Hull School of Art and Design
BA (Hons Game Design)
The Open University
“Analyse, compare and contrast two video games.”
My task is to ‘analyse, compare and contrast two video games’, to do this I decided to choose two games that have many similarities and differences so that I can discuss many topics such as User Interface, User Experience and I will especially be discussing the way in which the character is interpreted due to their appearance or gender. My two games are for the age group of 18+, Lollipop Chainsaw and Deadpool. Using these two games I hope to explore the reasons for the way the characters are designed as well as why they chose this style of game.
The Deadpool game has a unique storyline and is very clever in the way you play as Deadpool is a character that ‘breaks the forth wall’ (speaks to the player). The saying ‘break the forth wall’ originated from when the only entertainment was theatre.
“When the actors break through that forth wall and address the audience with a few words, a smile or even a wink, the audience transforms from observer to participant.” (Justin Gerber, Randall Colburn and Dan Caffery, 2015).
Films use this method a lot and it just so happens that the Deadpool movie uses it (especially in the after credits). Michael Myers is incredibly known for breaking the forth wall, I believe that he uses it in most movies he is in such as ‘The Love Guru’, ‘The Cat in the Hat’ and of course ‘Wayne’s World’. Wayne’s World constantly uses this technique, my favourite time this film used this was when Wayne starts talking to you about his life and how everyone is leaving him then the camera pans away as he chases you as if you decided to leave him too.
The story of this game consists of Deadpool wanting his own video game so he contacts High Moon Studios and persuades them in an ‘explosive’ way. With Deadpool now having a contract with the studios he has been told to kill Chance White (keep in mind Deadpool is a mercenary) and the game continues from there. After he fights villains such as Arclight and Vertigo he then stumbles across Psylocke, Domino, Rogue and Wolverine as they tell him that he needs to stop Sinister from taking over some of the satellites, however, Deadpool keeps ignoring what the main plot is going to be as he then runs into Cable who reveals a bit more of the main story which mentions Sinister broadcasting a signal on those satellites to stop the X-Men.
Cable has been in the comics with Deadpool before so they know each other really well. As Deadpool is distracted and won’t pay attention Cable tells Deadpool to meet him at the North end of the city, he also states that there will be a large-breasted female fan waiting for him there (obviously a hoax to get Deadpool to meet Cable). Once he meets Cable Deadpool chooses not to listen again and he ventures off to the adventure tower to get revenge on Sinister as Sinister killed Deadpools contract.
Lollipop Chainsaw is about a girl with the name of Juliet Starling who just so happens to be a zombie hunter. On her way to school (San Romero High) she discovered that the school was under attack but luckily she just so happened to have her zombie hunting chainsaw with her. She stumbles across her boyfriend (Nick) who has been bitten by a zombie so she cuts his head off and uses her special voodoo magic to save his life; now he is just a head/keychain. She runs around the school looking for survivors and finds her sensei who then gives her ability to Chainsaw Dash, he also mentions the cause of this zombie breakout which is due to the fact of a goth wants the world to be hell for everyone as he is a goth and naturally feels this way. There are seven stages and within 6 of them is a boss level at the end and also Juliet receives birthday presents. Throughout the game she acquires the Chainsaw Blaster from her older sister Cordelia, the Nick Popper from her younger sister Rosalind and Nick Roulette which is acquired early in the game.
Overall the game is great fun as you have the choice of two endings (bad and good) depending on how many people you have saved. The good ending is Juliet and her family returning home to find her mum has a surprise birthday cake for her whereas the bad ending is the family returning home to Juliet’s Mum in zombie form.
Already by looking at these two games you can see that there is a comic book design to it as well as the characters gender being shown in a very obvious way (two highly obvious comparisons). In the first scene Deadpool is sat in a chair with his legs wide open and the camera is centred in the middle (slightly lowered) and in the first scene of lollipop chainsaw the camera moves up Juliet’s body as she lays in bed; the reason these games do this is to grab the players attention. Doing something like this could be risky as it can be seen as rude and offensive or funny and sexy.
Also achievements suggest rude notions towards the characters as some of the first achievements in Deadpool are ‘The first one’s free – Got off your well-toned bottom’ and ‘Makin a Game – Played with Deadpool’s Junk’ on the other hand Lollipop Chainsaw ‘I swear! I did it by mistake! – Peeped under Juliet’s skirt once’. Achievements keep the player interested in playing the game and when they are as easy as this to start with it just makes it better for the gamer to feel like they accomplished something as well as these specific achievements again having that sexual reference/innuendo. Even though there is a difference with Deadpool being a guy and Juliet being a girl we also see the jock Nick at the beginning of Lollipop Chainsaw (a male influence) whereas in Deadpool we see girls such as Domino, Rogue and Vertigo (female influences) so each game has just as many sexual references throughout that are both male and female so it is suitable for any gender to play. The Entertainment Software Association created a chart that shows gamer gender percentages for 2015; 56% of gamers are male and 44% are female so we are nearly at 50/50 with playing games. 30% of gamers are aged between 18 and 35 therefore these games are highly relevant to the stats as you have to be over the age of 18 to play these games anyway.
A lot of children play over age games and there has been many news articles about how this is a bad thing. A news article from the Guardian has a quote from school leaders stating
“Playing such games or accessing certain social media sites such as Facebook and WhatsApp could lead to ‘early sexualised behaviour’ and leave children ‘vulnerable to grooming for sexual exploitation or extreme violence’”. (Nadia Khomami, The Guardian, 2015).
From many facts and statistics via books and the internet I find that the characters in a game can be the reason for the age rating. Deadpool and Juliet are highly sexualised but they are also known as ‘Badass’ (Tough). The book ‘Level Up’ by Scott Rogers has a chapter named “Do we really need another Badass?” and it discusses body language, body shapes/appearance and personality; I find this a very interesting topic as it relates to my two choices of games dramatically. He finds that most badass characters are anti-heroes and that is exactly what Deadpool is and he says that
“The general public often gives video games a bad rap for teaching kids bad behaviour” (Scott Rogers, 2010, Level Up)
; he continues and also mentions that some characters aren’t always good role models but why should there be so many morals in games. Do you think we need more ‘Badass’ characters?
In my opinion I believe that these games use sexual references to be comedic. The Deadpool comics have always been funny and then the humour was carried across into the game and then the film. Deadpool’s first appearance was in ‘The New Mutants’ #98 comic and he was instantly showing his funny side whilst attacking the antagonists whereas Juliet first appeared in her game Lollipop Chainsaw and shows her humour by making slight sexual references in the stereotypical ditzy blonde way.
The user interface is very alike as the health bar is in the top left corner of both games also the points system is unlimited and in the top right corner of the screen. As with most games they both have a power bar that when full gives the character a temporary ability; I find these great for sparking more of interest in a game as when you get fed up and you are struggling to continue the game this game mechanic helps out. Differences include Deadpool having a weapons display whereas Lollipop Chainsaw doesn’t as Juliet’s weapon is an all in one device that runs on the power of sparkles and Nick Tickets. Juliet has some sort of mini-map but in the Deadpool game you are mainly guided by the camera angles as well as it being a one way system (both of these games are not free roam but have a level select menu). I like the way in which Juliet’s health bar is an image representation of what replenishes her health (lollipops) but Deadpool’s Health bar is just the typical red heart health bar but the real product that replenishes his health is really tacos.
The User Experience for this game is very interactive. I mentioned the fourth wall break earlier because ever since the comics Deadpool has been very interactive with the audience and I feel like that makes his character so unique. Whilst doing my research I came across a lot of forums in which fans discussed a crossover between Juliet and Deadpool due to them being quite similar characters. With Lollipop Chainsaw I feel like they make the gameplay more interactive by letting the character choose the outfit and a large percentage of the outfits are highly sexual. The game even gives the player the option for Juliet to wear a bikini. Some of the costumes are unlockable so this is another mechanic that requires the player to continue playing even after game completion.
Laura Mulvey invented the term ‘Male Gaze’ in 1975. This is basically the way in which women are presented on screen; elements of the ‘Male Glaze’ include the camera movement, the camera position and what clothes she is wearing. Both of the games I have chosen feature this concept as seen from the evidence above.
Whilst reading ‘Level Up’ by Scott Rogers again I came across ways in which games communicate rewards. These two games feature a similar points system, however, you may not realise it but they also use voice commands, sound effects and a sub-screen. In Lollipop Chainsaw when Juliet finds a collectable she says things such as
“So Delicious” and “Oooh I don’t have this one yet” (PowerPyx, 2012)
and as well as being rewarded for these collectables she also cheers you on when you play as Nick (temporarily). Those achievements mentioned in paragraph seven for Deadpool happen to be a ‘break the forth wall’ reward communication and in this game you mainly have voice communication rewards when multiple amounts of enemies have been killed as Deadpool says
“Yeah, congratulations you stabbed somebody.” and “Now gimme all your lunch money!”. (MrRetroKid91, 2013)
Freeze Gameplay is only used in Lollipop Chainsaw when you kill three or more zombies the screen will have a sparkle background with big font showing your stats and then you see a slow motion of your hit whereas Deadpool doesn’t really have freeze-gameplay but the introduction to new characters is great.
Overall I feel that both games have a lot of similarities and I don’t feel like this is necessarily a bad thing as fans are inspired to merge characters together into comics, cosplay and artwork. Both games feature really great mechanics that interact well with the player unlike some other games. As always there is room for improvement, but I feel that the freeze gameplay, voice communications, breaking the forth wall and even character design is great. Even though some people may feel that the characters are to sexual both games have an age rating and sometimes it is worth reading reviews to understand what other people think of the game. IGN gave Deadpool a 6/10 rating and Lollipop Chainsaw a 5/10 rating.