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I have been a video game player for as long as I have been able to. I can remember the simplicity of the Atari I had and the bowling game and my personal favorite, Pole Position. Times have changed from that era and the complexity of the modern era of games is simply amazing. A few weeks ago a game by the name of L.A. Noire (Rated M for mature and trust me, this game is. As one reviewer stated, "make sure the kids are asleep when playing this)" was released and I have found it to be, without a doubt, the hardest game I have ever played.
How is a video game relevant to my blog? L.A. Noire takes place in the 1940's and the player controls an up and coming detective through various cases. During each case the player has to interrogate various persons of interest and witnesses as well as investigate the crime scenes. Sounds easy? The asking the question part is because the clues you find at the crime scene unlocks the questions, but once the question is asked, well, that bring the tricky part about.
What's tricky? Once the question is asked the person who was asked it will answer, but they may not always be telling the truth and it is up to the player to determine whether or not they are. How is this done? By observing the person's mannerisms and... eye contact.
Here's my problem, even when playing a video game I don't look the characters in the eyes. In fact, I don't even look at the faces. Most games I play I have to turn the sub-titles on or I won't hear the words spoken because of the overload caused by looking at all the faces. For this game I do have the sub-titles on and this makes it quite difficult because the whole concept of the game is to look at the people who are speaking.
I've tried to look at the people in the game in the face, but it is the same array of sensations that I get when in person. Those sensations include a bit of anxiety, a shaky feeling in the legs, and a sense of overload. It's something that is rather uncomfortable so naturally I look elsewhere.
After a witness has stated their answer the player can choose from "truth" "doubt" or "lie". If the player thinks the statement is true, then truth is chosen. If the player thinks the witness is holding back information then doubt is the right option. If the statement is a flat out lie then lie is the option, but then the player must choose the correct piece of evidence that proves it was a lie. This is what I find the easiest because it's logical as there's concrete evidence proving it. The difference between truth and doubt can only be determined in the facial expressions and this is where I fail horribly.
Playing this game got me thinking so I watched some television last night and realized I don't look anyone in the face. I wish I would have noted this last year when I did my Sunglasses Experiment because I wonder if, after last July, I could look people in the face after wearing those sunglasses for a month. I watched several different genres of shows, news, sitcoms, and sports and the results were all the same; no eye/face contact.
I find it interesting that even though the people in the game L.A. Noire are not real and are simply animations I still have the same level of difficulty looking at them. Why is this? I sometimes in presentations will state that, "direct eye contact is like looking into a person's soul; there's just too much info for me to process" but these animations have no soul. Then why is there this level of difficulty? I can only come to the conclusion that the mere fact of trying to process what a face is doing is too much. Then again, maybe it's better to make the comparrison to trying to distinguish what a sentence means when you don't speak the language. You can try to understand it, but try as you might you don't know the language therefore as hard as you try you will get nowhere.
I plan on trying to move forward in L.A. Noire. I may be horrible at it and ill-equipped to play the game, but it is a challenge and I love challenge. On top of that I hope to learn more and experience more on the whole eye/face contact thing. I truly wish this game came out one year ago in the midst of the sunglasses experiment because would I have had better abilities then? Also, and I don't know if I answered this last year, did the sunglasses experiment train me to make eye contact or did it just lessen the anxiety? If so, have I lost the gains that I had? So many questions, so little answers. Maybe I need to do the sunglasses experiment again.