Friday, November 26, 2010

Video Games as a Literature - Professor Layton Series

Professor Layton 
How It Is a Literature

The current age of technology is rapidly evolving, from books going electronic and the fastest source of information lies within the internet, it can be equally said that video games are becoming the new form art as well as literature, just as much as film.

As an individual who loves a good novel as well as plays video games on a regular basis (what with being in a major for video games), it isn't hard to view video games as the new literature. To some, a good book needs a well rounded character, an engaging plot, and an opportunity to engulf the reader into the book's world, and to me, video games are not that far off from a book's objective. Of the many video games that I have played over the course of my life, there is one video game that is just as engaging as book as well as a movie: and that game series is called “Professor Layton”.

With most games being a fast pace, first person shooters, or an extremely violent beat 'em all, Professor Layton as a genre is a point-and-click puzzle mystery, with puzzles being the core gameplay. Ca not cross a bridge? A guard is blocking your path? The only solution is not to beat the guard up or find an alternative route, it is to solve puzzles. What is beautiful about the game, is while the gameplay may be a very slow paced brain teaser, the plot and characters are overly engaging that pulls the player into the world of Professor Layton, with characters ranging from the Professor himself to the side characters that are in need of help to the plot where it becomes a life/death situation and can change it's pace form being light hearted and cheery to dark and serious, Professor Layton's plot is perfectly paced and presented that it could be give as a novel. The story is also told through dialog between characters in game, as well as beautifully animated cutscenes, which gives a feeling of a film like movies; considering films to some is a form of literature.

While a plot is great and helps sell a novel into a powerful literature, characters are what needed in order to make a literature fantastic, and Professor Layton is chalk full with powerful and engaging characters. The main character of the series are well rounded and engaging starting from the main character and his iconic top hat to the villain of each game. 

The players at the start of the game are introduced to the main character, Professor Hershal Layton, professor of archeology that teaches at Grensheller University with a keen eye for detail and an enthusiast for puzzles, he is also a gentleman of the upmost extreme and is always caught wearing his iconic top hat. With him at all time, is his self appointed apprentice, Luke Triton, who is studying under the Professor in terms of loving and solving puzzles and becoming a gentleman himself. He has a unique ability to talk with animals, which has came in handy in more then one situation when it came to solving puzzles. Together, the two gentlemen go off to solve mysteries sent out by people in need of the Professor's wit.

While on the outside, most players would find the Professor a bit one dimensional when it comes to just being a gentleman and solving puzzles, he actually has more depth in to his character then one could assume. The Professor has been shown to be able to solve mysteries faster than the Scotland Yard's top inspector and be able to pull of MacGuyver in every scenario, an example being when the Professor had to rescue a female stuck in a tower, and was able to whip up in less then a minute a flying machine using only a pole, window cloth, a chair, and the female's string. Layton has shown as well to be an expert sword fighter, but, being an English Gentleman that he is, only does so in order to defend himself and not cause harm to his opponent, who is hell bent into killing the Professor because he mistook the Professor for “stealing” his love. 

In one of the later games in the series, it is revealed that the Professor at one point had a love interest; she was the one who game him his iconic top hat (a hat that no gentleman should be without) as well was Layton's inspiration of becoming a Professor as well as a true English gentleman. However, she died in an explosion while trying out a scientific experiment, leaving Layton emotionally scarred.

It is almost impossible to not view Layton as a well rounded character, something that is almost missed in fast paced games and sometimes in novels themselves. So to me, out of all the games I have played with engaging plot and characters, it is Professor Layton that has won to me the best attention to plot and character for a video game and helps shape the argument that video games are, in fact, a new form of literature and should be treated as such.

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