Week 2 Questions

1

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.

 

2. Rather than ‘trying’ to see the world through his eyes, I think it near impossible to view the world of L.A. Noire in any way other than that of Phelps, but more than that, I find it very difficult to see L.A. Noire through anything but a male viewpoint. Laura Mulvey’s views on the “male gaze” (1975) are particularly relevant here: there is certainly a very voyeuristic and phallocentric view of women in L.A. Noire with manipulative characters like June Ballard and Lorna Pattison. All of the victims that Phelps encounters during his stint behind the Homicide desk are brutally murdered women, all drinkers and most abusive to their husbands, stripped bare and violated by the temp bartender with extreme Christian motives. These women are never given voices, they are simply objects, plot devices. Meanwhile characters like Rusty Galloway are given free reign to chastise, dominate and patronise women through his sexist attitude that prevails throughout his speech during Phelps’ time on Homicide. Moving away from feminist theory, I do try to sympathise with Phelps’ position as a veteran of WWII, experiencing such horror and having to live with it, and I think the game aids this with the flashbacks and his interactions with other war veterans. On a more superficial level, the striking visuals and realism of the game do also help me try and really immerse myself in the world that the creators want to convey.

 

3. I would say that Phelps does help shape my attitude towards the NPCs in the game: despite the judgements I have made about Phelps being a stickler for authority and displaying a certain arrogance he can be seen as a fair and democratic character on the whole. Following this, if Phelps takes a dislike to someone or seems to display a certain attitude towards another it is an attitude that I simultaneously adopt myself because I trust Phelps’ judgement. I would liken this to adetective character like Poirot who moulds the readers’ judgements through his own demeanour and behaviour towards others in his investigations of murders. You could also relate this to a character like Marlow from Heart Of Darkness: though Marlow is probably more sceptical than Phelps, more tarnished by the world, they share a similar profile: honorable men and independent thinkers that their audiences can trust to narrate the story-worlds that they inhabit. The filmic interludes of Phelps’ encounters in L.A. Noire could also be attributed to the way my attitude is intrinsically linked to his: Flitterman-Lewis describes how the “reverse-shot” in films (1992) where the camera switches its view back and forth between characters to watch their reactions means “From a shot of one character looking, to another character looked at, the viewer’s subjectivity is bound into the text.” I would say this statement perfectly sums up the cause of my attitude being so intrinsically linked with Phelps’.

 

4. Following my previous answers that detail the reasons why I am unable to inhabit the character of Cole Phelps, largely due to the strict male profile that he presents and the third person perspective of the game, I would say that my ‘game identity’ is almost wholly myself. I definitely feel like the player of a game/viewer of a narrative and not like a detective solving crimes and upholding law and order in Los Angeles. I have experienced similar alienation from the protagonist in the James Bond films because of the themes and Bond’s character, and also in crime novels such as Tango One by Stephen Leather. I would contrast this with a game like The Operative: No One Lives Forever, a first-person shooter that follows a female spy in 1960s America where I felt very much involved in the narrative of the game and inhabited the character better.

 

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Comments

  1. Rossss / Mar 30th, 2012 17:18 Quote

    Your fourth point is quite interesting but I respectfully disagree. I might be so far out of the gaming loop that I cannot comprehend how beautiful L.A. looks in-game or how smoothly the game plays (not to mention the face technology), but I feel like I’m constantly part of something serious. It got easier to deduce why/how crimes were being committed as I grew to understand and immerse myself in the game and thus take my role in the game more seriously.

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