Video games have always been synonymous with children’s pastimes. Often seen as immature, people associate video game experiences with a player getting the next high score on a level or a short Italian plumber in a red hat. However, gaming has evolved since its early beginnings back in the 1970s.
Still a relatively new medium, video games have grown in ways people couldn’t have expected. No longer are they about reaching the next level. Rather, they are deeper, more meaningful and engrossing experiences. When games are at their peak, they are vessels for stories that would otherwise fail in other types of media.
Moreover, video games are rivaling the production of mediums such as TV and film. Games are being developed on a blockbuster scale, leaving many in awe with its ability to entertain in a more interactive way. It’s taken years to get to this point, but it all began in 2007 when developer Naughty Dog introduced the world to the “Uncharted” franchise with “Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune.”
Naughty Dog was best known back in those days as the developers of “Jak & Daxter” and “Crash Bandicoot.” Bothcartoonish platformerswere critically acclaimed. However, both lacked the depth that Naughty Dog wanted. They wanted to create a franchise that would be as big as a summer blockbuster, but with the drama and weight of a good book.
Their goal was to create characters that would resonate with gamers and create action that was meaningful. What they developed was a pulp action, “Indiana Jones” influenced adventure, becoming not only the face of PlayStation, but the pinnacle of action/adventure games.
The “Uncharted” series follows a treasure hunter named Nathan Drake, along with his friends Victor Sullivan and Elena Fisher, on adventures searching for treasures of legend such as the city of El Dorado, Shambala, and Iram of the Pillars.
“Uncharted” has set the highest standard in game development thanks to its amazing writing and seamless transition between gameplay and cinematics. The “Uncharted” franchise was one of the first ever games to ever use motion capture in its acting performances. Treating their games like they are films, Naughty Dog has a whole team of directors, producers and writers dedicated to delivering top-notch performances from their actors. In terms of gameplay, Naughty Dog wanted to give players control of huge set piece moments that would otherwise be cut scenes in other video games.
In 2009, Naughty Dog raised the bar with “Uncharted 2: Among Thieves” in terms of gameplay, writing and aesthetics. It won the highly coveted “Game of the Year” award from DICE (the Oscars of video games). The game received critical acclaim because of its technological push in gameplay. They were the first to ever create epic playable scenes in gaming. In addition, their biggest honor was in the award for best writing.
Naughty Dog has always valued story among any other aspect in their games. Games are supposed to evoke emotion within the players. Every entry in the “Uncharted” franchise has done that. Nathan Drake is an everyman, a character that, at the end of the day, is human. The conflicts he faces in his relationships, his fears, are ones people face every day. The stories that Naughty Dog creates may be larger than life, but they ground them in emotion to leave a mark on its players.
Few games have ever matched the success of the “Uncharted” franchise. As today marks the launch day for “Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End,” Naughty Dog keeps proving that they are at the top of their field.