Monday, 13 December 2010

Supporting Research - Batman: Arkham Asylum

Growing up watching Warner Bros Cartoons was one of my childhood's greatest memories, any Warner Bros Cartoon in particular? Had to be Batman: The Animated Series.
What made the show so memorable was two things, the amazing art of Bruce Timm, and the voice acting of Kevin Conroy (Batman) and Mark Hamill (The Joker).

Batman: Arkham Asylum is along those same veins. It's special because it takes the childhood experience of Batman: The Animated Series, and brings it into Adulthood.

How does this relate to my project? Well, like Max Payne, Arkham Asylum manages to take something the audience has already experienced... and twists it.

I love it, it's a great trick.

WARNING: Haven't played Arkham Asylum yet? Don't watch the next two videos. Play it.
Don't intend to play it anytime soon? Go nuts.. I suppose. But I warn you, it's well worth experiencing first hand rather than watching it on low-quality youtube videos

Watch the first video (Most important parts are at 0:00-1:40 & 4:00-6:00), then watch the second (0:00 to 2:45).

What I love about this experience is it breaks the fourth wall. The fourth wall is essentially an imaginary boundary between the audience and the entertainer. It's what separates fiction and reality. The term 'Breaking the fourth wall' is when the entertainer directly interacts with the audience, or fiction interacting with reality.

Only one other game series I've experienced has done this, Metal Gear Solid (put your controller on the floor!). The great thing about the fourth wall is it's another plane of experience to the viewer.

In the first video, You're watching this cutscene, You are controlling batman at the start, you take batman through this area, interact with these characters, and you know that experience from then onwards. It's like a memorable shot or scene within a film that you can replay in your head.

If you've seen the first video, the second video is pretty much self-explanatory in terms of how the audience's experience is led. But the great uncannyness to it is that Batman is essentially under the Scarecrow's effect, and that's what the audience is experiencing as they interact with almost the same stuff again but with the intended scarecrow effect.

This shall be one of my more larger supporting research aspects of my project. I aim to try and take that experience of breaking the fourth wall into my work.

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