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Author Topic: wRPGs = Film / jRPGs = Theatre  (Read 787 times)
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« on: October 13, 2007, 04:09:50 PM »

In following the roundtable on jrpgs/wrpgs, Damian made the point that music (specifically) in wRPGs are more like film soundtracks, because of western games tendancy toward more general events. While I think he's correct, I think he's right for the wrong reasons. If anything, films are less general and more direct, with every musical cue being written to specific events. I believe the real reason that wRPGs have a more cinematic feel (and this goes beyond music), is that jRPGs are stylized melodramas more in the tradition of theatre, where-as wRPGs are closer to the realistic goals of cinema.

Listen to any actor (Michael Cain comes to mind) talk about the differences between modern cinema and stage acting, and you begin to realize just how huge that gap is. Theatre revels in it's need for stylization. Rarely do you see a push towards total realism, because the theatre itself presents immposible obsticals on achieving realism. Therefor, they've developed styles that revolve inexplicably around the fact that they CAN'T be realistic. For instance, watching a bunch of hoodlums sing and dance on stage doesn't jar the senses in the way that it would on the silver screen (even though the movie version of West Side Story works, it does feel a little bit more out of place in that setting).

I think jRPGs have realized and embraced that limitation in a very similar way that the theatre has. After all, Japan has a rich history of stylized theatre, and even their modern cinema contains a lot of the mellodramatic elements that that medium thrives on. America (along with France) developed cinema. Cinema is an almost completely American artform, and far and away the most popular narrative entertainment medium. So it's not surprising that american RPGs would strive to achieve the realism that film provides.

It's interesting to note that stage actors and propriators of the theatre, in my generation, are very commonly fans of jRPGs. Greenroom talk often falls back on discussions of the latest Final Fantasy outting, Zelda, and whatnot. Most of america is a bit weary of stylization... seeing it as incomplete, "wrong", or immature, therefor they are commonly shunned in communities that don't already reflect these ideals.
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« Reply #1 on: October 13, 2007, 04:17:02 PM »

Even in terms of writing, would one say that RPGs are written more as film screenplays or as stage dramas?
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« Reply #2 on: October 13, 2007, 04:55:37 PM »

Actually, that's a tough one. I think it depends upon the game. Since games have a camera (even if a virtual one), i think there's part of it that's closer to screen writing. Technically, games do have more in common with film, specifically because they have a camera, and aren't produced in real-time, and that's important, but it can be superficial when it comes to discussing stylistic intention.
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eelhouse.net
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Currently Playing: Metroid Prime 2, Trails in the Sky, Bioshock: Infinite
Currently Listening to: Devin Townsend, Dream Theater
Watching: Star Trek: TOS, Slayers, Doctor Who (as usual)
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