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.[drop]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.[drop2]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.