Wolf’s Wicked Words: Light-Like Incredulity
“How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a weary world.” – William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice
This topic has been scratching at the back of my mind for quite some time now and I feel it is one that every gamer out there needs to pay attention to or indeed redirect it. While thinking back and searching for a quote regarding light or luminescence; I found so many magnificent quotes from stories and direct quotes from influential people throughout the years of literature.
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So many current topics about trademarked words and degrading rubber dominate the current headlines and as a result I’ve decided to to against the grain and not give into peer pressure.
The reason for the topic of light is that while this is something that I’ve been meaning to talk about for ages; recent gaming finally provided me a nudge in the ribs to finally explore the land of fluorescent kitchen lights.
In this day and age of gaming one is eventually bound to forget certain aspects of one’s favourite or even least favourite game – not necessarily events taking place in the game or perhaps a character of some sort’s monologue but mainly something that takes up part on the disc that plays its crucial part while you’re wandering around the game’s world. I’m referring of course to the incurable use of light. This ever-present element in games is one I’ve been thinking about and the more I feed this thought with coffee, the more I am amazed by its part in everything.
When going outside and staring at the sky as so many gamers do, (sarcastic cough) you’ll no doubt be blinded by the sun, however, when not staring directly at the sun you’ll be treated to an array of different textures and details. The real world has the best engine and graphical prowess no matter how you look at it. Think about it for a while; every detail and texture would’ve gone by unnoticed if not for the light.
So many games I’ve played over the years emitted a sense wonder within me and at the time I did not realise that it was mostly due to the creative and efficient way the lighting was used. I can go on and on by reading from the elongated list about all the games in which this is crucial for the overall experience, but I’m fairly certain that you don’t want to read this till the 19th of November this year. I will, however, use a handful of games in which the use of light is heart-stirringly essential.
When looking at Mirror’s Edge, you’ll be bombarded by the bloom effect and the world has a very sterile and clean look. I imagine everything within the game to smell like Dettol. The light creates an almost overwhelming sense of cleanliness created by the contrasting and uncaring society.
Outlast uses lighting in a very restrictive and pants-soiling way as is the case with almost all horror games, but where the creative use of lighting came into the fray for me was when I was staring into a pitch black room with nothing but the infrared function on my video camera. Sure, it is nothing uncommon I’ll give you that, but unlike a flashlight that has the capability to cover a relative distance and you’re able to make out what exactly is is you’re looking at; this infrared function illuminates the freakish eyes of the bloodthirsty and ravenous patients / inmates of Mount Massive Asylum. As if that wasn’t severe enough combined with jump scares and one of the thickest atmospheres I’ve experienced in a horror game, you’re limited to distance in which objects, walls and indeed misshapen aberrations can be seen. You’re traipsing about the asylum and all of a sudden you’re faced with the glowing eyes of a freakish doctor who moments ago relieved you of two digits affably confirming your presence with: “Hey buddy!” If not for the master usage of lighting in this game, it wouldn’t nearly be as unnerving as it is.
To experience something you’ve never witnessed with regards to lightning, have a look at The Unfinished Swan – not something I would dream to spoil here.
These are but three games from vastly different ends of the gaming spectrum. I urge you to take a second look at your games with all of this in mind. It may not be the most perplexing issue, but it will captivate your thoughts and who knows, perhaps you’ll gain additional appreciation towards the gaming medium.
Imagine yourself sitting in a dull, dark and pitch black room with the an expertly written bestselling novel which you cannot wait to start reading. Just think about it.