Hello to everyone out there in the AAA community, and a special hello to Mitsugi and Chiaki in Japan, nice to have you back in the same time zone as myself again, perhaps I can catch the live show now lol. Anyway, what I want to talk about today is the overemphasis some put on the visuals of media products and how it causes people to miss out on some experiences they might have otherwise if they didn’t focus so much on how something looks. The two examples I’m going to use are anime and video games, as those are two types of media where this is most apparent.
Let’s start with anime, and how some people cannot bring themselves to watch a show simply based on the animation. This comes in a few different forms, like if a show is old by a certain number of years. There are some people who cannot watch a show if it’s older than the year 2000, meaning hand drawn anime because that’s roughly when the industry transitioned to computer based anime drawing. Conversely, there are probably people who don’t like computer drawn anime and will not watch anything after the year 2000, but I have never met a person like that. Some anime fans will judge a series on just the art style or just for seeing a few magazine scans. Examples of this are Code Geass and Gundam Age, which were both prejudged on their character designs. One turned out great and the other not so much. Sometimes people say they don’t want to watch a show because there is too much fan service, which I could see. For me, I will watch old shows like the original Gundam series, which is from 1979, and other stuff from the early 1980’s, but I haven’t gone further than that. I have seen Astro Boy, but I’m not sure if what they aired in Canada was the 80’s version or the 60’s version. Art style to me is kind of whatever, I prefer story over the visuals of anime I’m watching so I usually give a show a chance no what the animation is like. Finally, I don’t mind fan service as long doesn’t distract from the story and fan service part of the charm of a given anime show.
How this manifests in the video games industry takes the form of game graphics. Graphics are often pointed to by people want to claim that a certain platform is superior to another and it’s been this way for a long time. Examples of this today are; PC elitists who want everyone to drop playing games on any other platform in favor of the PC, PS3 or Xbox 360 fanboys who think their preferred console is visually superior to the other, and pretty much every other given game systems that have competed against each other. This is often the main or opening argument of people I like to call “graphic masturbators”, defined as people who favor graphics over every other aspect of game design. They seem to think that this is the atomic bomb of arguments and it automatically wins the debate. However, it’s my contention that these people miss the point of playing a game which is to have an enjoyable game play experience over eye appealing visuals. This syndrome has lead to game companies (at least the big ones) making trailers for games using just cut scenes form the and not actual game play graphics. This gives a false impression of the game’s graphics and leads to gamer alienation. The way a game plays is the most important part of the experience I get out of playing game, which is why I play games on various platforms.
The main thrust of what I’m trying to convey here with this article is the best summed up in the age old saying “don’t judge a book by its cover”. I think people need to go beyond just the eye candy in whatever media they consume. For us anime fans it means going beyond the new thing and checking out some of greatest entries in the anime genre. Because in the end visuals change over time and a good story transcends time, no matter what decade it is from.
Cheers and Beers,
Devil_SurvivorSurvivor Series:The Over Emphasis on Visuals,