Monday, March 2, 2009

Playwriting and the Sims 2

I was playing the Sims 2 the other day and I started daydreaming about how playing the game is a little like playwriting, or maybe more accurately directing...the Sims even look up and complain at you like the stereotypical actor might.

There is much more to real life than there is in a Sim's life: more things to do, places to go, people to meet, things to have or see or emotions to feel.

I have heard that to write a memoir, you need to either have an extraordinary life and a good way to tell it or an average life with a greatly compelling way to tell it. This reminds me of the Sims in that in some ways their lives are how could I make up a storyline for them based on what they do? They speak Simlish, so I don't know what they are saying, but I could make it up, and could that make for an interesting scene? Sim games are usually played primarily in one house anyway, so setting a stage would not be difficult. I've had a lot of trouble making scenes simplistic, keeping the setting to one or two rooms only so that the play is performable. I'm learning that with a simple set you can transport the audience to a different place if you just trust them to use their imaginations.

Anyway, maybe the Sims have the boring lives, and we need to take their language and put real words (english words) into their mouths.

...which reminds me of some amusing videos that I've seen on YouTube in which people will mute a video and record their voices over it, pretending as if they are the characters. ...which reminds me that one could also use this "observe and overdub" technique in real life, on real people. If you see someone or a group far off you can watch them and imagine what it is they're saying to each other, so long as you overcome the fear that they might come over and bop you on the head for staring.

Bop you on the head? I am in a weird mood today.

This is reverse engineering for playwriting. Instead of saying "this is what I want my actors to do," you're saying, "where can I find silent or muted actors who will inspire me?" This kind of exercise would (I'm guessing) probably lead to a more character-driven play rather than a story and language-heavy play.

For example, in Sara's post on Lidless, she discussed how the play was a lot about the story, and not as much about the characters, whereas in Portrait the characters were at the forefront and the story was not as important. Then Jenny commented and explained the differences between her background and Frances' background. I think I'm starting to see how plays can be effective in different ways and there's no one way (or one background) one must have to write an effective play.

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