Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Writin' Nerdy.

So, yeah.

As the title implies, I'm feeling kinda nerdy this morning- mostly due to the fact that I actually wrote an in-depth literary analysis of a video-game. Yes, you heard me correctly... a video-game.

(You're probably thinking, oh no, she didn't. But I did, and I still can't believe I went there).

For those of you not familiar with the game: Wizard101 is an all-ages RPG, in which wizards of all ages learn powerful spells and battle enemies (or each other, if PvP is your thing) in turn-based combat. If Harry Potter and Yu-Gi-Oh had a love-child, this would totally be it.

In the tutorial zone, you meet the game's primary bad-guy, Malistaire Drake- he's a former professor of the Ravenwood School of Magical Arts, who's trying to steal the Krokonomicon (which, in case it's not obvious, is the Necronomicon), in order to control life and death. Around level 12, the player learns that Malistaire's wife, Sylvia (also a former Ravenwood teacher), died of a nasty cold some years ago, and that the Krokonomicon is the only way he can bring her back to life.

(Not sure that's romantic or not, but hey... the sentiment is there, right?)

Unfortunately, the whole process involves awakening a rather-large and angry dragon, with potentially-disastrous results; the player then embarks on a series of quests, in order to recover the Krokonomicon and prevent the destruction of... well, everything. The arc culminates with Malistaire and the player(s) facing off in combat; upon defeat, he is reunited with Sylvia in death, and you receive a crap-ton of rewards from the Headmaster. Even if it didn't quite go as planned, all's well that ends well.

(Quite romantic, actually, if you're willing to ignore the whole angry-dragon-let's-kill-everyone thing. But I digress.)

After that, the Headmaster sends players to yet another new world, in pursuit of a new baddie... Her name is Morganthe, and she's this cool-looking goth chick with spiderweb wings and a closet to die for! Unfortunately, her character lacks any sort of personality or motivation thus far, which has drawn the ire of a number of players, as is implied in the comment below:

[name redacted] wrote:"Storyline is getting worse? I find this hard to believe. It's even the same as Malistaire: An evil Wizard wants to conquer/destroy Spiral. It's up to you, the Wizard, the Champion of Ravenwood, to put an end to their doings! You must battle them and their henchmen across many worlds before you reach them! But, do you have what it takes to best this mighty foe?"
Being the avid reader/writer that I am, I disagree... and here's why:

"Good vs. evil (world domination, especially) is one of the most cliché plot devices ever. It's been overdone, burnt to a crisp, and cooked for 15 minutes more, a zillion times; the premise is the same, but the difference between a great story and a just-okay one lies in characterization.

The Malistaire arc was extremely well-written, and so beautiful in its twistedness. He didn't want to take over the Spiral, so much as he wanted Sylvia back- that alone made him so much more than the average, cookie-cutter Disney villain; in fact, I hesitate to use the word villain at all, because I don't think he was one.

Grief and anger are selfish, and very human, emotions- the line between what's right and wrong becomes blurred, and the little details (the Dragon Titan destroying the Spiral) get lost in the big picture (bringing Sylvia back). So, while he thought he was doing the right thing, he wasn't completely aware of the consequences... and who doesn't have blinders on, when it comes to love? As a "reader", I was emotionally-invested in the story and the characters; like a brilliant novel, I didn't want it to end.

On the other hand, Morganthe is just an outline, a sketch of a character with the potential to be awesome, but who has failed to deliver thus far. I haven't bonded with her at all, because I don't know what her motivations are- why is she "evil", or is she? What are her reasons, for doing things the way she does? Right now, it's just a big guessing-game... and not in a good way."

(Fellow writers, take note- there is such a thing as leaving too much to the imagination).


I may be reading (bad pun intended) too much into this. So I'm gonna go and play my game now... enjoy it for the fluff that it is,  and stop conducting literary analyses in the forums.

*slinks away and puts on wizard-hat*

Until death do us part (or not),
El Veeb

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