Video Game Auteurs

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Video Game Auteurs

Postby SpammyV » Wed Jun 17, 2015 6:54 am

Auteur theory is a theory of film criticism that says some directors have such an influence of the style of their movies that they are the primary auteurs (author, in French) of the movie despite film making being such an industrial process. Directors love the idea, screenwriters hate it.

Here I am using the term auteur somewhat loosely, not just to refer to the directors of a game but anyone high-profile to have their name be known and to leave a stamp on the work. For example I've seen some people talk about a Bioware or Bethesda or Obsidian game and say that X character or event or place has the feel of Y writer, but I don't know the creators well enough to agree or disagree. But keep in mind that it could also be a writer who is leaving their feel on the work.

So to broaden each other's knowledge of gaming let's talk about auteurs (again using the term loosely) whose style we like or dislike.

Suda 51: From what I understand of Suda 51, he likes cartoonish art styles, something of chiaroscuro lighting, swords, luchadors, babes, and leaning on the 4th wall. No More Heroes was a parody of "Have to be the champion" plots and those plots trying to pull actual stories out of their ass. No More Heroes 2 was simultaneously about the futility of revenge and the player/developer/publisher relationship. Yeah no joke it's also about that and I'll go into it. And while I haven't seen the wrestling in Killer is Dead yet an early boss tries to talk his way out of the boss fight only for Mondo Zappa to go, "Besides, we'll get tons of complaints from the gamers. This is supposed to be an action game."

Also I don't remember if I read this in an interview but Suda 51 does not like open-world games and particularly Grand Theft Auto. The open world in No More Heroes was pretty empty and stark. They took the open world out of No More Heroes 2 but put in a GTA opinion anyway. There are three levels where Travis Touchdown travels through Akashic Points (don't ask) and ends up in other genres. The first one takes you into a brief stealth segment reminiscent of Metal Gear Solid. The second to a Resident Evil 4 style survival horror action level. The last puts you in this dead maze of back alleys with lonely music playing in the background. During the Skyrim season of Spoiler Warning when they were wondering what different studios' Skyrims would look like I was going to suggest a fanservice and suplex filled Suda 51 Skyrim before I remembered that he hates open world games and wouldn't make it.

Kenji Eno: Rest in peace. What sets Kenji Eno apart in my mind is that he was fond of the idea of a digital actor or actress, a character that could be used from game to game while existing outside those games. Imagine if Maleshep and Femshep were Bioware's digital actors, being the default human leads in all their game, while also being able to be licensed and used in David Cage's newest game. Aside from that he was also a big believer in cinematic games, but at the start of the 3D era when the technology wasn't really there yet. And then he played Metal Gear Solid and, well, as Supergreatfriend put it:
Kenji Eno played Metal Gear Solid. And liked it. A lot. D2 contains ridiculously long cutscenes and a bizarrely preachy ending that still leaves me wondering today if Eno was trying to be like Hideo Kojima, or if he was mocking him.

Eno was pretty maverick, and I wonder if he might have seen more success if he started in a more modern environment where people (at least in the west) have warmed up a bit to cinematic and atmospheric games.

David Cage: I hate this man and everything he does. David Cage doesn't know jack about storytelling or video games and I'm still confused as to why he still has a career.

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