Chapter 2

Chapter 2 of Galloway’s book is called “Origins of the First-Person Shooter,” but it got me thinking a lot more about perspective in general than how the first person perspective has been depicted over time.

On page 69, Galloway writes that, “what was predatory vision in the cinema is now simply ‘active’ vision.” Is this because games are more popular when gamers get to act as the predator, having complete control of a situation and everyone else in it? Is it because we don’t feel we have this power in real life?

I think that perspective is a factor that is often unnoticed, but that is incredibly useful in decoding what greater meaning the game is getting at. For the most part, the only games played from the third person point of view are competitive two-player games that make the opportunity to win equal for both players. A lot of single player games are played from the first person point of view so that the gamer feels in control. It is important to note that while this is now only “active” vision it was once described as being “predatory.”

Should there be more single player games that can only be played from the third person? Could this make children playing violent videogames less aggressive in real life, or would they still exhibit the same behavior playing from the third person point of view as from the first person?


2 thoughts on “Chapter 2”

  1. The reason for the prevalence of the first person perspetive in gaming and the lack thereof in film is in part a difference in purpose between the two mediums. In film we are meant to emotionally identify with characters; we see them as their own seperate individuals with unique expertiences, that we identify with in order to understand their motivations. Meanwhile in gaming we are meant to become the characters; their motivations are our motivations, their purpose is our purpose. The difference is important when it comes to perspetive. It is hard to emotionally identify with a character that we don’t see, and so the first person perspective does little to get us in the mind of a character in film and make them relatable. But in video games we are the mind of the character; we make the character’s decisions, we take on the characters motivations, so there is no need for us to emotionally identify with the character through visuals. By playing, we put ourselves in the prioveledged position to the character.

    In gaming the first person perspective is more popular because it gives the most unmediated connection between the player and the character. The player is not reminded that they are only operating an avatar that exists within the game, by seeing the character on screen, and so they can further immerse themselves in the idea that they are the thing performing the actions on screen. That this is referred to as predatory I think has less to do with the first person games encouraging a predatory nature, and more to do with how this perspetive was commonly used in film (‘Jaws’ of course is an excellent example of such a usage). Some games with first person perspectives are not predatory at all; “Among The Sleep” for instance puts a player in the first person perspective of a toddler, who commits no violent act in the duration of the game.

    Below is an article on the appeal of first person shooters. It is telling that they ascribe ‘flow’, a psychological state of happiness, to such games, and I think this is precisely because a player is better enabled to immerse themselves in first person shooters, because of the lack of mediation between them and the character.

  2. I suppose first person is meant to mimic real life vision. It does make gameplay more visceral and immersive. Many games give you the option of “over the shoulder,” where you see yourself. Do you think that makes a difference?

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