News + Mass Effect Legendary Edition: what does moving a camera involve?

In any audiovisual product the camera represents a look, which depending on the type of shot can be objective - when the camera offers an external view, as a spectator alien to the whole scene, called the third person - or subjective - showing what a character sees in first person, or what their attention is focused on. THE videogames I'm not far behind.

Indeed, the camera in video games has even greater facets, because the player is active in the scene, whether subjective or objective. In a videogame, the gaze is therefore decided by those who program and develop the game, but the spectator is allowed to actively work on it, thus making it an active subject.

In these gazes, in these camera constructions, there is an entire universe.

To learn more:
Cinema and Videogames: a comparative history.

During an interview for the British newspaper Metro, the project director Mac Walters and the character and environment director Kevin Meek were interviewed about the new remake of the first three chapters of the Mass Effect saga, which will be released (pandemic hitches permitting) in a few months. In the interview, Meek and Walters talk about everything they wanted to change graphically and technically, and what they actually managed to do.

"[…] And then specifically around the animations, we couldn't really change a lot of those, but there were times where you could change the camera to not focus on one of those animations. So a male Shepherd animation would have him sitting with his legs quite wide open with a low camera where, if you were wearing a skirt, it would be a bit unflattering. So we can't necessarily change that animation, but you can raise that camera up slightly to reduce the problem. "

Kevin Meek

“[…] Then, in particular, regarding the animations, we couldn't really change many of them, but there are times when you can change the camera, so that you don't have the visual focus on one of those animations. Like the animation of a man Shepard that sees him sitting with his legs fairly spread and with a low camera, which if you're wearing a miniskirt would be a bit unflattering. This way, we can't necessarily change the animation, but you can raise the camera slightly to reduce the problem. "

Kevin Meek

Looking at the first chapters of the saga, Meek he notices some shots - initially escaped or not considered - which involuntarily show Shepard's underwear and inner thighs, if she is chosen as a woman. However, these they are not the only looks on the camera that the character and environment director notes and on which he questions.

"I do think a lot of things have evolved since [the original games] but I don't know if I would say we were ultra-concerned about it or anything like that, but there were considerations. Kevin actually called out some camera cuts that were just… why was that focusing on Miranda's butt? So in some cases we said: "Okay, we can make a change there". But ultimately, to change an entire character model or something like that wasn't really… it was a decision that was made as part of many creative decisions and just showing it at the best possible fidelity that we could going forward is really the choice for all of the art that we had. "

Mac Walters

“I think a lot of things have evolved [from the original games], but I don't know if I can say that we were extremely worried about this or another, but there were considerations. Kevin actually called some camera cuts that were simply… why was he focusing on Miranda's butt? So in some cases we have said, "Okay, here we can make a change". But in the end, changing the model of an entire character or something like that wasn't quite… it was a decision made as part of numerous creative decisions and it's only by showing it with the best possible fidelity that we could move forward; it's really the choice for all the art we had. "

Mac Walters

Not being able to directly modify the characters or entire scenes, the camera is the element that has undergone the most modifications. Especially in the shots aimed at the bodies of female characters, such as those aimed at the butt of the character of Miranda.

Here I make a confession, in the most total and vulnerable sincerity: I don't know how to talk about this change of camera.

On the one hand, I'm happy with that, because those shots are an example of what is defined Male gaze, or "male gaze": a visual language that conveys a certain type of masculinity, very toxic.

To learn more:
Horizon: Zero Dawn - Aloy you are not enough

The Legendary Edition is not a patch that acts directly on the original game, but it is a remake, an “other” game, which does not have to be a literal transposition. From a, let's say, "philological" point of view, the Legendary Edition turns out to be so of great importance, because it testifies a change thought and wanted by authors - which, from my point of view, they are the only ones who have the right to modify their product - thus showing an evolution of their thinking, and their attempt to better convey a message by operating directly on the language at their disposal (the visual one).

On the other hand, however, I have the impression that at the basis of this choice there is a sort of self-censorship, and that modify in this way the work goes to deprive it of an "educational" element, losing the opportunity to underline the absurdity and thus push for reflection. Many classic works - whether they are literary, pictorial, theatrical, cinematographic etc ... - magazines with a modern eye present elements that would certainly and rightly have been the subject of violent criticism if they had been made in our day (racism, classism, misogyny, sexism etc ... ). However, a work can be of great value also because of these elements. It becomes an example that we must observe, analyze and assimilate, understanding its negative value, thus learning to condemn it in our daily life.

Malpelo was called that because he had red hair; and he had red hair because he was a mischievous and mean boy.

Show the absurdity of a statement or action has an impact communicative by far greater than completely eliminating it.

Those who approach Mass Effect for the first time thanks to this new edition will have another product in their hands, something different. Their experience will be unlike that of those who have only played the originals. Those who play both will witness a change - whether this is desired following an authorial maturation or the result of an external imposition - and he will be able to develop his own vision of the game by coming into possession of a greater number of information.

Evil gaze

As I mentioned earlier, those shots are an example of Male gaze, an extremely complex subject that manifests itself in many different ways.

In 1975, film criticism and theorist Laura Mulvey she publishes the essay Visual pleasure and narrative cinema, where she questions the relationships between male and female characters within audiovisual representations, studying classic American cinema and contemporary productions. In his remarks, Mulvey associates the point of view - conveyed by the camera - with pleasure, understood not only as pleasure given by the vision, but also from the point of view of erotic and sexual desire.

In this relationship between the observer and what is observed there are three levels:

thenarrating instance, that is, who tells the story through the camera. He is the first filter of the narrative, the one who manages the point of view of the scene by deciding what to show, and it is the one who "desires" the element shown. The second level is the subject represented, that is the body of a female character, which thus finds itself to be the desired object. The third point of view is related to target, because this type of narration wants to address - in almost absolute totality - a male, heterosexual, cisgender spectator. The viewer must identify with the camera, and must desire, like the character, the women represented.

In all this, what remains of the female figures? They are objects placed under many eyes: the camera, the characters and the viewer. They are reduced to simple objects of vision.

This way of visually representing female bodies is defined by Mulvey Male gaze.

In Mass Effect, Miranda Lawson he is a character extremely aware of his own sexual charge. Her finding and feeling good about herself and her sensuality make her an iconic, and decidedly positive, character. However, those shots have no particular relationship with his character. They don't help define Miranda's self-awareness. They are images placed by a director's eye on a detail of his body, thus making it a mere object of vision for the viewer that, looking at the scene, he must desire it e feel pleasure. If the eyes of Miranda's interlocutor, for example, were directed towards her lower abdomen during these dialogues, the shot would acquire a character and psychological importance. But that's not the case.

The more we progress, the more we realize how complex individuals we humans are. If art is truly an expression of us, then language - in all its forms - must know how to change to allow us to express this complexity of ours.

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