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为什么田园主题能够成为受欢迎的电子游戏素材

发布时间:2016-01-20 17:36:04 Tags:,,,,

作者:Holly Nielsen

在《季节物语》中,玩家可以花几百个小时慢慢地培育一个农业帝国,同时还可以通过每天提供给村民鸡蛋而说服对方与自己结婚。这是一款有关努力工作与安居定业的游戏。在游戏中玩家唯一需要适应的便是田园生活的自然节奏—-而这也注定是一场没有胜利的对抗。

如果你觉得这听起来很奇怪(就像我总是很难向一些朋友解释一款游戏的吸引力),你便可以将《季节物语》置于一个更广的背景下。这里将延伸出一段历史故事。

因为一开始我们便生活在城市里,所以我们非常渴望乡村的与世无争。古希腊人会使用史诗去赞扬牧民和牧羊女的生活;在伊丽莎白时期的剧场里,许多剧作家经常将角色带离法院并走进荒野;维多利亚时代的小说更是赋予了自然悲剧传奇色彩。而现在我们拥有电子游戏能够做到这点。

从某种程度看来这是关于机械论:有人发现农业的不确定性和节奏能够作为有趣的游戏素材。Zynga早前的Facebook游戏《Farmville》获得了巨大的成功,游戏凭借种植庄家和养育动物而吸引了超过4000万活跃用户;而更复杂的PC系列游戏《模拟农场》也向我们展示了带有品牌机械和多种真实牲畜的真正的模拟内容也能吸引大众用户的注意。

animal crossing(from theguardian)

animal crossing(from theguardian)

但是还存在其它原因,游戏子类型能够唤醒人们的社区意识并以田园风格的形式去歌颂乡村生活。任天堂的《动物之森》将玩家置于一个充满拟人化动物的村庄,而Natsume的《牧场物语》则是关于重新修复一个破旧的农场。尽管前者并未直接突出农耕(除了敌意的萝卜交易外),但它们都是关于回归自然,创造强烈的社区感以及与季节变更和缓慢生活间的紧密联系的内容。它们都是被设计成像Theocritus(游戏邦注:希腊诗人,牧歌创始人),Marlowe(英国剧作家及诗人)和Tennyson等作家的田园风格作品,以此去表现人们对于乡村田园生活的追求;并将人们带离噪杂且险恶的城市。

与许多文化触发点一样的是,田园文学主题在游戏中的出镜率很高。就像一些正面角色往往更与自然相关,而那些负面角色则更加工业化或技术化。甚至在《刺猬索尼克》中(始于农村青山区域),玩家需要击中邪恶的机器人头部去释放被囚禁的可爱小动物。而在《塞尔达传说》系列中我们也经常能够看到消灭邪恶势力去阻止破坏自然的情况;在《Okami》和《阳光马里奥》中也是如此。许多角色冒险游戏总是从一个小村庄展开,并会遭遇来自外界影响的威胁—-即暗示着猖獗的工业化所带来的巨大影响。

作为游戏玩家的我们通过高端技术体验了所有的这些内容,但是我仍清楚在乡村才能拥有着最朴实最单纯的生活—-那是我们所向往的地方。去年发行的世界末日冒险游戏《万众狂欢》便清楚地表现出了这种感觉,即努力为玩家营造出了一部田园剧,以及远离现实世界的乡村模拟游戏。

贯穿历史我们可以发现人类总是热衷于了解并“回到”自然和谐的黄金时代—-当然了,这是并不存在的。在我们一直努力想与这种“更纯粹的”存在联系在一起时,我们已经将乡村生活体验大大理想化了。而电子游戏只是我们新找的用于做这件事的媒介。因为移居伦敦让我发现自己更加迫切玩像《动物之森》和《季节物语》这样的游戏。就像Marie Antoinette(游戏邦注:法王路易十六的王后)在自己命令建造的农场里体验挤奶女工的工作一样,我也选择深入游戏中去实现自己想要追求简单并逃离现实生活的愿望。

当然了,并不是只有我有这种想法。就像《牧场物语》的诞生便是源于其创造者和田康裕在农村长大,后来移居东京去追求更大的发展但却最终迫切地想回到自己农村的家的亲身经历。在像日本这样快速城市化的国家,这类型游戏总是能够与玩家形成强烈的共鸣。回归自然,享受慢节奏的生活方式是许多住在人口密集的城市以及面对着竞争激烈的工作岗位的人们难以触及的目标。在现实生活中我们可能都深陷于商业机器中,而在《牧场物语》里,玩家却能够随着季节的交替去完成不同任务。当你被城市的噪杂,肮脏与拥挤压得闯不来气的时候,花一两个小时在游戏中的农村散步,浇浇花将能够让你瞬间恢复元气。

也许通过游戏主机或PC去寻找平和的乡村感看起来很矛盾。但是人们对于田园的渴望通常都是通过各种技术与方法传达出来的。就像在伊丽莎白时期的英国人渴望着逃离城市并在农村或遥远的孤岛上开启全新生活,所以那时候的戏剧大多是以这样的背景呈现出来。格鲁吉亚人更是在城市建造中发挥创新,即创建了绿叶广场让人们可以暂时逃离城市。维多利亚时期人们经常会前往郊区呼吸新鲜空气并感受乡村的生活气息。而玩《牧场物语》则让玩家可以无需真正劳作便过上农村生活。

其实比起不可兼容,电子游戏和田园风格能够完美地结合在一起。尽管早前的田园主题忽视了真实的农村生活(游戏邦注:即痛苦的清晨劳作,大量的工作,与土地和家畜维系在一起的责任感等等),但是现在的田园风格游戏却能够将这些元素变成让玩家感到有趣的内容。电子游戏让我们能够将自己融合到一个平和的环境中几个小时,而这也是我们在美术,电视或电影中所得不到的。在《牧场物语》中,我们还能够参加社区活动并感到收获的满足,而这些都是我们在欣赏画作时所不能得到的。

但这也不是说电子游戏超越了美术,电影或电视,只是说重新复苏的田园主题找到了能够有效满足现代消费者需求的最佳平台。我们住在一个充满互动的时代,我们也总是想要参与到各种互动中。而游戏则让我们能够不断探索像Marlowe等作家所描绘的山谷,森林,高山和田野等美丽的地方。

本文为游戏邦/gamerboom.com编译,拒绝任何不保留版权的转发,如需转载请联系:游戏邦

Why sentimental pastoral themes make perfect fodder for video games

Holly Nielsen

Story of Seasons is a video game in which you spend hundreds of hours very slowly growing an agricultural empire while attempting to convince a villager to marry you by giving them an egg every day. It is a game about hard work and settling down. The only thing you can fight in Story of Seasons is the natural rhythm of rural life – and it is a fight you will lose.

If this sounds weird to you (and I’ve certainly faced difficulties explaining the appeal of the game to some friends), you need to think about Story of Seasons in a broader context. There is history going on here.

Since we first began to live in cities, we have yearned for the innocence of the country. The ancient Greeks used epic poetry to eulogise the lives of herdsmen and shepherdesses; in the Elizabethan theatre, dramatists often took their characters out of the court and into wilderness; the Victorians wrote novels that bestowed nature with tragic romance. We have video games.

Partly, this is mechanistic: there’s been a discovery that the uncertainties and rhythms of farming make good gaming fodder. Zynga’s early Facebook game Farmville was a spectacular success, attracting over 40 million active users, with its simplified take on crop production and animal care; meanwhile, the much more complex PC series Farming Simulator has shown that there’s a mass audience for authentic simulation complete with branded machinery and multiple authentic livestock breeds.

But there is also something else going on, a sub-genre of games that invoke an almost twee sense of community and that glorify and sentimentalise rural life, very much in the pastoral style. Nintendo’s Animal Crossing titles put players into a village populated by anthropomorphic animals while Natsume’s Harvest Moon titles are all about bringing a decrepid farm back to life. Although the former doesn’t directly feature farming (apart from the viciously cut-throat world of turnip trading) they’re both about getting back to nature, about building a strong sense of community and about developing a close connection with the rhythms of the seasons and a slower pace of life. They are designed, just as the pastoral works of Theocritus, Marlowe, and Tennyson were, to explore the idea of the rural idyll; to take us beyond the artifice and alienation of the city.

The themes of pastoral literature – like many other cultural trigger points– have always been present in games. “Good” characters are often represented as being more at one with nature, while the bad guys are industrial or technological in design. Even in Sonic the Hedgehog, which begins in the rural Green Hill Zone, you have to bop the evil robots on the head to release the cute animals trapped within. Banishing a corruptive evil that has stopped nature from thriving is a narrative often found in the Legend of Zelda series; it’s there in Okami, and in Super Mario Sunshine. Role-playing adventures invariably begin in a village which becomes threatened by a ruinous outside influence – a metaphor for rampant industrialisation that takes us right back to the threatened Shire in Lord of the Rings.

As gamers we experience all this through a piece of high-end technology, but we still instinctively identify these villages with an honest pure way of life – with escape. It’s a feeling captured beautifully in last year’s apocalyptic adventure Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, which manages to create a pastoral drama, and a countryside rambling simulation, out of the end of the world.

Throughout history humans have been preoccupied with understanding and “getting back” to a Golden Age of natural harmony – which of course never really existed. In our efforts to associate with this “purer” existence, we have idealised the experience of rural life. Video games are just the latest means of doing that. Since moving to London I have found myself craving titles such as Animal Crossing and Story of Seasons. Like Marie Antoinette playing at being a milkmaid in her purpose built farm, I delve into an equally superficial homestead to sate my desire for simplicity and escape.

I am, of course, not alone. Harvest Moon itself was inspired by the creator Yasuhiro Wada’s own experience of growing up in the countryside, moving to Tokyo in the pursuit of excitement and ending up desperately missing his rural home. In a rapidly urbanising country like Japan, these games hit an extremely resonant chord with players. Getting back in touch with nature, enjoying a slower paced lifestyle – these are unattainable goals for a vast number of people living in densely populated cities and massively competitive job markets. In life, we may be cogs in the commercial machine, but in Harvest Moon, the player sets the tasks as the seasons gently change around them. When you’re overwhelmed by the noise, dirt and claustrophobia of the city, spending an hour or two strolling about a village, watering flowers has restorative properties – even of it’s just on a screen.

It may seem like a contradiction – to find a feeling of rural peace via a games console or PC. But the pastoral urge has always been expressed through available technologies and methods. The Elizabethans dreamed of escaping the city and starting anew in the country or on remote islands, and the theatre with its elaborate sets and special effects, allowed them to experience that. The Georgians used new ideas in urban architecture, creating leafy squares to withdraw from city life, while the Victorian middle classes constantly clambered to the edges of the suburbs in an attempt to gain space, fresh air and the feel of the country life. Playing Harvest Moon has the same effect as hanging a Constable print or listening to the Archers: we have always wanted the trappings of a “country” life, without the labour involved.

Instead of being incompatible, video games and bucolic imagery are a perfect match. While earlier pastoral forms had to just ignore the realities of country life – the excruciatingly early mornings, the hard labour, the responsibilities of being tied to a particular piece of land or a herd of animals – pastoral games can turn those elements into a quiet joy. Video games allow us to submerge ourselves in a peaceful environment for hours in a way that’s unavailable in art, TV or film. In Harvest Moon, we can partake in community events or feel the satisfaction of growing crops in a way that we can’t by looking at a painting.

It’s not that video games surpass art, film or TV in this respect – it’s just that the latest reiteration of pastoral themes has found a platform that fits modern consumer desires incredibly well. We live in an era of interactivity, we want to be involved. Games let us actually explore the valleys, groves, hills and fields that writers like Marlowe conjured so beautifully.(source:theguardian

 


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