Week 3 Stereotypes and Narration

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

Set in Los Angeles 1947, La Noire tends to express the opinions of the majority of the vocal populace of the time. This tended to be a time of women being stereotypical housewives, hardly working with very few rights that would help them even if they wanted to. Though this would change due to the war and how many women went to work in factories to produce ammunition, as well as many other products needed for the war effort.

Most of the women in the game are portrayed as weak or broken, especially in the case of the murderers as they typically have a far weaker interrogation line than their male counterparts. The only woman who truly breaks this cycle is the Jazz club singer Elsa Lichtmann, who tends to feel like a strong character that can get her own way. This is even further influenced through the development of her and Phelps’ partnership, where she seems to dictate how far he falls for her.

Even though Elsa seems to show a different more modern side of women, she still gets returned to the standard of the time by Roy Earle. This instance takes place after she ‘insults’ him and he feels the need to put her in her place physically. This instance however was very useful for character development as we get to learn about the current feeling for German immigrants in post-war LA.

When we look to representing other ethnicities we tend to see a very one sided racist view, that is except in the way in which Phelps conducts his investigation, though he does play to the way that Fleetwood Morgan knows most people at the time view the black populace and uses it to coax the truth from him.

When we look to the male characters we see a broad variety of characters, from the relatively well-mannered Cole Phelps who is very tolerant of pretty much everyone, though he does have a mean streak which comes out when he is pushed too far. However when we look at the broad number of non-playable characters (NPCs) we see various male personas, from the violent, sexist and old fashioned Rusty, to the modern charismatic cruel pimp that is Roy Earle. We even have more balanced characters such as Stefan Bekowsky and the unbothered seemingly depressed Herschel Biggs. Though many NPCs have a strong character, I focus upon these characters in particular as though the other NPCs are met during cases, your partners are with you for multiple cases and establish a greater backstory through the in car conversations.

After you’ve answered that question, can you also describe HOW a game represents groups of people and places / situations, compared to a novel or a film? Is it the same, or does the fact that you play the game, in character, make any difference – how does it compare to reading a character or narrator’s point of view or watching a film?

The way the question is asked leaves it open to discuss the two main approaches of storytelling. The first being how a typical game would introduce elements of the story, of which there are many, such as the typical moving plot-line, similar to that of LA Noire’s linear storyline, then there is the player controlled extra story elements that can come in the form of data logs and other such non vital story telling devices.

The second of these, the non-linear log based storytelling, tends to stick to role playing games as these tend to allow the player to engross themselves to different levels and find out what they want about their characters.

Whereas in films and novels we are given a combination of both linear storytelling and interesting backstory which allows us to explore all of the characters we encounter.

Finally, 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?

In my opinion, there is no narration in the strict sense of the word, due to their being no voice over telling you what is happening in the game and during the story. Instead the narration is achieved through the way in which Phelps speaks to himself when looking at clues and evidence; this is combined with the many sound effects that accompany your actions to confirm that you are doing the right or wrong thing. This however does give us enough of the backstory and enough about the characters for us to feel as if we know what is going on.

If however we were to look at a game with complete narration we could approach a game such as Bastion, a different kind of game but it uses a narrator who informs you about everything that occurs before and after the game.

 

Chris

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