The week 3 question.

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L.A. Noire represents masculinity, femininity and race, for me, exactly how I would expect people to have truly acted and thought in 1947. Some of the characters, with the possible exception of Cole Phelps, seem very misogynistic in their attitudes towards women. His two partners, who fit this bill the best, are Rusty Galloway and Roy Earle, who both share a distinct distrust and dislike of women. Rusty makes his distrust of women known almost from the outset, he even goes as far as to accuse the women in cases of cheating on their husbands (such as the victim, in The Golden Butterfly case), calling upon his own experiences to solidify his feelings, his three divorces seem to be the reason for his distrust, he even states on another of the cases “If I killed every wife that served me papers I’d be a mass murderer”.

Roy Earle is by far the worst offender in L.A. Noire for his misogyny though; even going as far as hitting Elsa for apparently being disrespectful towards him. Earle seems to be the stereotypical cop from that era, a macho type with a propensity towards violence and racism.

Racism also seems very widespread throughout the game, which I feel is inkeeping with the era its set, it being 1947 and the Civil Rights Movement not beginning till around 1955, you would expect the racial abuse that you see widely spread throughout the game, from anti-Semitism, in the case of Edgar Kalou to Roy Earle saying outright that its pointless to try to find the murderers of two black men as ‘all negroes are junkies and that they probably just OD’d’ to paraphrase. There is also a very strong countrywide hatred of German people too, possibly due to the events of the Second World War, which ended only 2 years before and was the cause of many new immigrants coming to America, trying to escape the Nazi regime.

Most of the men in L.A. Noire, adhere to ideals that men in America around that time seemed to have, especially when considering the war that only ended quite recently in the game, you have the veterans who display a sense of honour and loyalty towards each other, even when the country’s sympathy for them ran out, as one of Phelps’ war buddies says, ‘by the time their ship came in, the country had already held its parades and their sympathy had run out for the home comers’, or something to that effect. The view of the men in this game leans very heavily towards the negative, as our main characters come from, at the time, a very masculine occupation and others that we meet along the way hardly come across as friendly sort, from arsonists, and murderers to a necrophiliac, all due again to the themes of the game, police work and corruption; hazards of the job, I guess.

In fact, the only main female characters we meet are the widely hated and berated Elsa Lichtmann, portrayed as a German Nazi spy by newspapers and the general public alike and a woman of ‘loose morals’ for sleeping with a married man. The only other example of womanhood is Phelps’ wife, who we only meet once, when she discovers Cole’s infidelity, showing us one of the only displays of female strength, taking the decision to look after her children without her husband and forcing him to leave.

 

I believe that games can/have the opportunity to draw you into the story a lot deeper than other forms of narrative such as film or books, partly due to the fact that instead of reading about a situation, you act it instead; you aren’t reading about actions being made, you are performing the actions yourself. I think also, that when reading a book, you have to put a lot of faith into what you are being told, especially about surroundings, objects and even people, which can be frustrating when things aren’t described and you have to you’re your own imagination; video games take away this need for trust, as you can see the objects, surroundings and people for yourself, thereby allowing a person to fully submerge themselves into the actions of their character and begin to take the visuals for granted, which I personally believe is what humans do in everyday life too.

 

The plot of L.A. Noire can be seen objectively as quite Labyrinthine, starting the game as a police officer which is seemingly straightforward (OK, so its game where I solve and maybe prevent crime) and soon are led down a path that veers very much from this, such as being haunted by the past (so he has a few skeletons in his closet) and the constant shifting of goals, from a want to solve crimes to bringing down a corrupt organisation. Between the past, present and constant shift in characters, situations, locations and even jobs, a reader/viewer/gamer could get very lost if there was no narrative. The Narration itself is very much non-linear, especially regarding Cole Phelps (and the love affair that, for me, came out of nowhere) even though I find the game itself to be too linear, where it feels like you have very little control over Cole, this game world or even any of the events.

One of my teachers once said, “a voice-over in a film is usually a device, added for stupid people who can’t understand the story” and to me, L.A. Noire felt this way, the voice-over added nothing to the story, in my opinion, didn’t change any of my opinions about game play or even the characters, yet I can see that it was used more for it to adhere to the ‘film noir’ style which is so apparent in both theme and game title.

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