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Regarding dissonance between what the player is said from the story and what the player experiences through gameplay

Gamingtodaynews1e - Regarding dissonance between what the player is said from the story and what the player experiences through gameplay

So I tend to notice that there are some games that do this but it is never really brought it as much and I assume it is because there is no clear way to explain this or understand it.

I understand the illusion of choice in a video game because developers say that they leave their games' mechanics onto the players but their opportunities are only limited to those that are intended by the developers (unless the players manage to find a way around this like bugs, glitches or clever exploits or mods).

What I am mostly referring to is the cognitive dissonance between the player is told via the story or what they are told by the developers or other fans of what the game is about, and what they experience ingame.

I am going to elaborate via an example of a game that I have been playing recently – Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD Final Mix (that is a mouthful).

I have been a Kingdom Hearts fan for many years and I had the chance to play a game of the series for the first time and I was told through my playthroughs and story summaries that one theme is common within the series – friendship is a strength and you see this from the colourful cast of other characters that you meet in the series and they are sometimes even your party members.

But through the gameplay, this is not really the case because the main character, which is usually Sora, is so damn powerful that he basically carries the whole team.

Lore-wise, this makes sense because he is a Keyblade wielder but gameplay-wise, it does not fit with the theme that his friends are his strength and that they mean a lot to him.

For most of the time, they start to feel like extras or people that you hang around with but are barely able to do anything. They carry your potions or are just placeholders for special moves and that's it.

It is like having a six Pokemon team and you say that you love all of them and each one has a purpose but you mostly rarely on one who has the best moves or who is the most powerful.

But if I compare this to another game like Chrono Trigger, the reliance on teamwork and the importance of friendship is felt in the game, both in the story and the gameplay because other party members have a purpose and neither one of more powerful than the other and you experience their own stories which also makes the main protagonist just as humble and as equal as they are.


I sometimes experienced this dissonance in other games like for example Call of Duty. Some Call of Duty games try to give off this sense of moral ambiguity in your actions and that some villains have their own reasons for their actions like Menendez in BO2 or Altas in COD:AW or the terrorists in the recent MWreboot. You are given the impression that your actions have consequences or the people that you worked for or work with have made decisions that eventually affected the lives of others which you are later fighting against or are trying to pick up the pieces.

I actually saw this in another game like Division 2 where the Division and the JTF who are supposed to be good guys, have made decisions that eventually caused the creations of the other factions and you are there to keep the peace or clean up the mess.

Intellectually, you are meant to think twice before you shoot but gameplay-wise, you do not have that action. You are not shown consequences or given impressions that are powerful enough that you question your own morals or get to see the consequences with your own eyes.

It is not like on Spec Ops: The Line in that one mission with the white phosphorus where you are the one who actually presses the buttons to shoot and you see the reflection of the character on the screen which mimics the state of reflection of your own actions, and later, you see a striking cutscene of civilians who were burned alive and you cannot help but just sit there and watch.

That is truly a way to really give the player something to think about and really make the player question his agency on that game.

So I would like to ask about your perspectives on this – why is it difficult to input mechanics thatrelfect and enhance the stories' themes or what the game is trying to portray and why does this happen sometimes too ?

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