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Emotionally Stimulating vs. Intellectually Stimulating


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#1 Showsni

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Posted 10 June 2012 - 05:18 PM

From the Big Trees topic:

Anyway, that aside, Zelda's storytelling can be emotionally stimulating, which is always more important than intellectual stimulation each and every single time.



I think I disagree with every point in this sentence.


Okay, it's kind of dead in here, so let's try and start a discussion. Who do you agree with? Is it more important for a game to make you feel something, or is it more important for a game to make you think?

And how well do the various Zelda games do either task? Where in the series were your heartstrings tugged? Where was your brain overheated? If anywhere!


#2 Snow

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Posted 11 June 2012 - 02:11 AM

For a Zelda game, emotional stimulation is definitely more important. After all, the whole series is like a classic fairy tale and fairy tales have always been much stronger in the emotional department than the intellectual. The plot doesn't have to be downright stupid, but the level on which it is right now is enough. Of course, there's always room for improvement, but I find that most recent Zelda games have been quite satisfying in terms of story.

#3 MikePetersSucks

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Posted 11 June 2012 - 03:16 AM

I'll copypasta my response from the other thread.

I'm not sure I can help you there, then. If you don't hold emotional investment to be stimulating, then your standards of creative expression as a whole are fundamentally different from mine. All fiction, art, music, and creative expression serves to make people feel something, and only a portion go to the next level of providing intellectual stimulation. And those that are intellectually stimulating without being emotionally stimulating are usually treated as being 'pretentious'.



#4 Crimson Lego

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Posted 11 June 2012 - 09:28 AM

Agreed with Snow; in TP, I liked how Midna went from an exiled ruler willing to do anything to get back on top of the throne to somebody who genuinely cared for both the Twilight and Light Realms, and in turn, Link and Zelda. I almost cried at the end where she made the decision to fully cut her people off from Hyrule to prevent further disasters like Zant's invasion from happening again.

So yeah, emotionally stimulating.

EDIT: Also in Wind Waker where the entire thing starts off when Link sets out to save his sister from the Helmaroc King.

Edited by Young Leo, 11 June 2012 - 05:12 PM.


#5 JRPomazon

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Posted 13 June 2012 - 02:00 AM

Both forms of stimulation are important in a game like Zelda. You need to use your head to beat this game, it poses numerous amount of challenges to the player although at times it has the tendency to become slightly monotonous. But it's not like you are walking down a hallway or anything. You go into a dungeon or temple, you are fighting for your life and considering every and all possible methods available to you to kill your enemies and conquer obstacles. New areas bring new challenges, the difficulty changes and evolves to let the player become stronger him/herself. That is how Zelda stimulates intellect.

The older titles focus less on emotion or story and more on the task at hand. When a Nintendo character is mute it gives you, the player, the chance to fill that blank slate with the emotions and thoughts you may be feeling. "Damn, this guy is tough!" "Where is the next item?" "I'm coming Zelda, don't worry!" You don't think of yourself as Link, you think of the character as you.

But as the games progressed over the years and technology began to develop the possibility to tell a more vivid and visual story arose and Zelda took plenty of advantage of this. This is where they began to play with the heartstrings with Emotional stimulation. It's not just Link traveling the overworld and killing monsters. Now there are more diverse areas and characters to sorta feel something for. The failure to save Zelda and the renewed determination to save her and the other maidens in the Dark World in aLttP, the bittersweet finale to Link's Awakening, waking up seven years later in OoT, meeting the doomed people of Termina in MM, all of this was possible because Nintendo didn't just want you to wander aimlessly and solve puzzles. They wanted to give the player a heart for the game he or she was playing with the same kind of challenges as before.

However, it was sometime after Majora's Mask that the emotional stimulation sorta began to get more . . . dramatic. To the point where it felt like it became more of the focus in the game rather than the puzzles and challenges. But by this point, it felt like they just threw a gimmick in the game to make it seem different from the others, as though being on a Boat or Train, turning into a wolf or flying a massive bird to sky dive off was going to change everything and distract us from the fact that the same puzzles are being rehashed somewhere else. But oh look! Zelda's in danger in this cut scene! Emotions! ALL THE EMOTIONS! I will admit that the mechanics and puzzles in newer titles Skyward Sword utilized the technology available at the time very well, using the depth offered by the graphics to add multiple dimensions to the challenges that lie ahead. But even still, it still felt like they were reinventing the wheel with the same old arrow-eye switches and bomb weak walls.

But which one is more important than the other? Which one does a game need to be a great game and which one could it do without if it needed to? If I were to pick, I guess that even despite my hatred of gimmick features in the games the emotional stimulation is what I keep killing Dodongos for. Because despite whatever puzzles the game presents the point of the game is to save the princess and the kingdom/island/world(s). And feeling that you are the character that has the sole duty to save these characters from certain doom and experiencing that plight by interacting with this world is what players come back for. To reach out and pull out the Master Sword and feel as though you had gained such an amazing power.

However, I remain certain that it is imperative that the Zelda series NEVER outright abandons the allure of the puzzles and challenges. Because those difficulties make for a unique experience. And even though many of them are rehashed from time to time, they still remain "Zelda puzzles", as they are just a part of the experience as anything else. In a way, the puzzles and intellectual challenges sorta have a way to become emotionally stimulating themselves as you are going through them and accomplishing them.

#6 Snow

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Posted 13 June 2012 - 05:09 AM

Ah, I thought the discussion was about intellectual stimulation in the narrative, not the gameplay. I definitely agree that puzzles are a very important aspect of Zelda games, though; I consider them to be more important than a compelling story.

With that said, I don't really agree that recent Zelda games have become worse in the puzzle department lately. PH, ST and SS have some of the best puzzles in the series, along with OoX and possibly LA. In fact, I'd say that almost every instalment has improved from the previous one in that aspect (although the early 3D games were a bit of a low point due to the added dimension).

#7 Egann

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Posted 13 June 2012 - 10:55 AM

Let me throw this out there; any story which fails to be *both* intellectually and emotionally stimulating is at least a half-failure. Intellectually stimulating means that there's an idea involved which is, for lack of a better word, infectious. It means that the idea is so memorable and stimulating, that you remember it.

That's great for sidequests, but the core of the story had better be the characters because they're the ones players will get invested in and they are the common elements of all the story. If all you've got is intellectually stimulating ideas, some of the sidequests will fall flat by personal taste and the game will become an iffy grind.

I'll be honest; zelda games have hideous character development. They stay afloat by carefully monitoring the sidequests and dungeons for things the Zelda fan won't like, but when it comes to emotionally investing the player they're...actually pretty bad. And this pretty much boils down to Link in most situations, and the following three options.

Yes
No
......


I really hate the fact that Link is perpetually silent. The only time we've seen a decent slice of Link's personality was in Majora's Mask, where the sidequests had him helping people even though turning back time would undo whatever he had just done. A lot of people will help other people; not many would do it when it wouldn't help in the long run, and only a very few would when they themselves were under a time restriction.

And yet, because Link is so quiet we never got a proper explanation for his actions. Is he selfish and just likes to glow in the spotlight of being a hero? Probably not. But he could be doing it out of habit, or it could be a coping mechanism from stepping out of time the way he had. Whatever the explanation, we didn't see it. The idea of being caught in the Groundhog Day time loop was what sold the game. Emotional investment comes as an afterthought.

#8 MikePetersSucks

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Posted 13 June 2012 - 03:12 PM

Ah, I thought the discussion was about intellectual stimulation in the narrative, not the gameplay.


It is. I think JRPomazon misread something.

#9 JRPomazon

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Posted 14 June 2012 - 12:06 AM

Ah, I thought the discussion was about intellectual stimulation in the narrative, not the gameplay.


It is. I think JRPomazon misread something.


Hmm, well this is embarrassing. Let me rephrase a new response:

As emotional responses are pretty common place for a variety of media, there aren't a lot of things to try and make you think. Every time someone cranks out something that is supposed to be thought provoking it's taken by the masses as pretentious and tossed aside. So something that makes you think that doesn't come off as pretentious is a rare occurrence, at least for me. But to quote an earlier response:

Let me throw this out there; any story which fails to be *both* intellectually and emotionally stimulating is at least a half-failure. Intellectually stimulating means that there's an idea involved which is, for lack of a better word, infectious. It means that the idea is so memorable and stimulating, that you remember it.


I think emotional stimulation is very important for a game like Zelda, to feel like the hero and to have your accomplishments feel gratifying. But with games like Link's Awakening, you begin to think through what it is you are doing. The impact of what you are doing (waking a sleeping deity and shattering an entire reality in the process). The perfect scenario would be something that hits you emotionally and follows up with a "what have we learned today" sensation.

#10 MikePetersSucks

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Posted 14 June 2012 - 01:57 AM

I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that Link's Awakening is the only game where intellectual stimulation is even remotely relevant to the plot. It's the only game where the actions of the hero, the nature of his quest, or the motivations of his enemies are controversial and debateable. The next best thing is Ganondorf's little speech from Wind Waker, but despite his pretty words we all know he was gonna turn the place into a hellhole with him as the king.

#11 Showsni

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Posted 15 June 2012 - 02:53 PM

Ah, I thought the discussion was about intellectual stimulation in the narrative, not the gameplay.


It is. I think JRPomazon misread something.


Well, I'd say it can be about both. After all, these are games. If we just wanted a story, we could read a book. Playing a video game is pretty much a unique medium in the way it can get the audience involved. Maybe we can look at the two sides seperately:

The story in the game - is it emotionally stimulating? Is it intellectually stimulating?

The gameplay in the game - is it emotionally stimulating? Is it intellectually stimulating?

And are these two tied together?

The stories in most of the games, it's true, don't make you think all that hard. "Go and save the princess!" from the first game is probably one of the simplest video game stories there is. How the storties tie together is one of the biggest intellectual stimulations we seem to have got out of the series - for reference, see all the articles and threads on the Zelda storyline. I guess that's intellectual stimulation for you - dropping the seeds of the game, and letting the fans think about how they connect together, how exactly time travel works, whether Sheik is physically female (or whatever we ended up discussing for pages and pages) and so on.

Emotionally - yeah, some of the games can tug on the heartstrings a little with their story. The ending of Link's Awakening... Most of Majora's Mask... and so on. I probably didn't feel that as musch with the older games. I guess it's harder to get emotionally invested when you're concentrating more on how to avoid Moas or whatever. Is this something that becomes easier as hardware advancements allow you to cram more story into the game? Or did you get the same emotions from reading the old manuals?

Now, gameplay wise. (And not just gameplay - I guess I'm talking all non story elements here.) Zelda has always contained puzzles, but they're not anything super difficult. Pushing blocks around is a nice diversion for a time... Working out what a boss' weakness is... Bombing a cracked wall... It's pretty standard for the series. Some of the older games seemed less hand holdy, though. A helper character telling you were to go removes the need to map out the overworld by hand so you can work out where on earth the second dungeon is. But I think we're all fairly glad the clues are less cryptic than "THERE'S A SECRET IN THE TIP OF THE NOSE".

And how does the game add to the emotional impact? Well, just consider the music... The visuals... the ambience. When you're in a pitch black cave and suddenly a keese swoops down and attacks, or you get a sweeping panoramic view of Outset Island with cheerful music playing, it can all add to the emotions.


#12 SOAP

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Posted 30 June 2012 - 03:51 AM

I'd say both are important but if I had to pick, I'd go with emotionally stimulating, considering it's a game and games are forms of entertainment, first foremost. It's perfectly okay if a game doesn't help make my brain run faster or provide some life-changing form of enlightenment. It just has to make sense.

Also, @Egann. I agree that Link's character is very underdeveloped (some might say that's part of the charm but I'm not quite convinced about that anymore myself), but I don't think we need Link to talk to connect with him emotional. Not that I'd be against players having more of a choice between yes and no. Wall-E never says much more than Eve-Ah in the movie Wall-E but it's easy to connect to the little robot just by his behavior. If anything, Link needs to emote more. OoT/MM Link was mostly emotionless but there were few scenes of actual humanity that popped up like the Goron hugging scene. WW Link was a good start. TP Link emoted a little too but it wasn't as noticeable. SS Link I didn't really see as much emotions except in a few scenes. He was basically TP Link, only more of airhead at the start. I think they should stick with kid Link. They seem to be better at making child characters emote whereas adult Links either seem to only be shocked, angry, or serious.

#13 MikePetersSucks

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Posted 30 June 2012 - 02:11 PM

I actually sort of agree. In my opinion, the younger Links have always been the most memorable, likeable, unique, and true to the spirit of the series. All the adult Links kind of run together into an immemorable, generic hero archetype.'

Honestly, art style aside, I can't fucking tell OOT, TP, and SS Links apart from each other.

But, you know, now that adult Link is here, there's no getting rid of him. Fans'll bitch like woaaaaaaaaah.

#14 Masamune

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Posted 01 July 2012 - 12:25 AM

It depends. For instance, the TWW Style Link has end up rehashed in every handheld game since he showed up, from The Minish Cap to Spirit Tracks to Four Swords. I don't really tend to give much though to there being any difference to those different Links.

Edited by Masamune, 01 July 2012 - 12:26 AM.


#15 SOAP

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Posted 01 July 2012 - 06:55 AM

The first appearance of Toon Link appearance was still a much more emotionally captivating character than any of the adult Links. My original point was that Link doesn't necessarily need to talk in order for players to connect with him on an emotional level. I wouldn't mind if he did but that not what I think the issue is as far as Link's character development goes.

#16 Fin

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Posted 01 July 2012 - 08:21 AM

for me mute characters work best when the story is mostly told through atmosphere and in-game events, with little actual character interaction. i have a much easier time projecting myself onto samus aran than, say, gordon freeman. samus basically just runs around in a lonely environment, so it's pretty simple to imagine that she's reacting to things precisely as i am. freeman, on the other hand, is surrounded by well-rounded npcs, who constantly talk at him. since i have no ability to respond to what they're saying, those scenes put a wall between me and gordon, making me think of him as his own character rather than my avatar in this world. and because he's designed as a blank slate, i think of him as a dull, dull person.

to take this back to zelda, i find it easier to think of link as my avatar in the older games, but as the series started fleshing out the plots and characters link's muteness became more of a barrier. wind waker is exceptional for the reasons people have mentioned above -- despite being mute, toon link has boatloads of personality. by making him so expressive i found it easier to think of him as having a personality, although this still loses the blank slate thing the earlier games had going for them.

so basically, i think if nintendo want to keep telling the kind of zelda stories they have for the last few years, they need to present a character with more personality, a la toon link, or give us some say in how he responds to situations, like a wrpg (though ideally less in-depth -- i like wrpgs, but i don't want zelda to become one.) alternatively, go back to minimal character interaction and lore exposition, and just focus on giving us atmospheric worlds to explore. i'd actually love to see zelda taken in this direction, but it's not very likely.


anyway, i don't really have much to add with regard to the main topic of this thread. i was hoping stevet would chime in, since i was pretty much agreeing with him in the earlier discussion right up until he disagreed with mps' point quoted in the original post here.

Edited by Fin, 01 July 2012 - 08:25 AM.