So I used to have a blog. This is retooled from a post I did there about two years ago. I thought maybe some of you guys would enjoy it. Some of it may be "duh" to you because it was originally for a more artsy, less game savvy audience.
After probably a decade long absence, my old Nintendo 64 came back into my possession in 2012, so I immediately started replaying Ocarina of Time. This game defined a large chunk of my childhood. Damn, everything seems so much smaller now. Back then I thought Hyrule Field was the biggest place ever.
All of the games in the Zelda series provide an interesting perspective on the player's involvement. Link is the quintessential silent protagonist. Other characters spend the game talking at him, questioning him, and responding to him. You can pick simple options to some questions, but he doesn't have actual dialogue. Once the series went 3D, we follow Link's back, our eyes looking the same way he is.
The idea, of course, is that we are all Link. The long silences should be filled with our own thoughts, even if half the time mine are, "yeah, go on?" Besides the classic traits of a hero, Link doesn't have a defined personality. But I bet you rarely think of him that way. While we may not think of ourselves as Link, there's a fair amount of projection in every game.
The way games utilize perspective is not unlike painting. Video games by definition must have a degree of involvement, but the levels to which we are immersed in the events and characters is a wide spectrum. Similarly artists can manipulate the viewer into different "roles" in the artwork itself. I suppose I should zoom out on both paintings and games to start.
A Kotaku article from some time ago rather beautifully explains how Diablo III and many other dungeon crawlers (MMOs fit here too) seem very distant to the player. We aren't immersed in the action, but overseeing it. Jenn Frank writes: