On Loving the World-Building a Franchise, or Video Game, Creates

Currently sitting on my games shelf is “The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim,” and it has been there since the game first came out something like four years ago. Normally, I’m not that way about titles. I beat a game and then I hide it away, never to be seen again. Not “Skyrim,” and in no small part because, as I may have said previously, I simply do not want to beat it.

Every time I see the game, it gets me thinking about what lies beyond what I have accomplished in it. How much more is there that I could do? Sure, I may have put in more than 100 hours (well more), but there are moments when I feel I have barely scratched the surface. There are few games I love like that, “Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag” being the most recent of them (what a let down “Unity” was after that).

Now, I don’t actually come here to talk about games today, but rather about, broadly, getting immersed in a world. Yesterday I wrote about how I don’t mind film sequels, and hopefully you already know that I love serialized television, and that all ties together, even if a particular game isn’t a part of a larger universe. The more time you spend somewhere, even a fictionalized somewhere spread out over many a movie, the better you get to know it, and if it intrigued you initially you’re more likely to let some issues slide.

There is a new “Terminator” coming out this summer, “Terminator: Genisys,” and I can tell you that I’m incredibly excited to watch it. Maybe I shouldn’t be, maybe “Terminator: Salvation” should have convinced me that there should be no more “Terminator” movies, but it didn’t and I am. I don’t base any of this off my visit to the set of the film (you can read that report elsewhere), it’s the simple notion of revisiting a franchise which I love and I feel the same way about the upcoming “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” as well.

Even when you hit a lesser entry in a movie franchise (“Salvation”) or a worse season of a television show (I’m looking at you final season of “HIMYM) or game series, there is some sort of comfort in tuning in on a weekly basis and revisiting this world to which you have become so accustomed. I wouldn’t quite call it nostalgia, but maybe that’s not far off.

Certainly for a series like “The Goldbergs,” I’m instantly drawn in by the nostalgia factor, the “Hey, I never noticed that Adam had a Gobo Fraggle before, who doesn’t love the Fraggles” bit. But I keep coming back week after week because I want to spend time with his whackadoo family, and now, a season and a half in, I look forward to those weekly visits and even if the show slumps in seasons three and four, odds are that I’ll still be there if there’s a season five (wouldn’t it be something if this ’80s based show could go more than 10 years and be forced to do something in the ’90s?).

“The Goldbergs” doesn’t have it, but the immersion in a new and different world is really a huge sell of many a series, and certainly virtually all science fiction. You want to see and know more about the post Judgment Day future (as long as it’s always night during it and the majority of the film doesn’t take place there). I still don’t have a great handle on just how the IMF operates, but you can bet that every time there’s a new film I’m looking for clues, that’s the mission I choose to accept. There may not be a lot of information offered in any single film (because I refuse to accept “Salvation” as canon), but you can build the pieces over time.

As for the games side of it, and a title not needing to be a part of a franchise to still can one involved in a world, the amount of time you (or really I) will spend in a good game can be tremendous (see above with “Skyrim”), far more than you spend even with a long-running television series or movie franchise. I have spent more time playing “Skyrim” than it takes to watch all the James Bond movies four or five or six times.

What game will pull me in next? I don’t know. Will “Genisys” and “Rogue Nation” live up to my personal expectations? I don’t know, but I’m definitely excited to find out.

photo credit: Melinda Sue Gordon/Paramount Pictures

Categories: Random Thoughts

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8 replies

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