Why so grimdark?
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Thread: Why so grimdark?

  1. #1

    Default Why so grimdark?

    Despite the fact that it came out in 2007, I only recently picked up a copy of Mass Effect for the 360. I bought it friday last week, and was so addicted that I managed to log about 32 hours of play time between then and yesterday, when I finished it. Not only is it an amazing game, but it really got me to thinking; why is everything in gaming (not just tabletop stuff) so grimdark these days? The storyline in Mass Effect does get somewhat dark, it still manages to stay on the lighthearted side for most of the game, and even in its blackest corners is nowhere near the current trend of dystopian, everything is broken, we\'re all screwed, level of hopelessness portrayed in most games around now.
    The more I think about it too, the more it starts to really get to me, the more I start to notice it everywhere, and the more I find myself sick of hearing about it. I feel like I\'m stuck in The Crow anymore, with how dreary, dank, and grey everything is becoming these days. It\'s in movies, television and music too, and while everyone is shooting for a film noir experience, I\'m only using gaming here as an example simply because it as a market seems to rely on it the most.

    I realize that the world isn\'t in the best of shape right now, so that\'s probably a big factor contributing to the current theme, but for as long as there have been home consoles, there has been the grim darkness of grimdark war and cliche storylines that take themselves way too seriously.
    Granted, it\'s fun to make-believe survive in a post-apocalyptic world now and again, but this is getting nuts. Characters in games have so much more articulation than they used to, environments can be all the more detailed, and designers sit at the helm of some of some of the most bleeding edge technology on the market. They can emulate life to an increasingly accurate degree, and in my opinion are beginning to give cinema a run for its money; but all they can come up with is the same plot in different shades of boring. Heck, Duke Nukem came out years ago, was barely 3D, and still managed to keep an upbeat, sarcastic outlook on said scenario.

    I understand why they do it too, it sells. Plain and simple. And it always has been and always will be more cost effective and more secure to go with a formula that you know works, over the alternative of a possible failure with a deviation in a new direction. I really think that\'s what\'s killing entertainment everywhere right now, people are just so afraid to try something new. They\'re afraid that any little change that could possibly upset this grimdark formula (where the bad guys never seem to win anyway, and if so not in any meaningful way) would awake the sleeping giants that are the critics, who have grown fat, lazy, and unimaginative at a rate directly proportionate to the increasing lack of innovation.

    I\'m mainly just venting here, but I am just so, so sick and tired of \"Perpetual Overcast Grey\" being everyone\'s favorite color. Come on people, even the creepy robed guys in Logan\'s Run looked like they were smiling about something.

  2. #2

    Default

    Yeah, I agree with this.

    There are some \'lighter hearted\' gaming out there, but you have to dig for it.

    Most of the fluff nowadays is

    \"In a world where there is no light, there is only war\"



  3. #3

    Default

    Originally posted by supervike
    Yeah, I agree with this.

    There are some \'lighter hearted\' gaming out there, but you have to dig for it.

    Most of the fluff nowadays is

    \"In a world where there is no light, there is only war\"
    Nah, it\'s not war, it\'s just people bumping into each other with their weapons drawn!

  4. #4

    Default

    Maybe it is because the Grim offers more possibilities, more interesting detail...

    For example, if you think about a perfectly clean wall and compare it to a wall that is battle worn, weathered, one that tells a story through the patina and small indices for what might have happened... I choose the latter...^_^...

    Why are Fairy Tales so grim...?... Maybe it´s because people like morbid things, because they twist reality...?...

  5. #5

    Default

    Dramatic games generally focus on conflict of one sort or another. To give these games more scope to expand into, the conflicts need to be pretty expansive themselves. But you do have a point that it gets a little tiring; few people are unpleasant enough to enjoy a steady diet of this sort of thing.

    I cure it by watching Stargate SG-1; Jack O\'Neil\'s inability to take anything seriously for long goes a long way in reminding me how pretentious \"grimdark\" settings can be.

  6. #6

    Default

    Meh. So long as YOU keep your happiness level up, I\'m not too worried about the video games and stuff ebing all grim and dark.

    The days of 4 color heroes is over. It\'s to hard I think to turn the clock back from the doom and gloom of things, especially in video games. It just seems like it\'s easier to make an interesting and complete experience in a darker setting, then a really cheery one.

    But even if \"grim is in\" then they could put some humor back in things, as you suggested. It can\'t be that hard.

    Waddaya do? It\'s a valid point for sure.

  7. #7

    Default

    Originally posted by evil tendencies
    Dramatic games generally focus on conflict of one sort or another. To give these games more scope to expand into, the conflicts need to be pretty expansive themselves. But you do have a point that it gets a little tiring; few people are unpleasant enough to enjoy a steady diet of this sort of thing.

    I cure it by watching Stargate SG-1; Jack O\'Neil\'s inability to take anything seriously for long goes a long way in reminding me how pretentious \"grimdark\" settings can be.
    I love that show for the same reason. That\'s actually the exact type of thing we need more of I think. The plot, while being dark beneath everything else, and serious at times, still manages a rather cavalier outlook that remains amusing instead of being oppressively depressing.

    Originally posted by Matt Cexwish
    Maybe it is because the Grim offers more possibilities, more interesting detail...

    For example, if you think about a perfectly clean wall and compare it to a wall that is battle worn, weathered, one that tells a story through the patina and small indices for what might have happened... I choose the latter...^_^...
    I\'m not so sure if it allows for any more or less backstory or elaboration as anything else though. What I mean by that is, you could very well have an apocalyptic event, but why does everything have to remain a hovel afterward? People rebuild right? So why can\'t we have clean, white walls and advanced technology along with shanty towns and desolate zones where reclamation never took place? I think that sounds a bit more realistic than the world portrayed in games like Fallout or Rage (which is an upcoming title, so I could be wrong there) where everything is just so utterly bleak and hopeless.
    Even in Left 4 Dead, when all things are going to hell in a handbasket, everything still manages to look fairly normal. Worn and realistic, but not desolated. Despite a zombie armageddon, the city isn\'t bombed out and destroyed by the military, and while you could argue that it just didn\'t happen yet, I don\'t think the atmosphere would be the same if it had. In fact, the reason I like the overall design of that so much is because it\'s immersive in that it\'s relatable.

    Again, this is just my opinion, but I really feel that developers are hiding behind their filter effects out of fear of a low metacritic score or general panning of their game. A great example of this is Mirror\'s Edge. A very striking game from both a visual and gameplay standpoint, that I thought would be hailed as a breakthrough in the first person shooter field (despite the fact that you never had to actually shoot anyone). Yet while it did have some minor issues, it was criticized for the same thing platformers have been doing for years; being difficult.
    Was it frustrating to have a jump not connect the way you\'d hoped it would? Yes. But I don\'t know how many times I died on super mario for the same reason, and that never stopped me from plugging along either.

    Sorry about the walls of text guys, it\'s been pretty cold up where I live lately, and I can\'t shoot paint inside, so I can\'t prime anything new to paint for a while. I usually paint on canvas and game during the winter months, and this stuff has been on my mind for a while.

    On a side note, GW actually advancing the story in 40k would be pretty high on my wishlist at this point too. I\'ve been following it for years, and it\'s probably one of the only Grimdark tales of Grimdarkness that I can\'t get enough of. I just hope it\'s going somewhere.

  8. #8

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    \"why is everything in gaming (not just tabletop stuff) so grimdark these days?\"

    Because it sells.

    Dystopia is easier to believe in than utopia. It\'s closer to reality.

  9. #9
    Superfreak!!! Dragonsreach's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Spacemunkie
    Dystopia is easier to believe in than utopia. It\'s closer to reality.
    Too bleedin true.

  10. #10

    Default

    And then there is the teenage demographic who will buy every game that\'s just gory and violent enough, simply because they consider that to be \"mature\" and anything without blood is just for babies. ;)

    Personally I buy games just for the gameplay. If a dark setting fits the game, then I don\'t mind at all, but I also like cutesy-colourful games (I loved Pokemon).

  11. #11

    Default

    And then we have the violent and gory, grimdark settings with a shitload of humor in them as well.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rM5lMHbq9j8

  12. #12

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    rofl @ the sexy nun!!

    i love dark stuff, as has been mentioned, it\'s sadly more realistic

    doesn\'t mean they can\'t put comedy in though, look at dexter, pretty dark but the comedy, when it happens, is superb

  13. #13

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    I think it has a lot to do with us being stuffed with pink fluffy bunnies and cute puppies and people in pastel-coloured costumes singing silly tunes when we were kids.... When we grow up we are sick and tired of happy-fun things! Or at least, that is the general picture, and game designers have to aim for as big a target as possible. If you care about storytelling and \"content\" you should stick with cinema, or litterature...


  14. #14

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    There seem to be a lot of happy fluffy Wii games, granted aimed at 5 year olds, but they do exist.

  15. #15

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    Message original : Matt Cexwish
    Why are Fairy Tales so grim...?... Maybe it´s because people like morbid things, because they twist reality...?...
    Actually, they where designed to inform kids via metaphor about a potentially harsh world, in a time where children worked and traveled, and were essentially treated more like miniature adults than \"kids\".

    Some fun reading :

    Darker and Edgier

    Grimmification

  16. #16

    Default

    Which sounds like it would sell more?

    1. \"Blood for the Blood God!\"

    or

    2. \"Puppies for the Fuzzy God!\"

  17. #17

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    You all make valid points, and I think Spacemunkie said it best when he mentioned that \"Dystopia is easier to believe in than utopia. It\'s closer to reality.\"

    I guess I just don\'t understand why it almost always has to be one extreme or the other.... I think we can agree that typically, brightly colored, happy-go-lucky stories are primarily geared for children, but to think that as an adult I\'m just supposed to buy into this cycle of never ending conflict not only in the world around me, but in media and creative mediums designed to pad free time as well... That\'s just so bleak.

  18. #18

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    Focusing on negative topics is old. I\'m doing some medieval reading right now as research for a D&D game, and I was surprised to find out about the way sensationalism infected daily village, town and castle life. or consider the Victorian-era habit (on both sides of the Atlantic) of taking the family out for a picnic to watch the local criminals get hanged.

    I think I\'m coming to the dark and grim conclusion (heh) that this is rather in keeping with human nature.

  19. #19
    Consummate Brushlicker Jericho's Avatar
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    I\'m glad you aren\'t harping on Mass Effect for excessive doom and gloom... I actually just got off my butt and played through it for the first time in the last few weeks as well. Bloody awesome game, but I was praying for them to crank the Blade Runner style neo noir factor up to 11. From my impressions of ME2, I will be getting my wish :D

    Side note: can\'t wait for Heavy Rain!! :cool:

    Anyway I still maintain that there\'s plenty of comedy in the media to keep things from being overly dark and pessimistic. For every Donnie Darko there\'s still a He\'s Just Not That Into You.

    For the curious parties out there, I was underwhelmed by the former and have never seen the latter. Being single has its perks.

  20. #20

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    Originally posted by Jericho
    I\'m glad you aren\'t harping on Mass Effect for excessive doom and gloom... I actually just got off my butt and played through it for the first time in the last few weeks as well. Bloody awesome game, but I was praying for them to crank the Blade Runner style neo noir factor up to 11. From my impressions of ME2, I will be getting my wish :D

    Side note: can\'t wait for Heavy Rain!! :cool:

    Anyway I still maintain that there\'s plenty of comedy in the media to keep things from being overly dark and pessimistic. For every Donnie Darko there\'s still a He\'s Just Not That Into You.

    For the curious parties out there, I was underwhelmed by the former and have never seen the latter. Being single has its perks.
    I really have nothing bad to say about it. I think it was a perfect balance really, and one that is rarely achieved. It was a blast to experience, and I hope the second one is just as good. I\'ve never played a bioware game before though either, so I didn\'t know what to expect. I know they have the Star Wars stuff, but I\'m really not into that for some reason.

    I\'m also looking forward to Heavy Rain. It might just be the tipping point for me to finally cave in and buy a PS3, not that the system doesn\'t have other good exclusives.
    I really liked Indigo Prophecy too though, despite it getting a little out there at the end. Also, I always hear that game get knocked for being nothing but quicktime events, but in a recent interview with game informer the director behind it explained that the reasoning was basically that for every gunfight you wanted to have, you had to have a play mechanic for it. So you design this combat system for the game, and use it. But then you keep using it, because you want to since it took so much work to do, and eventually you\'re using it so much that the whole game is just a series of gunfights. But with the system quantic dream uses, you can have fights, car chases, etc all with the same interface.
    He put it more eloquently than that, but I see his reasoning. Either way, I\'m stoked. :beer:

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