Digital Games (FW2011 – Section 1)

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Exaggeration in Game Culture

Several video games elicit childlike and playful experiences that involve exaggerated movements and expressions. Various exaggerated features such as character movements, expressions and actions, provide viewers and players senses of comedy, possibility and nostalgia. These exaggerations reflect elements of expressionism, theatre acting and animation and are readapted into the game culture, which exemplify Sergei Eisenstein ‘s notion of Plasmaticness, the freedom to assume any form; freedom from ossification.

Video games such as Wario Ware and Rayman Raving Rabbids exemplify cute caricatures with exaggerated expressions and actions and engage players’ participation and movements. For example, the rabbits in Rayman Raving Rabbids all posses abnormally large mouths with two big front teeth and also exhibit childlike expressions of naivety and mischievousness. When the player character is in direct or indirect physical contact with the rabbits, they scream in an adorable way that produces giggles and laughter in users and viewers.  These sound effects and movements encourage players to continue their actions that induce these sounds. Not only the expressions, but also the actions that are asked of the players to act on the characters are also exaggerated. In Wario Ware, for example, players are often asked to do some exaggerated movements to get the characters on the screen to do the same movements: whether it is the speed with which someone run or dramatic waves that fan the monster away. These movements create a sense of limitlessness in which everything seems to be possible. Every little action counts.

    

The exaggerations that these characters exhibit resonates with several historical animation concepts and furthermore some aspects of the art movement expressionism. Animations often use exaggerations to convey meaning, humor and possibilities of action. These exaggerations help bring characters to life and it is a dominant style in snimatino. According to Eisenstien, the “plasmaticeness” in animation speaks of an utopian language, in which it class for freedom from ossification and “rejection of once and forever allotted form” (Miller, 2003).  The freedom of any form accentuates how animation can be anything and can convey any message it wishes to convey. Some video games communicate similar messages. For example, the above games consist of series of mini-games that ask players to learn the movements in a steep but also natural learning curve. Every individual mini-game produces humor, exaggerations on expressions, and bizarre movements. These are distorted and exaggerated realties in which expressionism is used for emotional effect.  However, whereas expressionist artists wish to capture their own emotional responses of the world around them, video games help provoke players’ emotions through these anti-naturalistic, dramatic but oddly cute caricatures.

The freedom of expression, the plasmaticness, and the humor that these caricatures carry assist this aspect of video game culture to reside in a ‘feel safe’ and seemingly fluid community.  This relaxed and childish state calls for a nostalgic sensation where cartoons were the world, the possibility of the impossible, and the fun. Video games conceive of these concepts and adapt exaggerations to allow players to interact with the caricatures in their exaggerated world. The exaggerations enhance the experience of playing and engage players to temporarily immerse in the placimaticness as the escaped real.

References

Miller, M. (2002).  Animation. The University of Chicago Theories of Media. Retrieved from <http://csmt.uchicago.edu/glossary2004/animation.htm>

Nintendo (2007). WarioWare: Smooth Moves.

Ubisoft Inc. (2006). Rayman Raving Rabbids.

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