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TIGSource ForumsCommunityTownhallForum IssuesArchived subforums (read only)CreativeWritingWhat does it mean for writing to be 'self aware'?
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dariuou
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« on: November 14, 2014, 08:39:48 AM »

My game has gotten to the point where pretty much all I have left is content creation. So I've begun thinking a lot about my writing and how to make sure it's at its best.

One thing I notice in a lot of game reviews is that reviewers say that a game is self-aware. And it's always a good thing, it's also not uncommon for a reviewer to criticize a game for not being self aware. I feel like I have a vague idea of what that means, but not enough to explain it to someone, and certainly not enough to be able to judge whether my writing is self-aware or not.

So I'm hoping someone here has a good idea of what it means for writing to be self-aware, and what you can do to help your writing be self aware. I know that there are many virtues that good writing requires, but this seems to be one that gets brought up a lot. Thanks.
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vaaasm
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« Reply #1 on: November 16, 2014, 02:06:18 PM »

I'm probably wrong, but I believe it refers to how the player is still aware that the concept being proposed to them in the writing is after all not real. A way to remind you that after all it is just a game
« Last Edit: November 16, 2014, 02:11:37 PM by Vaasm » Logged

Siilk
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« Reply #2 on: November 16, 2014, 09:21:36 PM »

One thing I notice in a lot of game reviews is that reviewers say that a game is self-aware. And it's always a good thing, it's also not uncommon for a reviewer to criticize a game for not being self aware.
If this is the sole reason you want to add "self-awareness" into your writing, you are better off not doing that, it will feel artificial. It's like adding lazers and dinosaurs to a random game in hope to make it "20% cooler".
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Rarykos
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« Reply #3 on: November 17, 2014, 09:46:31 AM »

A game is self-aware either because it breaks the 4th wall (which eh, might be good but usually isn't) and characters know they're in a game or something like that.

More likely a game is self-aware because the creator knows it's kitschy or belongs to a certain genre and goes over the top with it and doesn't try to make it a deeper or a different game .

Think of the movies Django from Tarantino, that would be a good example of a self-aware movie, it's a B-movie , it knows what it wants to be and plays to all its strengths and doesn't try to be anything greater or deeper just for the sake of being deep.

Just find out what your story is about and throw out all the parts that don't contribute to the experience you want to provide. Try to deliver this experience as best as you can!
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Ninety
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« Reply #4 on: November 30, 2014, 05:18:42 PM »

^ Pretty much this. If you're going for a light-hearted shoot-em-up, don't try and shoehorn in a cutscene where the protagonist's father dies. Likewise if you're going for a dark, morbid revenge story, don't make a level where you have to battle candy monsters from space. Pick a tone and stick to it. Generally though, when we talk about things being "self-aware" it means the creator realises it's silly/ridiculous and plays it for laughs.
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Alder
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« Reply #5 on: December 04, 2014, 07:51:03 AM »

Self-awareness is the principle whereby you understand and are capable of responding to the the way you are perceived by others.

It's considered a good thing because often with bad writing there's a disconnect between what the writer has achieved with their particular skill level and what they think they've achieved/need to have achieved for the rest of the story to pay off. We might call this pretension if it goes one way or unexplored potential if it goes the other. Self-aware writing ideally has a good itinerary of its own qualities or shortcomings and doesn't head into territory it can't handle.
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quan
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« Reply #6 on: January 09, 2015, 03:45:46 AM »

A good example is character action games like DMC series, Bayonetta and MGR:R. They are all full of unrealistic physics and over the top action, it's all a lot of fun and none of those games pretend that there is some sort of work around to the things you are witnessing. These games know that the action taking place is impossible and they accept that fact and just roll with it. They also don't necessarily sacrifice good story telling because of the self aware writing.
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