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Opinion

Sunday Thoughts: Building Foundations

Interactive entertainment.

I find myself watching a lot of television these days. Most of the time, rather than sitting down with a controller in hand and delving into the latest releases in the world of video games, I’ll see what treats I can find in the depths of the Netflix library or load up PlayTV and watch some of the (excellent, of course) items that I’ve recorded.

I wouldn’t say that I prefer watching TV, though; games, being interactive, have a certain quality that most television shows simply can’t match. Yes, there’s an incredible suspense with some serial dramas and both types of media have many pros and cons which I’m not going to go into at the moment; though I’ve came to the conclusion that games and television are relatively equal forms of entertainment.


Is it a game? Is it TV? All I know is that it has six arms and enough anger to fill the universe.
This might seem rather off topic at the moment, but I don’t really like anime either. Well, I did love Dragon Ball Z and, naturally, the Pokémon anime back in the day. I look back on both of these with nostalgic fondness, but I’ve never been compelled to watch any anime I’ve found on Netflix, or get into watching any of these series regularly.

Asura’s Wrath, though, is a different matter. Taking the format of a television show, it blends together both the style of an anime series (and we’re back on topic, see?) and the interactivity of a game. Going as far as to be presented as episodes and even featuring ‘to be continued…’ sections, as well as an announcer introducing each episode, it blurs the lines between these two forms of entertainment.

However, I didn’t play it methodically, like I would watch a television series. Instead I played one episode after another, partly due to reviewing, partly due to that being the way I’m used to playing games – and Asura’s Wrath, with all things considered, can only be described as a game, afterall.

I’m not sure if playing games could ever work in the same way as a TV show, though: could we ever play games in weekly instalments, as we do with watching most TV shows as they air? Would you be willing to wait to unlock the next chapter of the story?

Generally, from what I’ve seen, episodic games don’t work the way they should – they’re either far too long apart (I’m looking at you, Sonic 4) or don’t quite get the format right, making for episodes that don’t feel standalone yet, somehow, still feel disjointed.

The thing with gaming is that it’s all very insant and interactive and feeling locked out from a part of the story that you’d otherwise able to obtain is – usually – no fun, breaking that sweet comfort of being in control. I don’t think I’d ever like to wait a week to play Chapter 6 of the latest Uncharted game after completing the first five in mere hours. No, games should stay as they are, but who’s to say we can’t have something different?

Asura’s Wrath could have worked that way, though; I feel that Wrath could have been truly episodic and would have succeeded with this format. That statment appears to be going against my previous points but I don’t think Wrath should be strictly called a game – that’s just the only way we can perceive it just now; instead, it’s the foundations for something new.

It’s not God of War and it’s not Dragon Ball Z – it’s Asura’s Wrath and it’s different to what we’ve played – or indeed watched – before.


But... I don't want to play TV.
There’s one truth though: people who play games strive for interactivity, and whilst I’m not saying that we should expect the next season of Breaking Bad to have a meth cooking mini-game (imagine the headlines!) or some dialog choices for Walter White, it would be good to see more interactive experiences akin to Wrath.

I think the main thing to consider is my original point that video games and television are indeed different mediums, that share some similarities, and both provide great entertainment. Progression in games should never be locked out to fit in with an episodic format and progression through TV shows should never be hampered by interactive elements.

Asura’s Wrath, though, has built the foundations for a new form of entertainment; one that features the interactivity of a game blended with the nature of a TV show. In some ways it’s like a comic, a form which is neither a book or an illustration. These two formats which wouldn’t be considered comparable, but a comic blends them much like TV and games could be. this new medium has the potential to be an exciting one and there’s a lot of possibilities for not television, not video games, but this new, interactive form of entertainment.

Now, what shall we name it? I vote interactment.

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6 Comments
  1. Foxhound_Solid
    Is a smart cookie.
    Since: Dec 2009

    Excellent Sunday thought. Cheers B!

    Comment posted on 26/02/2012 at 16:38.
  2. Darth Newdar
    Member
    Since: Oct 2010

    Blue Toad Murder Files springs to mind as an episodic video game.

    Comment posted on 26/02/2012 at 16:43.
  3. colmshan1990
    Member
    Since: Apr 2009

    Siren Blood Curse is always forgotten about.
    A great horror, and the finest episodic game I’ve ever played.
    Back to the Future was fun and greatly entertaining, although I’m not so sure I’d have bothered to finish it if it weren’t Back to the Future.

    Comment posted on 26/02/2012 at 18:14.
  4. aerobes
    Member
    Since: Aug 2009

    While enjoying the games that were released episodically, I didn’t at all get along with the nature of the game being released in episodes.
    When games are released that way, I just wait until the entire thing is available and play through it all at once because by waiting I can either get tired of waiting, forget about it completely or get consumed by something else in the meantime.

    While the format might work for some, I personally find it much more flawed than beneficial.
    I will say, however, that it might be a good route to go down for companies that cannot afford to make an entire game at once and by selling each episode individually, it draws in more immediate money to make the next one.
    It’s also a good way of generating interest and could also be used to connect to the fans more closely and alter ideas and story throughout.

    Comment posted on 26/02/2012 at 20:05.
  5. tonycawley
    Pint! Pint!
    Since: Feb 2009

    My problem with this article is that you have to have an understanding of what asura’s wrath is all about to know what you’re talking about, and I dont!

    As for episodic video games, I think it’ll only be episodic for the point of being episodic. I mean, they wouldn’t be able to produce a whole episode of a game in a week would they? They can make a tv programme in a week, or even a day in terms of soaps, but its not possible with games. So they’d have to make the whole thing, split it up and release weekly chunks, so what’d be the point in that?

    Comment posted on 26/02/2012 at 20:07.
    • shields_t
      Member
      Since: Oct 2008

      Yeah I haven’t a schoolboy about Asura’s Wrath either but I’m intrigued. As for episodic games, I still curse Valve for the lack of Half Life 2 episode 3. I want to see how Gordon Freeman’s story comes to an end damn it!

      Comment posted on 27/02/2012 at 03:18.

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