Forgive the lateness of my post; I joined this project late and there were issues in the ordering of the game.

WEEK 1

1. Please write character descriptions for any TWO interesting characters you have encountered in the game so far.

Cole Phelps: Naturally, the character who you should find most interesting in any work of fiction is the protagonist. This is especially true in a video game because of the interactive role of the audience–nobody would want to “be” someone they do not like.
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I’ve already commented on another post and in answers for last week’s questions about the representation of gender in L.A. Noire so I’ll try to develop and not just repeat my points. Having played it through twice now I can see that there are disparities between the representation of male and female gender in the game: quite simply, men dominate the plot of L.A. Noire – both playable characters are male, all the prominent NPCs are male and men are the main perpetrators of the crimes that the player is required to solve. That isn’t to say that L.A. Noire is a sexist game: they have tried to remain faithful to the essence of film noir, a genre littered with stereotypes of the time. To criticise L.A. Noire for employing these same stereotypes would be reductive and would completely discount the importance of the historical context of the game that is so intrinsic to the story.
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Question 1: Playing LA Noire the antagonist, to some extent, has to have that connection to the audience and realism of the character being played. The story has a solid journey establishing the society of that time. Each mission or case must be completed to go on through the next stage of the game. The player plays as Phelps from a third person perspective and the narrative is a detective showing an interesting perspective of the story/journey. Furthermore the connection between the characters are very well portrayed allowing the interaction with the player and also the well set environmental surroundings creates the realism to the story. Also it is the actions that the player takes with Phelps that determines the extent that one inhabits the character. The player will be likely to act upon their own intentions/ thoughts towards the case. The players own characteristics may be involved in the choices made in this world. In contrast the narrative in the novel has been written and the journey cannot be differed by any person, other than the author. Therefore, to some extent, the player of LA Noire becomes a kind of narrator for the story.
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Question 1: I think that whilst playing LA Noire the player, to some extent, has to ‘inhabit’ the character being played. The story has already been established and follows a linear style, whereby each case must be solved/completed in order to progress to the next case. Although the detective narrative has already been established by Rockstar (the equivalent of the narrator), the player plays as Phelps from a third person perspective. This allows for further environmental and surrounding interaction in the ‘world’, particularly as it is a video game. As it takes form from a free roam world, this is arguably part of the narrative, however it is the actions that the player takes with Phelps that determines the extent that one inhabits the character. The player will be likely to act upon their own intentions/ thoughts towards the case, and therefore the players own characteristics may be involved in the choices made in this world. This differs to a novel, whereby the narrative has been written and cannot be changed by any person, other than the author. Therefore, to some extent, the player of LA Noire becomes a kind of narrator for the story.
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Over the next 2 weeks we want you start by thinking about how L. A Noire represents gender. Does the game represent men and women in stereotypical ways? What about other categories – age and ethnicity for example? Time period? Setting?

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1. Please write character descriptions for any TWO interesting characters you have encountered in the game so far. These should be about 50 words each.

Cole Phelps: The protagonist Cole is the main point of interest as the game revolves around him and his job. At the beginning of the game he is inquisitive, decisive and level-headed. He seems to be quite sure of himself and his values. However as the game has gone on I as the player feel that he is not as trustworthy as one might assume. He too is revealed to be flawed like everyone other human. It is interesting to see how rapidly he rises to popularity but how quickly he falls from such a great height of recognition…
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Hi everyone

Thanks very much for all the interesting material you have posted so far. It’s exactly what we need, so keep it coming.

There are, however, a lot of people who, for one reason or another, need to catch up, so we are extending the dates as follows -
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1. I would say that as L.A. Noire uses the third-person format I cannot inhabit the character so readily as I would do if the game were made in the first-person format. Though the game’s POV is quite strongly biased in favour of Phelps’ views and memories, the filmic quality of L.A. Noire does make it more difficult for me as a player to occupy the identity of his character because a) it does appear as a clearly detached narrative and b) his back story and character are so thoroughly constructed that it leaves little room for self-identification. There is also the issue of Phelps being a male character and being a female player: though there may not necessarily be an issue with relating to male characters in all narratives, in the world of L.A. Noire men and women, the male and female gender are placed so far apart that it is difficult in this game to relate with any significance to the male characters. Having said this, I have been able to build a stronger profile of Phelps through his intricate interactions between NPCs and the frequent flashbacks to his service in Japan, so he doesn’t just appear to me as a flat, game avatar.
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1. How far would you say you try and inhabit the ‘character’ you’re ‘playing’?
(I’m not entirely sure what you mean by ‘inhabit’)

I found it pretty easy to role-play the protagonist in this game. As I’ve said before; the game is extremely linear and doesn’t really give you much choice other than to follow the character through the game. I think that the way that the game is made encourages the player to see the world through the narrator’s (Cole Phelps’) eyes.
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1. How far would you say you try and inhabit the ‘character’ you’re ‘playing’?

With L.A. Noire and other narrative-focussed videogames, it’s hard not to try to adopt the perspective of the character you ‘play as’. The decision by the player to make ‘moral’ choices throughout the game provides evidence for this point. For example, at several points in the narrative there are differing outcomes depending on how well you solve the cases, or impede a criminal. Presumably the player will attempt to make the correct decisions with the intention of doing as well as he/she can – in this case, making sure the correct person ends up in prison.
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