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I've run into a couple things lately that gave me a half-formed thought about fanfiction.

First, I  ran across a bunch of comments on some random site where Anons were discussing RPGs (I will never get used to that term in reference to video games). The discussion went something like this:
A: I don't like Final Fantasy [#], it's too linear
B: Those are JRPGs (Japanese), which are more linear than WRPGS (western). They tell stories. Both have merit.
A: I don't like story-centric RPGs.
B: I do like story-centric RPGs.
C: Isn't it a shame how RPGs have been differentiated between JRPGs and WRPGs?

Second, I was reading owlmoose 's "Exchange" fic about Balthier and Vaan.

In trying to articulate what I liked about it, I started to say that she treats the characters as characters within stories, rather than as characters within games.
 
I'm not sure if that comment makes sense. What I'm trying to get at is the different ways people approach games.


I remember back in the day a discussion by the original creators of MYST, that they were catering to two different gamer audiences: explorers (who love strange, new worlds, new civilizations) and puzzle-solvers.

I'm seeing some trends here. Playing video games for entertainment: killing monsters, solving puzzles, leveling up, "beating" the game. Playing games as roles: Cloud, Rinoa, Zidane, etc: personas to slip into or interact with virtually. Then there's playing games as stories.

Most of us do all of the above, I'd wager.

I'm stating the obvious here, to the point that I'm about ready to delete the post. But:

There is the "favorite character" syndrome, which relates to playing games as characters: Cloud, Rinoa, Zidane, etc. Which was the most fun to play? Whose lines did you like the most? Who was the most useful to the party? Which one caught your eye? 

Separate from that is the game as a story. Through that lens, all the characters are parts of the whole. Each has a part to play, and they're connected to the total enjoyment/experience.

I'd think this would map exactly to shipfic and genfic, but I don't think it does. It's a different perspective.

The first perspective can cause fanfic authors to denigrate/distort/excise the characters/things they don't like. (E.g Lulu's Moogle almost never shows up in my stories, and when it does, I'm mean to it.)  "Rival" characters to ships may get shredded.

The second perspective can appear even in shipfic, if you're focusing on a few characters, as long as you embed them in context. The other characters also matter; they're just not getting the spotlight in this particular piece.
 

Comments

( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
owlmoose
Feb. 20th, 2010 09:17 pm (UTC)
Actually, I don't think is obvious at all, and I do find it a really interesting perspective. You have something here, with the distinction between "I want to write about the characters I like" and "I want to tell a story about this world/these characters". I think most fan writers operate in both modes at varying times -- I know I switch between them, although I think I tend more toward the second perspective most of the time. In general, I agree with you that there isn't an absolute mapping between 'ship fic and gen fic, but I would say that there's a tendency for them to map that way. Not only is there story-oriented 'shipping fic, I've also seen (and written!) character-based gen.

Good thinky thoughts; I will have to ponder them more later.
auronlu
Feb. 21st, 2010 03:37 am (UTC)
I think most of us do both -- "I want to write about the characters I like" and "I want to tell a story about this world/these characters."

It's a spectrum. I just hadn't quite realized before that they really are different ways to write, and that they are to some extent (maybe) hooked into how one plays/views/experiences the game.

I'm not entirely sure I'm right or that these distinctions work, but...well. Thinky thoughts.
samuraiter
Feb. 21st, 2010 02:39 am (UTC)
*ponders*

I have a thought about this, but I cannot quite articulate it. (Might be too late at night for me.) Suffice to say that I agree with what you say.
trekqueen
Feb. 21st, 2010 02:51 am (UTC)
I get at what you mean with the whole game vs story way of characters and also enjoying a game. I was trying to see how I would accomplish that when I started writing my more in-depth/longer stories of FFX beyond my one shots and ficlets. I had read some FFX stories where people wrote it like the game where someone jumps in, takes a turn in battle, gets some points, gets bashed, etc... it all just seemed so mechanical. But with your stories and what I tried to accomplish is to tell a story as the characters are experiencing like people. I kept in mind LOTR and how they had their little side quests and deviations from the main mission of destroying Mordor/Sauron, which would be like dealing with Saruman or helping Rohan. Some orcs will jump in to waylay our heroes on their travels and our characters would get hurt/captured/killed what have you... same goes for our peeps in FFX.

hope that makes sense. :D
euphonious_glow
Feb. 21st, 2010 04:24 am (UTC)
I appreciate RPGs in a lot of different ways. I enjoy the discovery/exploration of new worlds (yay Myst!), of which Spira and the FF12 world are my favorites for FF. I like theorizing about the cultural dynamics and belief systems of such places in my fic ie. Al Bhed society, the Aeons/Espers. I like understanding the mythology of the world as a whole. I'm fascinated by Baaj temple, the ruins throughout Spira, the politics of FF12.

My interest in characters is complex. Some I like and can relate to, others I may not exactly like but I enjoy writing as a way to understand them, some I appreciate for their character growth and development despite deep flaws. I also really like relationships: whether familial, friendship, or romantic/sexual (and often combinations and gray areas between them). I can appreciate a well-developed character who may not be as likable, and I may get bored with a character who is nice but too perfect. I enjoy complexity and dynamic characterization far more than simple likability.
heavenscalyx
Feb. 21st, 2010 02:50 pm (UTC)
All I can think of when I think of the difference between western RPGs and Japanese RPGs is that the Japanese are more interested in making things pretty. Until I found Fable and Fable 2, in fact, my assumption was that any western-made RPG was going to be butt-ugly, with empty rooms and repetitive textures and more work going into monster design than the world.

I much prefer having a story to work with. It's like reading a novel I have a little control over. And I want my games to not have hideously difficult "best endings" so I can see them all if I want, without having to have perfected some fighting combination that's the only way to beat the end boss.

I like my games to have decent stories with decent characters, the same way I want my novels to have decent stories with decent characters. If the characters are likeable and engrossing, the details can often be handwaved.

I think your observations about the potential difference between shipfic and genfic is valid. Certainly, almost all of my fic is shipfic in one way or another.

And here I will cease to blather.
auronlu
Feb. 21st, 2010 07:53 pm (UTC)
It is not blather, and sometime I really need to pick your brain for best games instead of sticking to the same tiny handful. Fable, eh?

I definitely am spoiled to the pretty.

And augh, you are so right about games where large chunks of story aren't available unless you do hours of level grinding and impossible beat-Nemesis-and-Yiazmat-and-oh-yeah-Sephiroth-in-KH2-battles.
leasspell_dael
Feb. 21st, 2010 03:33 pm (UTC)
I've been involved in this kind of discussion lots of times before. I tend to primarily play the games for the story. I have a friend who primarily plays them for the gameplay. We've had a long-standing (but friendly) disagreement over FF6: it's my favourite, and his least favourite. He's recently started playing it again, but is paying attention to the story this time, and says it's making a big difference. XD

I'd never thought of your point of people playing as roles versus playing for te story before though. That's a really interesting idea, and makes the character bashing in many fics make a lot more sense to me.

I'm glad you didn't delete this post, because it sets out nice and concisely not only ideas I had known but not known how to really express, but also things I hadn't even thought about!
auronlu
Feb. 21st, 2010 07:48 pm (UTC)
Yeah, character bashing is one thing that crystallized this thought.

In particular, the whole Cloud/Aeris vs. Cloud/Tifa war has never made a lick of sense to me. It's the absolutely classic, even clichéd pattern of a love triangle, and they all need to be in the story, or it's less interesting! The interactions between Aerith and Tifa in Don Corneo's mansion and Tifa's "Let's go see her" are as important, to me, as Cloud wangsting over Aerith and being Tifa's blockheaded on-again off-again boyfriend.

But if players are identifying with Aerith or Tifa and "want" Cloud, the bashing of the other corner of the triangle suddenly makes some sense.
twistedpandao_o
Feb. 21st, 2010 03:54 pm (UTC)
I <3 games! They are awesome, lolz.
I love playing random shooters with no characters and no story, but I love story lines even more.
In my opinion, unless it's a puzzle solver or a simple strategy game, it doesn't have to have a story line.

But dude, I wouldn't play as many games like Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts if there weren't individual characters.
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