in Business, Creativity, Motivation, Music, News, Philosophy, Psychology, Science

Breaking The Fourth Wall

Aaaand, videogames! Yes, yes. You and I are going there again. Grab my hand and let’s skedaddle!

I’ve taken two days off to play GTA 5 since it now features first person view.

I’m calling it research but let’s face it, it’s mainly for “shits and giggles”. Those two are a pair aren’t they?

Andrey Shwidkiy - Carnival Duet 1

This is what I imagine “Shits & Giggles” would look like. Check out the artist Andrey Shwidkiy this one is called “Carnival Duet I”.

I didn’t think it’d change the gameplay that much but it kinda did. You’re walking down the street and bump into a pedestrian. Sorry, what I meant to say was: You’re running down the street and lunging yourself into people. Then they get more than a little peeved and start chasing you. You get hit in the back of the head and after getting up proceed to beating the living snot out of them.

After boosting a car and jetted off to the next mission but suddenly felt bad. I felt like, man, that was a little too much. I mean, i’ve done it in previous GTA:s and other games. Then I started realizing something.

If there’s a genre I generally don’t like it’s the first person shooter, the exception being the “Borderlands”-series. That’s just plain ol’ fun! I played most of Skyrim in 3rd person and… Whoomp, there it is!


Watch out, we got a badass over here!

Sure, whenever I get a chance to model my characters I throw in some of my own personality and looks. But I like to place myself outside of the characters i’m playing. Keep them at a safe distance you know?

We talked about how games could be something more than “just games”. This feeling was what I was talking about. When I was merely witnessing the character doing that stuff it was easy to write off as the characters personality.

Now I was the one doing these things from my own point of view. Ugh, I did not like it one teensy bit. Don’t get me wrong, i’m still going to play! I’m just not going to provoke people and drive a bit more cautiously. Having a guy slam into your windshield while you’re grooving to Stevie Wonder will activate the amygdala.

Stevie Wonder

Don’t Stevie and drive kids! In fact if you’re a kid don’t drive, period!

Can we find parallels to other forms of art? You betcha! This leads us to “The Fourth Wall”.

Imagine that you’re in a theater. You see the left wall, you see the right wall and you see the back wall. The fourth wall is the front wall, this is your window into the scene. In movies the camera works as the fourth wall.

There’s a phenomena called “Breaking The Fourth Wall”. You see it in movies, TV, cartoons, books and sometimes even in videogames!

Being a kid in the late 80’s and 90’s I loved seeing this and i’ll list some examples below.

Zack Morris

Ah, Zack Morris… His ability to “time out” and adress the audience was trés magnifique!

Deadpool & Bullseye

I could never leave out my darling Deadpool!

Pinkie Pie

And for all you “bronies” out there: Pinkie Pie!

And this relates HOW exactly? Well, whether you’re telling a story, making a videogame or writing a script you want to involve your audience. Make them feel something.

As an example i’ll take something Ralph Murphy talks about in his book “Murphy’s Laws of Songwriting”. He says that one of the most effective tools a songwriter has is the word “you”. Bam! There we go!

That’s basically breaking the fourth wall by talking directly to the listener. James Blunt’s “You’re Beautiful” anyone? Never mind if you like the song, it just speaks to you directly.

There’s a lot of useful tools and other uses of the word “you” so I suggest grabbing a copy of his book whatever field you’re in. The principles can be used anywhere!

So what can we learn from this?

If we involve people in the story we’re telling (tv, books, advertising et al!) we’ve got them really feeling. If we make them feel then we might just make them reflect as well. When these two marry, people go away talking about bigger ideas. They can impact their decisions in life!

Now, i’d like to end by sharing this gem in the history of television. Take it away Alfonso Ribeiro!

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