all for engaging in the spirit of discussion, rather than confrontation, as I had hoped

  10. #10
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    If an individual knows within themselves and through the professional guidance received from others, that certain experiences and scenarios, interactions, etc are triggers for spates of depression or anxiety in its various forms; it is solely that individuals responsibility to identify and control the exposure before the potential trigger is pulled.

    My wife suffers severe anxiety and depressive periods. She knows what can bring on those feelings and works hard to avoid exposure to situations and subject matter.

    She would never hold anyone responsible for triggering her depression unless they did it knowingly and deliberately with intent to harm.

  11. #11
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    I think it's really great too, that Dontnod include contacts with support groups for those who may be affected by the content of the game. They pre-warn about the subject matter, deal with it carefully and thoughtfully and then show support for those who may need help.

    I am so impressed by their efforts.

  12. #12
    There also a fable by Ivan Andreyevich Krylov called "The author and the Robber". I think it wouldn't be offtopic if i quote it here:

    Quote Originally Posted by IvanAndreyevichKrylov
    In the gloomy realm of shadows two sinners appeared before the judge for sentence at the same time. The one was a robber, who used to exact tribute on the highway, and had at last come to the gallows ; the other an author covered with glory, who had infused a subtle poison into his works, had promoted atheism, and preached immorality, being, like the siren, sweet- voiced, and, like the siren, dangerous. In Hades judicial ceremonies are brief; there are no useless delays. Sentence was pronounced immediately. Two huge iron cauldrons were suspended in the air by two tremendous iron chains; in each of these one of the sinners was placed. Under the robber a great pile of wood was heaped up, and then one of the Furies herself set it on fire, kindling such a terrible flame thet the very stones in the roof of the imperial halls began to crack. The author's sentence did not seem to be a severe one. Under him, at first, a little fire scarcely glowed ; but the longer it burned the larger it became.

    " Centuries had now gone by, but the fire had not gone out. Beneath the robber the flame lias long ago been extinguished ; beneath the author it grows hourly worse and worse. Seeing that there is no mitigation of his torments, the writer at last cries out amid them that there is no justice among the gods; that he had filled the world with his renown, and that if he had written too freely, he had been punished too much for it; and that he did not think he had sinned more than the robber. Then, before him, in all her ornaments, with snakes hissing amid her hair, and with bloody scourges in her hands, appeared one of the infernal sisters.

    "'Wretch!' she exclaimed, 'dost thou upbraid Providence? Dost thou compare thyself with the robber? His crime is as nothing compared with thine. Only as long as he lived did his cruelty and lawlessness render him hurtful. But thou! — long age had thy bones crumbled to dust, yet the sun never rises without bringing to light fresh evils of which thou art the cause. The poison of thy writings not only does not weaken, but spreading abroad, it becomes more malignant as the years roll by. Look there,' and for a moment she enabled him to look upon the world ; ' behold the crimes, the misery, of which thou art the cause. Look at these children who have brought shame upon their families, who have reduced their parents to despair.By whom were their heads and hearts corrupted?
    By thee. Who strove to rend asunder the bonds of society, ridiculing as childish folly all ideas of the sanctity of marriage and the right of authority and law, and rendering them responsible tor all human misfortunes? Thou art the man ! Didst thou not dignity unbelief with the name of enlightenment? Didst thou not place vice and passion in the most charming and alluring of lights? And now look !— a whole country, perverted by thy teaching, is full of murder and robbery, of strife and rebellion, and is being led onward by thee to ruin. For every drop< that country's tears and blood thou art to blame. And now dost thou dare to hurl thy blasphemies against the gods ? How much evil have thy books yet to bring upon the world ? Continue, then, to suffer, for here the measure of thy punishment shall be according to thy deserts.' Thus spoke the angry Fury, and slammed down the cover on the cauldron.
    And so this is my point: if author can tell right from wrong they could do whatever they want.

    After all, author is a special kind of guy, to who we pay our money for messing with our heads.
    Now I also believe that this contract extends to the artist taking some degree of responsibility for the mental health of their audience
    Although i clearly see you point, i think it can be rather dangerous on practice. Simply because people a different. Everything would be offensive to someone. Everything would have huge impact on someone.

    We might all be different people with different trigger points and emotional responses, but it is possible, to a certain extent, to predict how a scene will affect a broad range of audience members. In fact, as an artist, I'd say it's essential.
    It can be predicted on some level of certainty, but it absolutely can not be fully determined.

    If i was an author i could not predict your reaction. Simply because you reaction is something i could not even imagine.
    Last edited by Xeva-q; 7th Aug 2015 at 14:22.

  13. #13
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    ^ Good points, Xeva-q. I especially found it striking how you pointed out that we are indeed paying an artist to mess with our minds. That's essentially what's happening here, yeah.

    Quote Originally Posted by theleast View Post
    The notion of an unspoken contract between artist and audience isn't a new one.
    Well I'm not saying the notion is anything new, I'm saying that I reject the notion. Just as I reject the notion that one has to stick to their 'assigned' gender role. And that notion isn't exactly new either, but has been around forever.

    Some artists even choose to spell it out at the top of the show:


    "Think when we talk of horses, that you see them
    Printing their proud hoofs i' the receiving earth;
    For 'tis your thoughts that now must deck our kings,
    Carry them here and there; jumping o'er times,
    Turning the accomplishment of many years
    Into an hour-glass: for the which supply,
    Admit me Chorus to this history;
    Who prologue-like your humble patience pray,
    Gently to hear, kindly to judge, our play."
    - Henry V, Prologue (Shakespeare)
    I don't think that just because a certain notion has been used by famous people that we therefore have to accept the notion.

    I'm harking back to my days as a theatre student in the 90s, and now I feel really old. But I've long argued that video games are a very sophisticated form of theatre, built around audience participation.

    All art, and all games (because I believe all games are art, even if they can't all be called good art), involves such a contract, without exception. The exact nature of said contract varies wildly depending on a great many factors, but it's always there. Some details will be specific to a particular artist or genre, others might be nearly universal.
    I don't think it's valid to proclaim that "all art involves unwritten contracts, without exception". That's putting a personal opinion as matter-of-fact. And that's what I think all of this boils down to at the end of the day - personal opinions. Some may subscribe to the idea, and some may not. I don't think we can really speak of an objective truth here.

    Off the top of my head, here are some common unwritten contractual agreements between player and developer.

    As a player:
    - I'll suspend my disbelief in the supernatural for the sake of your story's premise.
    Yet many players don't apply suspension of disbelief when it comes to games. There are countless of debates online where gamers criticize devs for what they call "unrealistic" content.

    - I'll cope with unrealistic art, because I know you're budget and tech limited.
    Yet so many don't.

    - I'll try to think of these fake people, these Frankenstein-like collaborations of designers, artists, modelers, riggers, animators, directors, voice actors, cinematographers, composers (etc), as *real* people.
    That sound like a repeat of the "suspension of disbelief" argument.

    As a developer:
    - We'll teach you what you need to know to play the game
    What about games where the players are thrown in the deep and encouraged to figure out how to play the game on their own?

    - We'll finish the story that we started
    *cough* Angel of Darkness *cough*

    Heh.

    - We might be budget and tech limited, but we'll still make the game look and sound as good as we possibly can
    But that's something rather subjective, isn't it? What one player might consider looking and sounding good, another player might hate with a passion.

    - We'll do everything we can to facilitate your suspension of disbelief
    Even if there was such a contract, it's broken en-mass with all the hand-holding in games these days, lol.

    When a game falls flat, it's often because one or both parties has broken their contract.
    Or, the contract never existed in the first place and it's all just a matter of expectations, interpretations, subjective opinions on what is supposedly written in this "contract", etc.

    Now I also believe that this contract extends to the artist taking some degree of responsibility for the mental health of their audience, and frankly I think Dontnod would agree with me on this point given their support page. They knew that the contents of this story could be troubling to some, and have taken responsibility for that.
    And good on them for doing so, I find that admirable. However, that still doesn't mean that they are obligated to do any of that. I don't agree that the mental health of their players is their responsibility. I think that's actually rather dis-empowering of people with mental issues.

    It's not the presence of triggering content that I'm talking about here. I've seen/read/played content that was far more shocking in countless ways.

    I'm talking about how it has been structured in this instance, and whether it could have been made less traumatic for some by simply changing the point at which Episode 4 ends.
    But by catering to some people, you also deprive others of a better experience. It's not an issue of "let's change xyz and then everyone will like it better."

    We might all be different people with different trigger points and emotional responses, but it is possible, to a certain extent, to predict how a scene will affect a broad range of audience members. In fact, as an artist, I'd say it's essential.
    Is it really as broad are you portray it, though? You make it sound like a vast portion of the people who played it were all negatively affected in the exact same way as you. I'm not trying to belittle your personal experience, not at all, but I can't help but feel that this is somewhat of an exaggeration.

    PS: Thanks all for engaging in the spirit of discussion, rather than confrontation, as I had hoped


    Quote Originally Posted by Sneddonator View Post
    If an individual knows within themselves and through the professional guidance received from others, that certain experiences and scenarios, interactions, etc are triggers for spates of depression or anxiety in its various forms; it is solely that individuals responsibility to identify and control the exposure before the potential trigger is pulled.

    My wife suffers severe anxiety and depressive periods. She knows what can bring on those feelings and works hard to avoid exposure to situations and subject matter.

    She would never hold anyone responsible for triggering her depression unless they did it knowingly and deliberately with intent to harm.
    I agree with you 100% there. As much as I can sympathize with those who suffer from anxiety issues (and I know some people very close to me that do) at the end of the day it is their issue, and personal responsibility takes precedent. Unless people purposely set out to cause harm, of course, like you said.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Driber View Post
    Well I'm not saying the notion is anything new, I'm saying that I reject the notion. Just as I reject the notion that one has to stick to their 'assigned' gender role. And that notion isn't exactly new either, but has been around forever.
    But this notion exists not because it was forced by someone to exist, but because it's only natural for them to exist (i am not talking about gender roles here. it is rather dangerous topic in public discussions ).

    If you playing a game about supernatural while refusing to suspend your disbelief in supernatural you won't be able to enjoy that game. If one is not okay with the fact that video game characters do not look exactly like real people, it would be better for them do not play in video games at all.

    So, of course, one could reject the notion. But i do not think that by doing so they actually win anything.
    I don't think it's valid to proclaim that "all art involves unwritten contracts, without exception".
    But there is some basic rules of storytelling. Of course, one can broke them, it is not forbidden or anything. But, as a result they would only get a broken peace of fiction.

    No one can forbid me to write a novel about me, sitting on a chair and going nothing for 1000 pages. But who would read it?

    This agreements... it is not like you have to sing special document or anything. It is like an agreement about being polite.

    But it is pretty philosophical stuff and not actual point of this discussion anyway.

    And point of this discussion, as i understand it, is this: how much responsibility author holds for their creation?

    And i actually think they hold a lot. For example i will never forgive Leni Riefenstahl for making movies for nazi scum. I do not not care if her movies are good or bad, i do not care what her intentions were. She took her part in killing 27 millions of my countrymen.

    The message of work of art is what actually matters. And an author holds full responsibility for it. Right up to a bullet in their head. Words can kill. And also can make people to kill one another. And statement that author hold no responsibility for their fiction seems rather unfair to me.

    But, as i understand, we not talking about message, we talking about emotional impact. And i think that potential emotional impact should not be limited. Most of work of fiction nowadays can not actually bring any emotional impact.

    Emotional impact can not be fully calculated. And i think i have one good example for you, theleast.

    I hate this game. I think that main characters is twisted, rotten people. And i was actually glad when one of then was killed. This game had huge impact on me. But in a very negative way.

    Could one predict this kind of reaction? Could you even guess what reasons i have for it? I do not think you could. But not because i think you are stupid or anything (i think the exact opposite, actually), but because my reaction is abnormal.

    There are many people who liked this game. But i do not think many of them developed the same reaction as yours. I think it was few selected ones.

    There are enough people who didn't like this game. But how many of them grew so much hate about this game as i did? I think it was few selected ones.

    Or reactions may be exact opposite to each other. But they are equally abnormal.

    And for every popular work of fiction, there are always would be someone like you and always would be someone like like. It can't be predicted. It can't be even helped.

    I want to finish my rather long post, filled with some very bad english, with a quote, i bet you'll recognise it:

    Unless the light is put out... The shadows cannot be erased. So long as there is light... Erasing shadows will do no good.

    P. S. for Driber: not trying to be purposely antagonistic! Honest!
    Last edited by Xeva-q; 8th Aug 2015 at 01:40.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Sneddonator
    If an individual knows within themselves and through the professional guidance received from others, that certain experiences and scenarios, interactions, etc are triggers for spates of depression or anxiety in its various forms; it is solely that individuals responsibility to identify and control the exposure before the potential trigger is pulled.
    I have to disagree with this. While the individual plays a central role in caring for them self, they are not *solely* responsible. As a society, we all take some responsibility for the welfare of the vulnerable and disabled. Mental illnesses, such as depression and anxiety, are just as real and debilitating as physical illnesses. Just as we make efforts to ease the troubles of someone who is blind or cannot walk, we should also help those who have invisible disabilities.

    Quote Originally Posted by Driber
    I don't think it's valid to proclaim that "all art involves unwritten contracts, without exception". That's putting a personal opinion as matter-of-fact. And that's what I think all of this boils down to at the end of the day - personal opinions. Some may subscribe to the idea, and some may not. I don't think we can really speak of an objective truth here.
    What you call a 'personal opinion', I call a 'theory'. I believe it to be objectively true, and state it as such so that others might have an opportunity to prove my theory wrong. This is how debates work

    Yet many players don't apply suspension of disbelief when it comes to games.
    I think this is a failure on the player's part to hold up their end of the contract.

    - We'll teach you what you need to know to play the game
    What about games where the players are thrown in the deep and encouraged to figure out how to play the game on their own?
    In such cases, figuring out how to play is part of the actual gameplay, and therefore shouldn't be taught. There's still an expectation that the player should be able to launch the game, exit to the main menu, adjust options and quit, so that they can play the game as intended. These days, such fundamental actions are almost universally understood, and therefore don't require a tutorial.

    Even if there was such a contract, it's broken en-mass with all the hand-holding in games these days, lol.
    And this would be a failure on the developer's part, or a failure by both parties to establish beforehand that the player isn't part of the target audience.

    Or, the contract never existed in the first place and it's all just a matter of expectations, interpretations, subjective opinions on what is supposedly written in this "contract", etc.
    Perhaps 'contract' is too weighty a word here. It's how it is traditionally described, but in modern times it does come with a lot of legal baggage.

    Ultimately, we're talking about how roles are defined within a relationship. Every relationship comes with some kind understanding about the roles, rights and responsibilities of all parties involved. Customer & waiter, passenger & taxi driver, doctor and patient, parent and child, husband and wife, friend and friend. Like it or not, we enter a relationship with everyone we encounter, and the terms of that relationship are initially established based on certain personal and societal norms and expectations.

    When a stranger starts a conversation with us in a public toilet stall, most of us are shocked. That stranger just broken an unwritten rule of public bathroom relationships.

    Of course, the terms of these relationships are subject to change, and often do. As relationships grow and change, these terms are likely to become less generic, and more specifically tailored to the individuals involved. Still, the terms are most likely to be unspoken, often not even fully understood. It can take a lot of analysis and hindsight to understand that one party or another broke an unwritten rule that neither had even consciously been aware of.

    For some relationships, though, these terms are spelled out explicitly, for the sake of all involved. Marriage is a case where both parties lay down some very basic rules about how their relationship will work, but there'll also be informal or unspoken terms on top of these marriage vows.

    When an audience engages in a work of art, a relationship is established between audience and artist. This can be direct and reciprocal, like in live theatre, or indirect and passive, separated by time and space, but a relationship nonetheless. Artists express themselves through their work, and that expression establishes a relationship, just as a letter between two strangers does.

    I'd argue, therefore, that players and developers enter into a relationship when the player launches the game, and that both parties come in to that relationship with pre-conceived notions of each others' rights and responsibilities.

    This is what I mean by the unwritten contract.

    Many of these expectations will be based on established norms - the tropes of the genre, the track record of the studio, and in this case the prior three episodes. Most players will be completely unaware of what they consider their rights and responsibilities, but their experience of the game will be heavily coloured by them.

    The game developer, on the other hand, must be aware of such expectations. In fact, such expectations should be consciously addressed in all aspects of game design. This is in part because of our innate responsibility to care for others, especially those who are vulnerable, but also because it's impossible to make a good game, or indeed good art, without considering the expectations of your audience.

    And good on them for doing so, I find that admirable. However, that still doesn't mean that they are obligated to do any of that. I don't agree that the mental health of their players is their responsibility. I think that's actually rather dis-empowering of people with mental issues.
    Certainly I'm not saying that a player's mental health is the sole responsibility of the developer, but I do believe that the developer shares some responsibility, for the reasons I've stated above. I don't think it's in the least bit dis-empowering, any more than adding an audio description track is dis-empowering to blind people.

    But by catering to some people, you also deprive others of a better experience. It's not an issue of "let's change xyz and then everyone will like it better."
    I partially agree. Catering to some people *might* deprive others, but it isn't inevitable.

    We might all be different people with different trigger points and emotional responses, but it is possible, to a certain extent, to predict how a scene will affect a broad range of audience members. In fact, as an artist, I'd say it's essential.
    Is it really as broad are you portray it, though? You make it sound like a vast portion of the people who played it were all negatively affected in the exact same way as you. I'm not trying to belittle your personal experience, not at all, but I can't help but feel that this is somewhat of an exaggeration.
    To clarify, I never meant to imply that my experience reflected the majority. On the contrary, I expected to be in the minority here. When I said "predict how a scene will affect a broad range of audience members" I meant that artists can predict, to an extent, the reaction of the majority as well as a number of minorities, and should consider them all.

    As a writer, a big part of my editing process is imagining how a variety of readers might respond to specific lines or scenes that I've written. I've tweaked or re-written many things because I've realised that it might be unintentionally harmful or offensive to, for example, people of colour, people who are homeless, transgenders, victims of abuse etc. And I can make these changes without compromising the artistic integrity of my story, because I don't completely suck as a writer (I like to think).

    Quote Originally Posted by Xeva-q
    Emotional impact can not be fully calculated. And i think i have one good example for you, theleast.

    I hate this game. I think that main characters is twisted, rotten people. And i was actually glad when one of then was killed. This game had huge impact on me. But in a very negative way.
    I'm going out on a limb here, but maybe... just maybe... you're not the target audience for this game

    But you're right, we can't predict every single possible reaction.

    In this specific case, however, I believe that this outcome was predictable. Dontnod have put great effort into making players relate to and care for Max and Chloe, and to leave players hanging for months with one dead and the other helpless and vulnerable to abuse seems like it might be an irresponsible move. I think the episode could have ended at the discovery of Rachel's grave without compromising the story, and this is my original argument.

    I'm not saying that the events at the end of Episode 4 shouldn't have happened, I'm suggesting that they shouldn't have been the point at which Episode 4 ended.

  16. #16
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    Why do you hate the game so much but want to spend hours typing theories and counter arguing plot points with others. I think you love the game. People will make time for the things they love and you clearly make a lot of time for it.

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by theleast View Post
    I'm going out on a limb here, but maybe... just maybe... you're not the target audience for this game
    It wouldn't be enough for me to hate anything, i think. When my wife is watching "Sexy and city" first thing that i want to do is to leave the room. At the same time i do know that this show is a good show for women.
    In this specific case, however, I believe that this outcome was predictable.
    But i do not think that your reaction was predictable. There are not that many people out there who even can develop reaction like that. But even for those who can it wouldn't be inevitable. After all, it is just a generic cliffhanger. How long people had to wait, before "Return of the Jedi" was released?
    Quote Originally Posted by Sneddonator View Post
    Why do you hate the game so much but want to spend hours typing theories and counter arguing plot points with others. I think you love the game. People will make time for the things they love and you clearly make a lot of time for it.
    Not every game will make you scream, after all. And it does not matter - out of excitement or out of disgust.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xeva-q View Post
    But this notion exists not because it was forced by someone to exist, but because it's only natural for them to exist (i am not talking about gender roles here. it is rather dangerous topic in public discussions ).

    If you playing a game about supernatural while refusing to suspend your disbelief in supernatural you won't be able to enjoy that game. If one is not okay with the fact that video game characters do not look exactly like real people, it would be better for them do not play in video games at all.

    So, of course, one could reject the notion. But i do not think that by doing so they actually win anything.

    But there is some basic rules of storytelling. Of course, one can broke them, it is not forbidden or anything. But, as a result they would only get a broken peace of fiction.

    No one can forbid me to write a novel about me, sitting on a chair and going nothing for 1000 pages. But who would read it?

    This agreements... it is not like you have to sing special document or anything. It is like an agreement about being polite.

    But it is pretty philosophical stuff and not actual point of this discussion anyway.

    And point of this discussion, as i understand it, is this: how much responsibility author holds for their creation?

    And i actually think they hold a lot. For example i will never forgive Leni Riefenstahl for making movies for nazi scum. I do not not care if her movies are good or bad, i do not care what her intentions were. She took her part in killing 27 millions of my countrymen.

    The message of work of art is what actually matters. And an author holds full responsibility for it. Right up to a bullet in their head. Words can kill. And also can make people to kill one another. And statement that author hold no responsibility for their fiction seems rather unfair to me.

    But, as i understand, we not talking about message, we talking about emotional impact. And i think that potential emotional impact should not be limited. Most of work of fiction nowadays can not actually bring any emotional impact.

    Emotional impact can not be fully calculated. And i think i have one good example for you, theleast.

    I hate this game. I think that main characters is twisted, rotten people. And i was actually glad when one of then was killed. This game had huge impact on me. But in a very negative way.

    Could one predict this kind of reaction? Could you even guess what reasons i have for it? I do not think you could. But not because i think you are stupid or anything (i think the exact opposite, actually), but because my reaction is abnormal.

    There are many people who liked this game. But i do not think many of them developed the same reaction as yours. I think it was few selected ones.

    There are enough people who didn't like this game. But how many of them grew so much hate about this game as i did? I think it was few selected ones.

    Or reactions may be exact opposite to each other. But they are equally abnormal.

    And for every popular work of fiction, there are always would be someone like you and always would be someone like like. It can't be predicted. It can't be even helped.

    I want to finish my rather long post, filled with some very bad english, with a quote, i bet you'll recognise it:

    Unless the light is put out... The shadows cannot be erased. So long as there is light... Erasing shadows will do no good.
    We agree on the core issue (the artists cannot be held responsible for the emotional well-being of their audience) so I won't go into all those little side-statements you made (many of which I disagree with, and half of your post seems to be no longer directed at me anyway) but I will just address one specific thing you mentioned:

    Words do NOT kill people. People kill people. Emotional abusive tactics such as bullying kills people. Brainwashing kills people. Words inherently never kill people.

    Quote Originally Posted by Xeva-q View Post
    P. S. for Driber: not trying to be purposely antagonistic! Honest!
    No worries, you're doing okay so far in this thread. Thanks for being considerate, appreciate it

    Quote Originally Posted by theleast View Post
    I have to disagree with this. While the individual plays a central role in caring for them self, they are not *solely* responsible. As a society, we all take some responsibility for the welfare of the vulnerable and disabled. Mental illnesses, such as depression and anxiety, are just as real and debilitating as physical illnesses. Just as we make efforts to ease the troubles of someone who is blind or cannot walk, we should also help those who have invisible disabilities.
    I think you're confusing society with government. Government has a certain responsibility to make efforts to ease the troubles of people with disabilities, yes, but individual people and artists don't. And while I agree with the principle that it would reflect good on society to be mindful of the weak, it shouldn't be taken to the extreme, to the point where it starts to negatively impact the majority of people. Feminist jazzhands is a perfect example of this.

    What you call a 'personal opinion', I call a 'theory'. I believe it to be objectively true, and state it as such so that others might have an opportunity to prove my theory wrong. This is how debates work
    Well in that case we can dismiss your theory as false, as you have provided no proof that it is correct

    I think this is a failure on the player's part to hold up their end of the contract.
    I think it demonstrates that there is no such contract to begin with. "Expectations", sure. But no contract.

    In such cases, figuring out how to play is part of the actual gameplay, and therefore shouldn't be taught. There's still an expectation that the player should be able to launch the game, exit to the main menu, adjust options and quit, so that they can play the game as intended. These days, such fundamental actions are almost universally understood, and therefore don't require a tutorial.
    Not true; many games have tutorials. Some are just more "invisible" than others.

    And this would be a failure on the developer's part, or a failure by both parties to establish beforehand that the player isn't part of the target audience.
    That argument doesn't work for the vast number of games that cater to the casual market.

    Perhaps 'contract' is too weighty a word here. It's how it is traditionally described, but in modern times it does come with a lot of legal baggage.
    Perhaps. Like I said earlier, if you want to talk about player "expectations" I we would probably agree more than we have so far

    As for baggage - I think it was you who actually brought that baggage into the discussion when you connected the word "contract" to this supposed inherent responsibility the artists have for the emotional well-being of their audience.

    Ultimately, we're talking about how roles are defined within a relationship. Every relationship comes with some kind understanding about the roles, rights and responsibilities of all parties involved. Customer & waiter, passenger & taxi driver, doctor and patient, parent and child, husband and wife, friend and friend. Like it or not, we enter a relationship with everyone we encounter, and the terms of that relationship are initially established based on certain personal and societal norms and expectations.
    True, but said expectations and societal norms can be objectively wrong and/or unreasonable to begin with. If a man and a woman get married, the woman might have been under the assumption from the start of their relationship that the man is responsible for bringing home the bacon, likely due to (arguably outdated) societal norms as you put it. The "unwritten contracts" however does not justify the woman in said relationship to put the responsibility of bringing home the bacon on the man. Or vice-versa.

    This is what I meant earlier when said that I reject the notion of an artist-audience contract that binds them to unreasonable expectations just like I reject enforced gender roles.

    When a stranger starts a conversation with us in a public toilet stall, most of us are shocked. That stranger just broken an unwritten rule of public bathroom relationships.
    Not necessarily true. It depends on the situation. If it's in a nightclub where everyone is partying their butts off, it wouldn't be all that strange, heh.

    Of course, the terms of these relationships are subject to change, and often do. As relationships grow and change, these terms are likely to become less generic, and more specifically tailored to the individuals involved. Still, the terms are most likely to be unspoken, often not even fully understood. It can take a lot of analysis and hindsight to understand that one party or another broke an unwritten rule that neither had even consciously been aware of.
    Right, but these unwritten rules can be wrong and unreasonable to begin with. And, as you said yourself, they can change or disappear over time. I'm sure some people still try to hold onto unwritten rules when the rest of the world has long since moved on.

    For some relationships, though, these terms are spelled out explicitly, for the sake of all involved. Marriage is a case where both parties lay down some very basic rules about how their relationship will work, but there'll also be informal or unspoken terms on top of these marriage vows.
    True, and as I said, many of those informal or unspoken terms may be wrong or unreasonable to begin with. See my bringing home the bacon example.

    When an audience engages in a work of art, a relationship is established between audience and artist. This can be direct and reciprocal, like in live theatre, or indirect and passive, separated by time and space, but a relationship nonetheless. Artists express themselves through their work, and that expression establishes a relationship, just as a letter between two strangers does.
    Yeah, I think "relationship" makes more sense than "contract"

    I'd argue, therefore, that players and developers enter into a relationship when the player launches the game, and that both parties come in to that relationship with pre-conceived notions of each others' rights and responsibilities.

    This is what I mean by the unwritten contract.
    Right, but they are still just that - notions. And notions can be wrong and/or unreasonable. That's why I reject the term "contract" entirely, as it implies that said notions are objective truths that are binding, unchangeable, rigid. They aren't.

    Many of these expectations will be based on established norms - the tropes of the genre, the track record of the studio, and in this case the prior three episodes. Most players will be completely unaware of what they consider their rights and responsibilities, but their experience of the game will be heavily coloured by them.
    Well, I'm not one to shy away from being a contrarian to established norms, heh. Yes, their experience of the game may be heavily coloured by expectations, but that doesn't mean they were inherently correct to hold those expectations in the first place.

    You used the example of studio track record. Let's explore that. Let's say studio X has a track record of developing 2 action-adventure games that were each 40 hours long, story-wise. Do the people who purchased studio X's previous games have therefore an inherit right to a 40 hour long third game? I think not. While it would be understandable that game #3 being 25 hours instead of 40 would disappoint fans of the studio, but their expectations do not give them any inherit rights. Unless the studio lied to their audience before game #3 was released and specifically stated that their new game will be 40 hours long, they cannot be held accountable for players to feel "ripped-off" or whathaveyou.

    The game developer, on the other hand, must be aware of such expectations. In fact, such expectations should be consciously addressed in all aspects of game design. This is in part because of our innate responsibility to care for others, especially those who are vulnerable, but also because it's impossible to make a good game, or indeed good art, without considering the expectations of your audience.

    Certainly I'm not saying that a player's mental health is the sole responsibility of the developer, but I do believe that the developer shares some responsibility, for the reasons I've stated above. I don't think it's in the least bit dis-empowering, any more than adding an audio description track is dis-empowering to blind people.
    That's a false equivalence. Adding an audio track for the blind is like giving them a walking cane. No one is arguing against giving walking canes to blind people. But telling blind people that everyone in society automatically shares an inherent responsibility for their condition and their well-being is dis-empowering. Or perhaps a better term would be "condescending" / "patronizing".

    I partially agree. Catering to some people *might* deprive others, but it isn't inevitable.
    You don't know if it's inevitable unless you try it, though. It may very well be.

    To clarify, I never meant to imply that my experience reflected the majority. On the contrary, I expected to be in the minority here. When I said "predict how a scene will affect a broad range of audience members" I meant that artists can predict, to an extent, the reaction of the majority as well as a number of minorities, and should consider them all.
    I see. Thanks for clarifying

    Well I disagree with this "artists are responsible for predicting the reactions of many different types of people" notion. I think that's quite an unreasonable thing to ask of an artist.

    Sure, it would reflect good on an artist to be mindful of the fans of a long time running game series. But LiS in particular is new.

    As a writer, a big part of my editing process is imagining how a variety of readers might respond to specific lines or scenes that I've written. I've tweaked or re-written many things because I've realised that it might be unintentionally harmful or offensive to, for example, people of colour, people who are homeless, transgenders, victims of abuse etc. And I can make these changes without compromising the artistic integrity of my story, because I don't completely suck as a writer (I like to think).
    Virtually all works of art that handle adult themes are inevitably going to offend *some* people. Can't please everyone. You personally may have a handful of groups in mind, but I'm sure there are more groups that you haven't thought of, such as all religious people. It's near impossible to make a work of fiction that handles adult themes without offending all religious people in the world. At the end of the day, I do not think artists are responsible for this. Nor should do; sometimes offensive material makes for great art. We wouldn't have many of the great renaissance art if the artists tried to hard not to offend groups of people.

    In this specific case, however, I believe that this outcome was predictable. Dontnod have put great effort into making players relate to and care for Max and Chloe, and to leave players hanging for months with one dead and the other helpless and vulnerable to abuse seems like it might be an irresponsible move. I think the episode could have ended at the discovery of Rachel's grave without compromising the story, and this is my original argument.
    The same can just as well be said about shows like Breaking Bad or Game of Thrones. I really can't agree that emotional cliffhangers are an inherently bad and irresponsible thing for an artist to do. Unless it can be substantially demonstrated otherwise, I very much tend to give artists cart blanche on this.

    Quote Originally Posted by Xeva-q View Post
    It wouldn't be enough for me to hate anything, i think. When my wife is watching "Sexy and city" first thing that i want to do is to leave the room. At the same time i do know that this show is a good show for women.
    I enjoyed Sex and the City

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Driber View Post
    Words do NOT kill people. People kill people. Emotional abusive tactics such as bullying kills people. Brainwashing kills people. Words inherently never kill people.
    Well, yes. But also guns do NOT kill people. For example, hammer can be used to build a house and to crack open someone's skull. And holder of a hammer is always responsible.
    True, but said expectations and societal norms can be objectively wrong
    I do not think that societal norms can be objectively wrong, but only relatively.
    No worries, you're doing okay so far. Thanks for being considerate
    But i am not. I simply see no need for now.
    I enjoyed Sex and the City
    Oh well... I'll never be there, i guess.

  20. #20
    I too was shocked with the ending, but LIS is a story trying to be closer to reality, and this world is just that, reality. We must admit as gamers and artists that at some point we want to escape and take refuge in our art, and as spectators we want to believe that we can overcome reality, but reality doesn't care what we want. It will crush us like a frog on the road. The only thing that we can do is be stronger than reality, not running away and be better than it. That's the only way we can help everyone around us. I've lost people too, my brother swas murdered in cold blood in front of my house by hired killers because he'd chosen a good path, and believe me, when i saw Chloe dig i was already crying, but this is reality. We can only try and be stronger than all this bull...

    I think that's LIS magic. We should stop running away and face our demons, regardless of LIS endings and our own too.

    We are not alone and we'll never forget the people we lost, and that's the most important thing in our lives. People that abuse and kill are.

    I do not know you Theleast, but i share your pain like it was mine. I hope you find the reason why and beat your demons too.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by VUylvern View Post
    I too was shocked with the ending, but LIS is a story trying to be closer to reality, and this world is just that, reality. We must admit as gamers and artists that at some point we want to escape and take refuge in our art, and as spectators we want to believe that we can overcome reality, but reality doesn't care what we want. It will crush us like a frog on the road. The only thing that we can do is be stronger than reality, not running away and be better than it. That's the only way we can help everyone around us. I've lost people too, my brother swas murdered in cold blood in front of my house by hired killers because he'd chosen a good path, and believe me, when i saw Chloe dig i was already crying, but this is reality. We can only try and be stronger than all this bull...

    I think that's LIS magic. We should stop running away and face our demons, regardless of LIS endings and our own too.

    We are not alone and we'll never forget the people we lost, and that's the most important thing in our lives. People that abuse and kill are.

    I do not know you Theleast, but i share your pain like it was mine. I hope you find the reason why and beat your demons too.
    That was beautifully put man

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by LordBattleBeard View Post
    That was beautifully put man
    Thanks. It's been really hard for me all these years, and that's another reason why I've loved the idea of traveling back in time and do something about it, but again being stronger and opening to people is better than dreaming and running away from the truth.

    Think about it, Max's and Chloe's mistake was confronting the culprit alone, instead of asking for help. We see a lot of kidnappings and murders on the news and a small percentage has a happy ending, i mean, life is effin strange, putting a-holes or situations in front of you who accidentally or incidentally you or your loved ones up, the only real choice we have is facing it all alone or together.

    Or becoming the same that they are.

    Rachel and Chloe may be dead, and Max may be at the hands of a psychopath, but at least we can learn from this experience and be better people for all the ones that suffer around us, and educate the next generation to be better than this.

  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by Driber View Post
    Words do NOT kill people. People kill people. Emotional abusive tactics such as bullying kills people. Brainwashing kills people. Words inherently never kill people.
    I'll echo Xeva-q's point here that words can be weapons, and they can kill people - but I agree that it's stupid to blame the weapon instead of the person who wielded it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Driber View Post
    I think you're confusing society with government. Government has a certain responsibility to make efforts to ease the troubles of people with disabilities, yes, but individual people and artists don't. And while I agree with the principle that it would reflect good on society to be mindful of the weak, it shouldn't be taken to the extreme, to the point where it starts to negatively impact the majority of people. Feminist jazzhands is a perfect example of this.
    This is where we get deeply philosophical about the role of the individual within society. I believe that each and every individual should take responsibility for the welfare of all others, according to that individual's means. If you and I disagree on this point, I doubt we'll find a consensus on the specifics that we're discussing here

    Quote Originally Posted by Driber View Post
    Perhaps. Like I said earlier, if you want to talk about player "expectations" I we would probably agree more than we have so far
    ...
    As for baggage - I think it was you who actually brought that baggage into the discussion when you connected the word "contract" to this supposed inherent responsibility the artists have for the emotional well-being of their audience.
    I described it as a "contract" simply because that's how it has traditionally been labelled in academic circles. Let's agree to refer to "mutual expectations" henceforth

    Quote Originally Posted by Driber View Post
    True, but said expectations and societal norms can be objectively wrong and/or unreasonable to begin with.
    {snip}
    This is what I meant earlier when said that I reject the notion of an artist-audience contract that binds them to unreasonable expectations just like I reject enforced gender roles.
    Oh I completely agree that it's wrong to blame someone else for our own unreasonable expectations. Both players and developers can, and often do, have unreasonable expectations of each other. When it's the player, they might be called "entitled". When it's a studio, they might be called "out of touch".


    Quote Originally Posted by Driber View Post
    That's a false equivalence. Adding an audio track for the blind is like giving them a walking cane. No one is arguing against giving walking canes to blind people. But telling blind people that everyone in society automatically shares an inherent responsibility for their condition and their well-being is dis-empowering. Or perhaps a better term would be "condescending" / "patronizing".
    I disagree. Taking measures to ease the troubles of people with mental illnesses is no different to giving someone a walking cane, and I'm in the situation of a) having mental illnesses and b) using a walking can, so I know a thing or two about this :P

    (I'm not blind, I just have a bad knee that can make hills/steps extremely painful).

    When someone makes an effort to make life a little easier for me, physically or mentally, I don't feel dis-empowered, condescended or patronised, I feel *loved*.

    Quote Originally Posted by Driber View Post
    Well I disagree with this "artists are responsible for predicting the reactions of many different types of people" notion. I think that's quite an unreasonable thing to ask of an artist.
    I think it's perfectly reasonable because 1) I believe that we are all responsible for considering the welfare of others (you might disagree), and 2) an artist who *doesn't* do this will basically suck as an artist.

    Quote Originally Posted by Driber View Post
    Virtually all works of art that handle adult themes are inevitably going to offend *some* people. Can't please everyone.

    I agree, we can't please everyone - this is why I keep emphasising that we do as much as we are able.

    Quote Originally Posted by Driber View Post
    sometimes offensive material makes for great art.
    True, but often this is because the artist has chosen to be offensive. They predicted how different people would react and said "I'm okay with that." I'm not saying that it's wrong to be offensive. In fact, it's often the best way to tell a story

    Quote Originally Posted by Driber View Post
    The same can just as well be said about shows like Breaking Bad or Game of Thrones. I really can't agree that emotional cliffhangers are an inherently bad and irresponsible thing for an artist to do. Unless it can be substantially demonstrated otherwise, I very much tend to give artists cart blanche on this.
    I think I might not have explained my position clearly (ugh, words, amiright?), so I'll clarify that I have *no problem* with emotional cliffhangers, nor with triggering/offensive content. In fact I'd be a pretty sucky artist if I didn't embrace and use both devices.

    I'm not saying that the events at the end of Ep 4 shouldn't have been part of the story, I'm saying that maybe it shouldn't have been where the story was left hanging. This isn't just because it's "emotional", it's because of the very specific nature of the emotional impact of this ending, especially given the journey that Dontnod has taken the player on so far.

    In a story that deals heavily with choice and consequence, guilt, regret and personal responsibility, Episode 4 left me feeling helpless and guilty, and scarred by those last pathetic pleas of Max to the point that I might throw up. I honestly think that this was both predictable and avoidable, as well as unnecessary in terms of the flow of the story and in making players want to come back for Episode 5. It could have been handled better, and might even have been a better game as a result.

    Having said that, it's still the most mind-blowingly awesome game that I've played in a very long time

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xeva-q View Post
    Well, yes. But also guns do NOT kill people. For example, hammer can be used to build a house and to crack open someone's skull. And holder of a hammer is always responsible.
    I'm not really in favor of the "gun's don't kill people, people kill people" argument because they are fundamentally different than hammers. Hammers are made to build houses; guns are specifically designed to KILL people. So that's apples and oranges. Sure, guns don't actually kill people, but as Eddie Izzard would say, they sure make it a hell of a lot easier!





    I do not think that societal norms can be objectively wrong, but only relatively.
    So murder and rape is not objectively wrong? I seriously doubt you or anyone else will be able to construct a sound argument for why murder and rape is right.

    Quote Originally Posted by theleast View Post
    I'll echo Xeva-q's point here that words can be weapons, and they can kill people - but I agree that it's stupid to blame the weapon instead of the person who wielded it.
    Words can be weapons, sure; I do agree with that

    But I am, and probably always will be, vehemently opposed to censoring or banning words. Not in an anarchist kind of way, but in a personal freedom, live-and-let-live type of way.

    This is where we get deeply philosophical about the role of the individual within society. I believe that each and every individual should take responsibility for the welfare of all others, according to that individual's means. If you and I disagree on this point, I doubt we'll find a consensus on the specifics that we're discussing here
    We might not, but that's okay, we can still entertain notions we disagree with in the spirit of civil debate

    So I will entertain the notion that everyone holds an inherent responsibility for the welfare of others, but present to you this - what happens when one person's welfare negatively impacts another person's welfare? We don't all live on our own little island where actions never affect anyone else. Often we have to make concessions or compromises.

    I described it as a "contract" simply because that's how it has traditionally been labelled in academic circles. Let's agree to refer to "mutual expectations" henceforth
    I'm on board with that

    Oh I completely agree that it's wrong to blame someone else for our own unreasonable expectations. Both players and developers can, and often do, have unreasonable expectations of each other. When it's the player, they might be called "entitled". When it's a studio, they might be called "out of touch".
    Exactly

    I disagree. Taking measures to ease the troubles of people with mental illnesses is no different to giving someone a walking cane, and I'm in the situation of a) having mental illnesses and b) using a walking can, so I know a thing or two about this :P

    (I'm not blind, I just have a bad knee that can make hills/steps extremely painful).

    When someone makes an effort to make life a little easier for me, physically or mentally, I don't feel dis-empowered, condescended or patronised, I feel *loved*.
    But that's not what I was talking about. The act of directly giving aid to a weak person is in itself not a bad thing. I help the weak, too. What I was referring to is the coddling of the weak because of their weaknesses. Telling the weak that every member of society bares an inherent responsibility for their well-being is coddling them, and I know that many people on the receiving end of this coddling do feel condescended and dis-empowered.

    Sorry to hear about your knee problem, BTW. Indeed what a coincidence I just happened to use the cane example, heh.

    I think it's perfectly reasonable because 1) I believe that we are all responsible for considering the welfare of others (you might disagree), and 2) an artist who *doesn't* do this will basically suck as an artist.
    On 1) I do indeed disagree, which is why I think it's unreasonable when we're talking in the context of wide-ranging, blank statements like "everyone", "we all", etc. I might agree on certain individual cases, but not in this generalizing context.

    On 2) I couldn't disagree more. We all have different opinions on beauty, sure, but some of the world's greatest works of art have been made by artists who had a "F the world, I don't care about anyone" attitude when they made their works of art. Even great works of art that have been deliberately made to provoke and offend would not exist today if we were to hold each and every single artist to some arbitrary rule of having to consider others. So no, I completely reject the notion that these artist would "suck".

    I agree, we can't please everyone - this is why I keep emphasising that we do as much as we are able.
    But that's a self-defeating argument. If everyone will do their best to please the majority of people, by definition the minority will always be displeased.

    True, but often this is because the artist has chosen to be offensive. They predicted how different people would react and said "I'm okay with that." I'm not saying that it's wrong to be offensive. In fact, it's often the best way to tell a story
    Right, and the dev here in question has chosen to be offensive. I refer you back to my earlier post where I discussed the age rating of LiS and the explicit mentioning up front of offensive material within the game.

    I think I might not have explained my position clearly (ugh, words, amiright?), so I'll clarify that I have *no problem* with emotional cliffhangers, nor with triggering/offensive content. In fact I'd be a pretty sucky artist if I didn't embrace and use both devices.

    I'm not saying that the events at the end of Ep 4 shouldn't have been part of the story, I'm saying that maybe it shouldn't have been where the story was left hanging.
    So you're arguing against them using a (highly) emotional cliffhanger.

    This isn't just because it's "emotional", it's because of the very specific nature of the emotional impact of this ending, especially given the journey that Dontnod has taken the player on so far.
    Right, the devs left the player in emotional turmoil at the end of the game. And that's why I used the examples of Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones - that's what these works of art do. It's their purpose to leave the viewer in emotional turmoil. That's why they are so good and why they are so popular. It's not the only reason, but a big reason.

    In a story that deals heavily with choice and consequence, guilt, regret and personal responsibility, Episode 4 left me feeling helpless and guilty, and scarred by those last pathetic pleas of Max to the point that I might throw up.
    I've felt guilty over having made certain decisions in choice-based games, too. That's the fun of it. And I realize that "fun" might be an odd word choice in this context, but that's essentially why we play videogames at the end of the day - fun.

    I honestly think that this was both predictable and avoidable, as well as unnecessary in terms of the flow of the story and in making players want to come back for Episode 5. It could have been handled better, and might even have been a better game as a result.
    And I think here we're coming back to the "can't please everyone" thing; some will say that changing X might have resulted in a better game, and some will say that changing Y might have resulted in a better game.

    I know where you're coming from, though. Even in my favorite show of all time, the aforementioned Breaking Bad, I've had moments where I was literally pointing at the TV screen and semi-yelling at it in frustration while my SO was sitting next to me, "they could have handled that so much better if only... xyz!!" (I know, everyone's a critic, lol) but at the end of the day the artists made their art how they thought was best for their vision of their art, and we just have to accept that and move on.

  25. #25
    We're arguing in circles now, and I think we've both made our points. Having rewatched the ending of Episode 4, I'm more convinced than ever of my initial argument, but I'm clearly alone here and it's getting me down, so I'm bowing out of this conversation.

    Thanks all for taking part.

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