Realism vs. Style: the Zelda Debate
Posted by Nathaniel at 4:22 PM
Bonnie Ruberg, a writer for Planet GameCube and Gaming Age, has an interesting article up on Slashdot Games continuing discussion on the ongoing debate regarding the upcoming "realistic" iteration of Zelda vs. the previous cel-shaded "stylistic" version. Very interesting read if you are a Zelda fan. I especially appreciate the inclusion of culture as a design point:
But for the video game community, the question of aesthetics is also a cultural one. Whereas, in the Japanese market, unique style is highly regarded, realism in games is more often an American ideal. This can be seen in the supposedly negative link that critical gamers draw between Wind Waker's cel-shading, officially called "toon-shading" by Nintendo, and cartoons themselves - considered by most Americans to be a juvenile form of entertainment. Yet in Japan, anime and manga (the Japanese equivalents of cartoon shows and comic books) are regarded as legitimate art forms, and though some are designed for children, men and women of all ages enjoy these products, which lack the "kiddy" connotations they hold in the United States. Similarly, the gender expectations that are so rigid in mainstream America are not as clearly defined in Japanese culture. Japanese gamers are less concerned with appearing "masculine," at least in the American sense of reveling in games that flex their graphical muscle. The comments of U. S. gamers, especially those participating in forums, are influenced by the need to protect a certain macho image, one in favor of "grownup" realism instead of "childish" stylization.