What Happens When You Play Shenmue

Article Dated: 02/06/2014


by Ben Plato


To answer this question: You have to live in the world of Shenmue.


Your “lifeworld” merges with another lifeworld – a world fully created by human beings ie: Yu Suzuki and what once was Sega.


This is different from reading a book or watching a movie.  One certainly reflects on literary and cinematographic worlds, but the subject’s free will plays no role in those other lifeworlds.  Not only is their narrative linear; more importantly, the feeling of “exploring” that lifeworld is not as strong as Shenmue’s lifeworld.


It’s important to realize that videogames are changing the world in their own way.  Thirty years ago, no one would have thought that they could’ve had such a large influence on popular culture.


The improvement of hardware’s mobility in other words, the increasing ease to merge lifeworlds – comes in the form of handheld consoles, but also with the possibilities the internet has to offer.


Massive Multiplayer Online games even allow you to interact with other people who experience the very same world as you; how can a world not be real if two people experience it at the same time, better yet if millions of people literally live a “second life” in an other lifeworld?


While this broadens and enriches lifeworlds in a sense, it is interactive narrative like Shenmue that teaches us more about things like ethics and communication.  It makes the secondary lifeworld realistic, livable, and explorable.  Unfortunately, many games still have linear narrative storytelling.


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