Super Effective
Created Wednesday, March 4, 2009 | Added Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

If I remember correctly, the assignment for this project was to record some kind of “performance.”  I also think audio was supposed to be a technical point of focus.  Regardless, I can tell you what I did.  For this project, I sat down with a bunch of my friends and played video games.  It was awesome.  Aside from that though, we talked about different gaming-related memories we had while we were playing.  I wanted to try to achieve a stream of consciousness-type conversation about these memories.  Often times, when people are playing games (especially when they’re really focused on it), it’s hard to multitask, in this case it was hard to game and have a conversation at the same time.  I wanted to conversation to both flow naturally from one topic to another as well as have random interjections reacting to what was happening onscreen while we were playing.

Originally, I wanted us to play (and have me record us playing) a bunch of different games.  However, due to technical difficulties (incompatible TVs, video cameras, and cables…), our options became limited.  I decided that we should just play Ocarina of Time, since that was a game that we had all played extensively, but we could still talk about other games.  In the video, only one of my friends is actually playing OoT while the rest of us are watching.  I decided to do this because he had always had an extremely difficult time with the part of the game he was at (he may have never even gotten past it previously, I don’t remember…), so I figured this would allow him to concentrate on the game as well as allow the rest of us chances to help advise him along the way (playing into the interjections I wanted to have present).

So, in addition to the video footage of Ocarina of Time and the audio of our conversation, I also included text at the bottom of the screen.  If I remember correctly, this was in response to a suggestion (I suppose from my teacher) to include some sort of way for non-gaming savvy viewers to follow the video’s conversation.  The text gives general facts about the games being talked about as well as clues as to why specific moments or games are so memorable to my friends and me.

I don’t remember when exactly during the process of making this project I wrote this (obviously it’s before I started shooting), but here’s one of my original descriptions of my idea:

So what I’ve done is I’ve asked a lot of my friends to describe to me personally important moments in gaming for them. Some of them have been moments that are narrative-based, some are accomplishment-based, some are relationship-based (both with characters and real people). I’ve got a few different ideas of what I could do with these. My original idea was to have gameplay footage of a game playing as the video while my friends and I play it (I’m not sure how many of us would be playing at the same time; it could be just one friend and myself, three friends and myself, or maybe some aren’t playing the game, but they’re still part of the audio), and we talk about these different experiences in a stream-of-consciousness manner. So, for example, we start talking we’re playing Super Smash Brothers Brawl, a Wii game, and one of us chooses Pikachu as a character. Because of this, we start talking about our memories of the Pokemon games (it’s addictiveness, how it was somewhat of a fad in middle school, how it felt like such an accomplishment to reach the final bosses after so tens/hundreds of hours of play), then perhaps from there we move onto Ninja Gaiden, an Xbox game, and we talk about how incredibly difficult that game was, how it brought out the worst in us because it was so frustratingly difficult, yet we kept on playing it, etc, etc.

Now, on thinking about this, I wasn’t sure if I would change the video game being shown on screen. For example, I thought about showing the games that we’re talking about. But that kind of disrupts the sitting down, just talking stream-of-consciousness feel that I’d like to be present. If just one game is being shown (a game that we’re playing while talking), I think it would feel more real as an actual conversation.

I also thought that perhaps during this conversation, we could decide to play another game. For example, we’re talking and playing Super Smash Bros., then after a few matches we decide to pop in another game (the video would show this process as seen by the TV, so you’d see us go back to the system menu, eject the disc, put in another disc, and start the new game). Or perhaps a one of our cell phones ring and it’s another friend who wants to play an online game with us, say for example Halo 3. I kind of like this idea of playing the game with someone else in the room as well as someone online. In most online games, you can talk to other players with headphones. I’d be able to get the audio from the online friend as well and use that in the conversation too. So say, we end up playing Halo 3 with a friend online. We say hi, and then tell him what we were just talking about. This new person is then a third member of this stream-of-consciousness conversation.

So those were some ideas about dealing with changing video (if, in the end, it does change).

Another idea for dealing with these responses I’ve got is to do (in my mind) something similar to Waking Life. I would have each person who’s given me a response explain these responses to me in person while I recorded them. So I could go about this a few different ways. I could have the person sit down and have the camera focused on them while they talked about these experiences they’ve had, cutting to another person when the previous one finishes their thoughts. I could do this same thing, but show the gameplay from the game that that person is talking about (could be any gameplay or I could have them play the game while they talk about it). For a lot of these responses, I’ve been asking questions during these conversations such as, “Why was that your favorite part?” or, “Did you feel this with any other game?” for example. So I could do sit down and interview-type video where it would show either just the person (I would be behind the camera) or show both of us while we discussed these memories. Or I could do it by showing the video game gameplay while we talk.

With this, I would go from individual to individual talking with them/recording them talking about their memories.

I could also include some of the conversations I’ve had online, for example, one was over iChat. So my friend and I could, in essence, reenact the conversation while I recorded the screen. The audio here I think would be just the sounds of the computer (typing, message sent sound, message received sound, etc.).

*(or video chat)*

I’m very interested in these memories because they’ve affected these people personally in many different ways. While I was talking to one of my friends, he pointed out that these kinds of reactions can be seen in many other types of media (film, novel, music), so why talk about video games? I think that many times, video games are overlooked as just a niche culture that doesn’t mean much to culture or society as a whole. Thinking this way, many people would be surprised as to the extent that people can/have been moved by games (the same extent as the other media types can move someone, perhaps moreso). And so I’m very interested in this personal connection/affection people can form with games, whether they be connections with characters, a personal realization that a game has taken over your life, the feeling like you’re part of something bigger than yourself, etc.

Personally, I’m more drawn to the first idea I gave (about sitting down and playing games while we talk about these things) because of its nonchalant, unrehearsed, every day conversational feel. I also think that this kind of situation (playing a game, only half paying attention to what’s going on around you) is prime for a stream of consciousness conversation. I’d like to add that while this conversation is going on, we would also be reacting to the game; so for example, if one of us dies, we would say, “DAMMIT!” or some kind of natural response that would be present as if we were not being filmed. I think this as well adds to the everyday feel.