Story telling in the 21st century
by J.C. Norman
As far as I can remember, I have always loved a good story. I think even one of my earliest memories was watching films such as Conan the Barbarian with my dad. Also as a 90s child I was also subject to many different kinds of animations and so have given myself a very open mind when it comes to stories and have always found time to explore as many as I could. That being said I wanted to point out the sad truth the many of the great stories will never be seen and appreciated by people who love fiction and stories, all because of the format of how the story is told. Many people I know do not read books and a few more have never read a book in their lives. Other stories again will never be shared because they are now told on a pc or console. It’s not anybody’s fault however, only that most people either simply do not have the time nor expenses to buy into such things or are dissuaded by the stigma that comes with most games. For that is what they are after all, only games. But I always like to try and point out to people outside the community that there is a very large difference in the games that separate the players from the online, competitive players, to the shut in, story based campaigners.
It was originally in 1997 when I first witnessed *Spoilers* Sephiroth jumping down and putting his sword through Aerith’s chest and killing her off from the rest of the story and facing Jenova still with the lingering music of Aerith’s theme that I realised there was so much more feeling put into something many people think of as bright lights and techno music. This felt to me more like a memorable chapter in a great book, or a scene from a favourite movie. And as technology evolved so too did the ideas used in animation until we now have scenes from The Last of Us, animated and voiced by actors to give us the best possible look into a long story about the relationships between two characters.
Set in a post-apocalyptic world we see the world from the perspective of an ageing man who has lost his only daughter and lived with grief for twenty years, turning him cold and bitter to the world. Finding himself journeying with a young girl, Ellie, a unique child who is immune to the infection that has destroyed the world he takes her to a place where she could be used to create a vaccine.
A scene that is most important to me is one where, after months of travelling together, Ellie realises Joel has the intention on passing her on to his brother to finish their mission and washing his hands of her, and so she deciding to run away. The scene follows as Joel finds her and we witness one of the most emotional scenes in gaming history. The confrontation as the two argue their differences, the low-blow Ellie makes by comparing herself to Joel’s late daughter and Joel’s own cold reactions make this a scene I feel everyone should see once. A scene that makes you briefly forget that you’re only looking a moving pixels and instead struggle to see through the tears, especially when you yourself feel closer to these characters after you have started the story from the beginning.
The ending also is proof that games are more than a high score and a false sense of achievement upon completing.
After their long and dangerous journey Joel finally manages to bring Ellie to the Fireflies, the people who could create the vaccine and therefore end the long apocalypse and start life once more. Only Joel finds out that to create this vaccine means Ellie must surgically have her brain removed, thus ending her.
After bonding with this girl who has finally filled the gap of his own lost daughter Joel decides to save Ellie and escape with her before they sacrifice her, and furthermore, lying to her about there being more immune people like her when she awoke safely after. This creates a question of whether Joel was doing the right thing. For letting Ellie die would eventually save the world, but it would be at the cost of his own redemption for his little girl he couldn’t save in the past. Whether this is an act of selfishness on his behalf and deciding to keep the world burning after all it took from him or being selfless for once and thinking of Ellie, for in their previous argument Ellie states, “Everyone I have cared for has either died, or left me.”
A great and crowd splitting question of what is the right thing to do, the greater good, or redemption from grief?
Of the many games/manga/comic strips/films/anime/stage plays I could use this one stands to my point the most that it is tragic how many gems will only be shared and admired by a small community. For this game in particular is the victim of ‘console exclusives’ and a story only those who own the ‘right’ console will ever see and appreciate. I’ve seen from experience that you have to sieve through a lot of really bad stories sometimes in all different kinds of ways of telling them and I understand also for most people these things just are not important in life. But for those who do love stories but are not quite sure whether you’ll ever read a graphic novel or play a game etc., you may be surprised what you may find if you look hard enough.
This clip is the scene of the argument between Joel and Ellie, in The Last of Us, which JC Norman wants to share as an example of great story telling in a format or genre you may not think about otherwise.
Sphere’s Divide: Tragedies of Emotion
After the dramatic collision of events that tore apart friends and lovers Arcalie and Val in second novel of the Sphere’s Divide series, we return to find another city has fallen and society has once again been plunged into turmoil. Arcalie, growing in power, is struggling to remain in control of her influence over the elements and is stretched to the limit as she continues to compete in the Elemental League tournaments with one aim: to become the Element Leader. Val, having being rescued from his recent imprisonment, is the only one who can keep her grounded; the build up of energy locked within her can only lead to ruination. So when Lord Zane — reigning Elemental Lord and Arcalie’s immortal adversary — orders the death penalty to be introduced to the games, it is up to Val and their friends to save the Elementists. As events spiral out of their control, Arcalie unwittingly sets down a dark and dangerous path that may yet lead to her own destruction and that of everyone and everything she has fought so hard to protect.
A gripping blend of science-fiction, steam and cyber punk, Sphere’s Divide III: Tragedies of Emotion is the third instalment of J C Norman’s fantastical series.
About J.C. Norman
J.C. Norman grew up and currently lives in Milton Keynes Village in the UK where he works in the food industry. He has studied martial arts all his life and has worked to incorporate this experience into his writing. The first book in his Sphere’s Divide series was re-published by Clink Street Publishing in 2015 and the second was publishing by Grosvenor House Publishing Ltd.