brightwanderer: blood on crystal (Arellia)
[personal profile] brightwanderer
(Discussion of blood and gore in video game context below cut!)

I've recently played two games ("SOMA" and "The Vanishing of Ethan Carter") where the treatment of blood and gore really messed up my play experience. Specifically, the blood was too fresh - still liquid, bright red, smeared over walls and floors. It was blood that must have been spilled barely hours ago, if that - maybe more like minutes. And yet everything else in the environment was signalling that The Events I was trying to investigate had happened much longer ago. Ruined buildings, decay, evidence of plant life growing over structures... and it was really jarring. Like if there was still a cigarette smoking on the table and the food was still warm, you know? To me this is a big, visual signal that THIS STUFF JUST HAPPENED, the murderer is probably still around, OMG!

But in both cases as I played the game I realised that the blood was just... scenery. That the game designers either didn't know or didn't care that blood does not look like that once it has been out of the body for more than a relatively short time. That bloodstains after four months are going to look very different from fresh smears. But that doesn't strike me as particularly esoteric knowledge? I mean, you only need to have put a plaster or bandage on a cut, or managed to get blood on a handkerchief or something, to know that it goes dark very quickly and then after that goes brown. You don't need to have actually seen a murder scene.

I don't know, maybe it's just me. In "Vanishing" there is at least a shaky potential meta reason for the inconsistency, but since that isn't explained until the very end, I spent the whole game really confused about what was happening ("these people just died, but how were they living in this obviously ruined house? Am I missing something?") With "SOMA" I started to wonder early on, as literally everything else in the environment was screaming "this happened a long time ago", but it's so jarringly wrong that it was still tripping me up right until I got a firm timeline near the end of the game - I was still second-guessing, wondering if the environmental decay had somehow happened before everything else, if it was a clue as to what had actually gone down... but, nope, it's just months-old blood magically being still bright red and liquid.

I don't know why it bothers me so much. Do people really just not know that blood dries out and darkens over time?
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brightwanderer: Guardian Sol from Celestial Chronicle (Default)
Helen Bright

January 2017

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