I was watching the show “Dexter” this holiday break (and got the crap scared out of me). The first season is supremely gore-y, scary, and GOOD – so much so that I wanted to know more about it. So, of course, I wikipedia-browned it and found that it’s based off a book series (including one about cannibalism called “Dexter is Delicious” which… if you’ve seen Michael C. Hall, then, yes). Anyway, my point is – I immediately wanted to read the series, compare the differences, and see if the series does the book justice.

In our videogame presentations, I’ve noticed a lot of folks talking about how important the narrative is in their games – and in my own game (“Braid”) a lot of reviews talk about the significance of the story, how mature it is, etc. If you take a look at boxofficemojo results for videogames that have been turned into movies – they’ve been really successful, even when they “bomb.” Prince of Persia, which stars the adorably goofy Jake Gyllenhaul was considered a flop and still raked in over 90 million. Crazy.

So my question is: why do people go see these movies? (For instance, I sat through Pokemon with my two younger brothers when it came out in high school. It was HORRIBLE. And… it still grossed over $70 -!!!). Does it matter how bad the plots are as long as they give us context? In the readings for class this week, it seems like we want to be able to discuss not just our experiences of playing a game, but how it fits into our lives, whether these characters are relatable. It seems like a pretty big deal, and it certainly makes sense that something that engages us as a society so thoroughly would need a bigger storyline than what a game is capable of offering.

It also makes the constructionist theory of designing games a lot more appealing to me when I think about it in terms of popular cultural consumption: when we are able to create games ourselves, we also have the agency to determine how it fulfills a need or creative outlet. We get to fill in the storylines we want to see; the experience becomes engaging and personal. Maybe when social scientists talk about the personal being political, it can also encompasses the way we learn as well.

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