18 May, 2008
This time around, let’s talk about a topic that doesn’t get covered much: tragedies. And, I’m not just talking about how the developers are treated, either. ;)
Can you incorporate themes of tragedy in games without turning off the audience? If so, how?
Tragedy usually refers to situations where misfortune befalls the protagonist(s) of a work. Most works considered tragedies grapple with the issue of an individual’s place in the universe, so it’s more than just being about how to kill off the protagonist in a lingering, gruesome way.
The game that I’ve even heard of that comes close to being a tragedy is Pathologic. The game gives you a limited amount of time to accomplish the goals, and the game doesn’t exactly hold your hand to help you accomplish it. Unfortunately, it sounds like the game has other problems (including poor translations from Russian), but the whole purpose of the game is to delve into the topic of one’s role in the universe, or even in a small, dying Russian town.
Unfortunately, the common cry when trying to discuss a topic like this is, “but, we want games that are entertaining!” It’s that dreaded “art” issue again, where people who talk about literature want to make games that aren’t fun for some stupid academic reason like “evaluating man’s inhumanity to man.” But, some people may want more.
What do you think? Is tragedy an appropriate topic for a game? If so, how would you implement it in to a game? What about into an MMO?