Ludology and narratology are two strong competitors in the world of video game interpretation. Ludology argues that games only go by their own internal rules. The players only play by the rules and rules are the silent details of the game. There is nothing to narrate.EspenAarseth argued that the maximum learning can be gained from games are its rules and mechanics (2004). On the other hand, Narratology says that it is not only the rules player see in the game, the players also experience many things and gets to know the relevant culture and history from the game. Games are not different from media and it has its own relation with digital media. Janet Murray says that games are part of other media forms and relativity with traditional media can be foundfrom these games (2005). In this essay, I will argue about, if we want to see Far Cry: Primalfrom a ludologist or game essentialist’s point of view, the details will be limited. But from a critical game theorist’s point of view, Far Cry: Primalwill tell us a great story, about the culture related to the game, history and so on. The game will not only stay restricted by its rules and mechanics. This critical game theorist approach will let us know, how players connect with the game when they get to know the story from this game and how this game is related to the same techniques of traditional media.
Far Cry: Primalis an action-adventure video game. It has an open world environment and it is played from a first-person perspective. First, let’s try to define the game as a game essentialist. When someone first starts playing a game, he needs to know all the rules of the game and how the game is played. So, from a ludologists point of view, these two things are the only details we can get from the game. Now the question is does Far Cry: Primaltell us only about its rules and mechanics? The answer will be ‘No’ when we will see the game from a critical game theorists point of view. This game essentialism comes from the concepts of magic circle. So, let’s see what is a magic circle? According to Huizinga, “all play moves and has its being inside a play-ground separated in advance either physically or preferably, intentionally or as usual… All are impermanent universes inside the conventional world, devoted to the execution of an act apart” (1938). So according to Huizingas idea, when a player plays a game he is separated from the real world contents and nothing from that game world will help us in real life. Based on this theory, if we follow game essentialism theory, Far Cry: Primalis played in a space separated from the real world. That player is in a magic circle. Anything from that game world will not be applied in the real world. Because all those things without rules and mechanics are not important from a game essentialists point of view. So, that makes the game different from the other forms of media and the audience will give different reactions, not the reactions they give to normal forms of media. But, when a player will play the game, he will not agree with this theory.
Aarseth have argued, “games are not intertextual…the value system of a game is strictly internal, determined unambivalently by the rules” (2004).But the critical game theorists have different opinions. From their point of view, rules are not the only thing to learn from the game. Games are also a cultural part of media forms. When a player starts playing Far Cry: Primal, there is like a little tutorial that says what key will do what, how the map works. But that is for the player to know how the computer keys will help him to play the game. These rules and mechanics are not the only things the player gets to know. These rules and mechanics will put us in the magic circle and separate the player from the real world. But Mia Consalvo disagrees with this theory. According to Mia Consalvo, “the magic circle does not exist” (2009). From now on, this essay will tell us how Far Cry:Primal tells a great story, related culture from the game and the relation with the media. This will put critical game theorists approach over the game essentialism approach.
Far Cry: Primalstarts by telling a story. So, this game will definitely disagree that it is only played by rules and mechanics, nothing else in the game is important. The game starts by setting in 10,000 BCE in the land of oros, after the last ice age. Takkar is the main character, from the Wenja tribe and he is a hunter. The story starts in a cave, where Tensay tells the player about the Wenja and how they discovered Oros. He at that point expressed that opponent tribes touched base too and conveyed obscurity to the Wenja; the Udam, eaters of flesh, and the Izila, experts of flame. He then proceeded by saying that light comes as the lost Wenja siblings.So, from the beginning, the game begins to tell us a story. As the game approaches, the player discovers many things about history and culture of people live in 10,000 BCE. In the same way, where anyone can find any news and story from other forms of the media. Thus, this goes alongside the theory of narratology.
According to Jorge Guerra and Karen Sanz Ramos, “Far Cry Primal, is a tool for learning about prehistoric human societies” (2017). By playing the game a player comes to know how people used to live in after ice age. Their life style, culture, what they used to eat, their dress style. They used to have base camps, seasonal camps as they travelled a lot to find new land. One tribe used to attack another land and took over that land. Those people used to hunt animals to eat and they used melee weapons like clubs, spears, axes and other weapons like bows and slings. So, rules and mechanics are not the only details of this game, it tells us a great story about cave people, their lifestyle, culture and prehistoric human societies like other forms of media. This is like a fun way to learn something and enjoy.
According to koster, “Learning, when experienced well, is naturally fun. One of the essential figures that connect with us any game is the chance to learn, through revealing examples in frameworks and acting skills” (2004).“Play is recognized as a fundamental source of childhood education and there is a significant community of scholars who believe that a playful approach to learning can also help engage adult students.” (Ryan, Costello, Stapleton, 2012).This takes us to the concept of deep learning from the games. So, anyone can learn well when they are experiencing well at the same time. Like, this game, Far Cry: Primal gives a player great experience which helps him to learn. So, it can be considered as a great part of media forms. A playful approach and great experiences in Far Cry: Primalattract the adult students. Because apart from the rules and mechanics, a player learns many things from playing this game like, in the cave age the life was not so easy as now. The life was full of danger and unexpected surprises. There was no security of life. People had to travel, hunt, fight in order to survive. If rules and mechanics are the only details of the game, a player will not be able to learn all of these deep concepts of life from prehistoric human societies.
Games are complicated objects. For some people games are meaningless. But from everything people can learn something, if the context is clearly understood and can experience the deeper meaning related to that. These complicated objects are same as any other media forms and a player needs to understand the context of the game while playing it. Far Cry: Primalis not only a game, it can also be considered as a source of learning with a larger context. When a player plays the game he is not playing in a separated space, he is not confined with the rules. He can do whatever he wants in the game. Thus the experience is so effective that it is like the player is actually in that cave age and he is experiencing everything that the character in the game is experiencing. These critical game theories take a player to deeper meaning hidden in the game. Analyzing rules and mechanics is helpful, but cultural context, experiences from the game, genre are the ones which makes the game exciting and shows its relation with other media forms. As a result, critical game theories helps to go deeper in the learning from the games beyond rules and mechanics and creates a field to analyze the theory of video games.