The Instigator
Gaming_Debater
Pro (for)
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The Contender
Smikes
Con (against)
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This house disagrees with John Romero on video game plot.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/19/2014 Category: Games
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 389 times Debate No: 63539
Debate Rounds (5)
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Gaming_Debater

Pro

First round is for acceptance.

John Romero: Game designer working at id software, the developers of many mid-90's FPS games. His words about video game plot were:

"Plot in a game is like plot in a porn movie. It's expected to be there, but it's not important."

My resolution and BoP is that plot can be important in a game.
Smikes

Con

Haha, I'm only doing this because it looked fun, not because I feel committed to my position. But I'm going to give it my best anyhow. I must admit, though, it's a difficult position to argue for.

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Consider the many genres of entertainment. We have books, movies, music, video games, and so on. We also have subgenres within those genres: fiction, non-fiction, drama, cartoons, rock, pop, RPGs, first-person shooters, etc.

Now consider this: If an artist has an original idea, then does it matter which genre the artist chooses to use to convey that idea?

Trey Parker and Matt Stone are well known for their particular niche in comedy with the hit series South Park. If, while scrolling through my channel guide, I decide to watch South Park, then I chose it because I expect a particular style of comedy. I can imagine the surprise and disappointment I would feel if the channel guide had been mislabeled and if, instead, an episode of Law & Order was airing during this time slot. Similarly, if I'm not the kind of person who enjoys the socially awkward humor of The Office, then I may be equally disappointed if an episode of The Office were airing, even though The Office also happens to be a comedy.

The cartoon medium of South Park allows Trey and Matt to convey absurdly satirical ideas that press the edges of our imagination, often times even being downright trippy. Even though The Office is also a comedy, The Office isn't able to convey these same sorts of ideas because the medium simply isn't well attuned for these kinds of things.

So genre is important. If you're a talented writer with a great idea for a story plot, then you'd be wise to believe that some genres are better than others for expressing your ideas.

And what about the video game genre? The truth is, when someone picks up a video game, they're expecting to play something, not uncover a plot.

Skyrim, for example, has a highly developed plot, series of backstories, ridiculously complex mythologies, etc. Most people, however, are likely to dismiss this as fodder for only the nerdiest of nerds. No one cares about Skyrim's plot! When you see Skyrim in the news or in online forums, does anyone talk about the storyline? No, they talk about how awesomely massive the worlds are, how detailed and complex the quests and skill sets are, etc.

And yet, Bathesda probably dedicated an ungodly amount of time to writing all the stories and narratives for Skyrim. But no one cares because plots and storylines don't matter to anyone browsing the video game section at Best Buy.
Debate Round No. 1
Gaming_Debater

Pro

Once again I would like to clarify that my claim is not that plot in a game is always important, nor that it ultimately makes or breaks a game. Only that it can be important.

REBUTTALS


"Skyrim, for example, has a highly developed plot, series of backstories, ridiculously complex mythologies, etc. Most people, however, are likely to dismiss this as fodder for only the nerdiest of nerds. No one cares about Skyrim's plot! When you see Skyrim in the news or in online forums, does anyone talk about the storyline? No, they talk about how awesomely massive the worlds are, how detailed and complex the quests and skill sets are, etc."

Actually, the plot of Skyrim is more important than you, my friend, appear to percieve.


series of backstories- Without backstories, the player would not understand why their character chose who they chose to be. They would thus not understand why they are all so different, even though they grew up in the area and what makes them fit to be the dragonborn. The game's areas need backstories so that the player will understand why what is going on there is going on.

ridiculously complex mythologies- Middle schoolers are very fascinated with mythology. So fascinated that somebody founded a website for kids to create their own mythologies. [1]

Highly developed plot- The importance of the mythologies and backstories has been established. They could not exist without so much plot develpment.


ARGUMENTS

Why Plot Was Important in Majora's Mask

Imagine you are playing Majora's Mask for the first time. Differently, there is no clock at the bottom nor cutscene to tell you how much time remains to stop the moon and you get no hint that your mission is to free the four giants and stop the moon or what happened to the giants. This is what would probably go on in your head:

"WTF is that creepy moon doing up there?"
"uh, what do I do?"
"What's up with all this talk about death?"
"Why is the sky always such dark colors?"
"Know what? Screw it.*Turns off N64* "


If you did not understand the basic plot of Majora's Mask, then you would not be incented to play the game at all. When playing a game, a player must know what they are trying to do and why they are trying to do it. Without a plot to clarify that, the game will not evoke any feelings in the player, so they will get bored with it much more quickly.


The (Potential) Need for Plot in Turn-Based RPGs

Because of a traditional RPG's turn basis, the combat tends to be slow-paced. The slow pace and repetitiveness could bore some gamers, especially without catchy music to go with the battle like we have with Pokemon RPGs. The plot can tell the player why it is imperative that they win the battle as quickly as possible. The effectiveness of this increases if the plot appeals to some side of the player. This matters since such games tend to be quite lengthy.

Sources:

[1]- http://ashomtwit.espace-technologies.com...
Smikes

Con

NOTE: The first round was for acceptance only. Since I posted my opening argument in the first round, I will offer my closing arguments in the 4th round and will forfeit my chance to argue in the 5th round.

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Round 2 - Rebuttal:
In your rebuttal to my Skyrim example, you suggest that Skyrim's backstories are important because, without them, the player wouldn't understand the significance of the fact that his or her character is the dragonborn. The player, you say, simply wouldn't understand what's going on. Similarly, in the case of Majora's Mask, you say that the player wouldn't understand why there's a creepy face on the moon or even what the objective of the game is.

While that all happens to be true, I don't believe it helps to advance your argument.

Let's reconsider the central claim of this debate. From the mouth of John Romero:
"Plot in a game is like plot in a porn movie. It's expected to be there, but it's not important."

What could Romero possibly mean when he says that plot in a game is no more important than that of a porno? After all, some might argue that plot does, in fact, matter in porn.

Wait, why is that guy dressed as a baby?
Now why is that lady spanking him?
Oh, and now they're taking off their clothes?
And now they're... Geezus, what the heck IS this!?


Hey, and that's just an example from American porn. Without a plot, Japanese porn is hardly distinguishable from a Cirque du Soleil performance.

Obviously, without a plot, porn movies can be extremely confusing. But who cares? Haha, most people probably skip the introductory, contextual scenes of porn movies so that they can just dive straight into the primitive, carnal euphoria. No one even cares to understand what's going on in porn. You can be perfectly lost and confused yet still get what you want.

Now, returning to video games, can you be perfectly lost and confused in video games yet still get what you want? I think so.

When I was 8 years old, I spent months salivating over the Nintendo Power Magazine preview for Majora's Mask which was set to be released in October (I still remember!) of that year. I talked about it incessantly with my friends and family. In fact, my grandma even bought me a VHS tape that contained a more in-depth preview, including interviews with video game experts who had already played the game. Needless to say, that only served to ramp-up my anticipation even further. And when the game finally came out, it was everything I dreamed it would be and more. I can honestly say I've spent more hours of my life playing that one particular game than any other game. I would even spend hours upon hours just messing around and exploring the worlds of that game, not even trying to accomplish anything in particular. No game gives me greater nostalgia than Majora's Mask, not even by a long shot.

At 8 or 9 years old, did I really understand what was going on in that game? Looking back, I'm fairly sure I vaguely understood that Majora's mask was evil, that the mask had possessed the skullkid, and that - for some inexplicable reason - Majora had cursed the moon so that it would crush Termina in three days. But I don't think I understood much more than that. I still can't explain what the backstory of the four giants really was and why they happened to live in Termina. In fact, I think I may have even been surprised the first time that I saw the giants stop the moon from crashing. I don't believe I was expecting that. I was just a 3rd grader playing my Nintendo. I was having fun. The storyline may have been there, but it just sorta fizzled out into the peripheries of my attention.

And yet, without totally grasping its storyline, Majora's Mask was my favorite game.

Pokemon is probably an even weaker example, in my opinion. Interview any 6 year-old pokemon trainer, and I guarantee they can't tell you the storyline of that game. All they know is that they have their pokemon, they're training them against wild pokemon, and they're trying to catch them all. The storyline is beyond them, yet they're still able to enjoy the game.
Debate Round No. 2
Gaming_Debater

Pro

Gaming_Debater forfeited this round.
Smikes

Con

Smikes forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
Gaming_Debater

Pro

Gaming_Debater forfeited this round.
Smikes

Con

Smikes forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
Gaming_Debater

Pro

Gaming_Debater forfeited this round.
Smikes

Con

Smikes forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 5
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