Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Sometimes, There is Nothing You Can Do

I am reading The Lord of the Rings again. It is my favorite book. I love the fantastical setting, the characters, its story and lore. It is not a really deep book, if I may say. It is a black and white tale of evil VS good, where the characters are either flawless good (with one exception) or completely evil (with one exception). And as the story goes on, you start loving certain characters and hating others. You start to desire to be there, helping some and punishing others. But you can't. There is nothing you can do about it.

And that is OK. What fun do you have about a story where everything that happens is exactly what you want to. There is no surprises if it is you that determinate who lives, who dies. There is no expectations, as everything is going the way you want. Why read a book that you already know everything that is to be said?

This goes to games too. Why make an story if the player have complete control about what happens next? Just give them some gameplay and let the player come with a story in their heads, like many old games of the 80s. Because what good is a story if the player say to himself 'OK, now I want to be betrayed by that character, because that is what I expect'. How this betrayal will fall over the player if he knew all along that he was going to be betrayed, know the betrayer and how he would be betrayed?

There is no point telling a story if the reader/viewer/player know exactly what to expect. If they have the story in his mind, why go to the trouble?

I understand that since you are the one making several choices all along, you want these choices to have reflexes in the world. But here is a thing, sometimes making a choice does not mean that the desired outcome will happen. If you buy a lottery ticket, you choose to have a chance to win the prize. It may happen. But it is likely to not. It is beyond your power to choose the outcome of your ticket. You can just choose buying it or not.

Even in a minor sphere, the power your choices have in determining certain outcomes is restricted. If you go to a bar and see someone you like and decide to flirt with her, imagining that you will date, marry and have kids, it does not mean that will be the outcome your choice gives you.  many things beyond your control can happen. This person can day the next day. You two may discover that you don't love each other. Maybe you will never have kids. All beyond control.

Demanding complete control over your life is impossible. Nobody have it. Nobody can give it to you. You can dislike it, you can say how much you dislike it. But demanding life itself do everything to please you is too much. The same goes for books, movies and games.

Many people disliked the end of Mass Effect 3. But how about the ones who liked? They don't have this right? So, to please a few one must ignore everyone else's desires? Back to the Lord of the Rings, if someone had asked me about changing the story, and I did it, I could end with a tale to my pleasure, but in the process, everyone who loved the book as it is would hate me. And them demand the book to be left as it is. Or worse. Demanding that everyone receive their very own personal copy with the story unfolding as they wish. And them killing completely the book and any kind of story and message the creator intended to be.

Sometimes we just can't have what we want. Growing up is in part accepting those limits and trying to cope the best way we could. You can dislike it as much as you want, but somethings can't be changed. And other things shouldn't be changed.

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