As we know Big budget games much like blockbuster summer entertainment have experimented with 'gritty realism' to varying degrees of success and failure. Whod've thunk some of us "loyal" fans of comic book heroes, popular japanese and western action game franchises would've all grown up, read a few books, had some life experiences, and learned to spot what are now called 'shallow attempts at gritty realism' faster than a 'what's wrong with this picture' puzzle game.
Now there are definitely other issues contributing to what we call a 8 year decline in quality, such as lack of pacing, popular game and game-mechanic cloning, casualization of hardcore titles, and the rise of badly done F2P
But I've been thinking about that whole ludonarrative dissonance shit people were rambling about, where bad game stories come out of that have jack all to do with the gameplay. From you tube critique, even from entire self-aware lamenting games (Stanley Parable, Spec Ops) and forum complaints we've heard.
How are we supposed to reconcile with a mass murdering protagonist?
What is this place and what are those people wearing? Japan is weird.
'Campy' and 'Serious' can't co-exist in the same fictional entertainment. Pick a street and stay on it devs or else.
That third one's been bugging me, because I've seen it done successfully in the 5th and 6th console and PC gen games, multiple times. People used to structure game mechanics and limits based on whatever happened in game stories, whereas now it's shock and awe popcorn without context or buildup, and now people complain about them not being deep enough in appearance or gameplay.
And I've been thinking **** that! ( ok not really but) how come not enough game stories adjust based on the rules of the game. and I'm not talking Bioware-style choice wheels, and QTE, or cutscenes that feature the weapons you were recently using, or even self-analysis games like Spec Ops. What I'm saying is...
Wouldn't you like to really find out, what it's like to be a human, in a world that deals with GAMEY rules?
For Ex: You can still have all the perks of instant healthkits, it just demands some explanation right?
Like What chemicals go into that shit that'll fix your bones or stop the bleeding? Are there hallucinatory or temp handicap effects from overusage?
Or even a phoenix down. What junk science goes into that?
Or what crazy world phenomena causes you to go into bullet time in a shooter or jump higher and maintain superhero levels of stability and to varying degrees how much of the population has it?
What about these big ass RPG worlds, where towns and cities are civil but the open world is littered with nasty random encounters. What type of money and resources or weapons does it take to quarantine all that bad shit out. Would you live in a world like that? How would it affect you or a real game character?
What sort of social politics exist, and different self-image in this fantasy world that are different, and apparently less repressed than we are in the real world?
All of these are questions that games would embrace instead of just stick in and not explain. Only indie titles have really tried to tackle or answer, but in subversive and sometimes 'academic' ways. I don't see enough that embrace the UN-reality of games, and make those kooky worlds familiar and adaptable. We've had sci-fi, urban fantasy and cyberpunk flicks like the Matrix, Ghost in the Shell actually answer this question.
Its just weird that games treat GAMEY mechanics as the vehicle for the story and not as important story foundations in their own right.