Week 3 Questions

2

Does the game represent men and women in stereotypical ways? What about other categories – age and ethnicity for example? Time period? Setting?

It quickly became apparent to me whilst playing LA Noire that the game uses stereotypical characters to create a realistic impression of 1940′s/50′s American culture. As regards gender, women are frequently portrayed as the victim, as in the first set of investigations where all the homicide victims are women, and the deaths often appear to be of a sexual nature. As well as this, women are often described in relation to men, who appear to have more power in the game world. I played the game through with my girlfriend and she did not feel alienated through playing as a man, and by the way that women are portrayed. She described this as similar to watching a film such as ‘Dick Tracey’, it is simply a more male orientated plot. I do think it is significant that the most notably strong female character in the game is Elsa, yet she is frowned upon by other characters in the game because of her independence which seems to be uncharacteristic for women at the time the game is set in. Similarly, it is notable that she is the women that Phelps falls in love with, I think this shows that her strength and independence are essentially good characteristics.

 

In relation to ethnicity, most of the game is spent playing as a white male, although there is a small part where you play Elsa who is a black German lady, although this does not really remedy a gender/ethnic imbalance that is found in the game. The majority of the other black characters are either manual labourers, jazz musicians or junkies. This seems to me to be quite stereotypical, but may be true to LA in the 50′s. The portrayal of black people in the game reminds me of ‘On the Road’ by Jack Kerouac where even in his beat writings, black people are still seen as ‘the other’ and only really feature as jazz musicians or junkies.

 

What can you say about narration in L.A Noire – is there any, and if so, how does it work? What kind of narration is this?

The narration in LA Noire is very similar to that of most adventure games. The story is aided by cut scenes, each new investigation has a prologue scene which shows the crime being committed or a related event. Also, the investigations have names which help to distinguish them from each other. The rest of the narrative is delivered through Phelps talking to himself, much like Guybrush Threepwood in the Monkey Island series. Although it is perhaps not actually Phelps talking, it is his thoughts being made audible. SImilarly, whilst questioning suspects, the narration is delivered simply by the viewer being able to observe what is happening, and this could be considered a kind of third person narration.

 

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Comments

  1. ClockworKei / Apr 15th, 2012 21:25 Quote

    1. I agree with your point about Elsa; she is by far the strongest female character of the game, I find it ironic that though she is the only non-victimised female, she seems to be universally hated by everyone. She represents everything that is opposite to some of the other characters, Black vs. White, German vs. American, Woman vs. Man and Strong vs. Weak.

    I also like your point about Cole Phelps’ voice-over being somewhat of a soliloquy, upon reflection, it does have that kind of feel, even when investigating clues; just a small, passing thought from Cole, perhaps making his seem more conscious than game characters usually are, perhaps it might go some way to explaining my inability to fully immerse myself in this character.

  2. M.Lockheart / Apr 17th, 2012 12:23 Quote

    I agree cut scenes also help narration to play like a film, allowing the character to sit back and watch. After completing the game I am in agreement that the narrator is in fact third person omniscient. The narration switches in viewpoint because we play as Phelps and another character in the game. I also realized towards the end of the game that the newspapers work as omniscient segments that fill in the player on the details that are omitted in the actual gameplay element. (If the player is sharp enough to find them.) Therefore the narration does give us detailed background information and insight to view and understand the obscure details of the game.

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