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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Lost is like World of Warcraft...

A theory from here:

This is the LOST formula in a nutshell. During each show you gain a little experience in the form of new information: about the island, the characters, or both; every four episodes or so you level up, as some (allegedly) major piece of the overall puzzle falls into place. After leveling up in a CRPG, you typically head to Ye Olde Flail 'N' Scented Candle Emporium, sell all your current equipment, and buy the improved weapons that your enhanced abilities now allow you to wield; likewise, after a revelatory LOST episode, fans chuck all their old theories into the dustbin and cook up new ones consistent with the revised facts. Then, having done so, each--the player of a CRPG, or the viewer of LOST--is handed a brand new quest, or puzzle, or plot plot. The ephemeral thrill of leveling vanishes, replaced by a longing to hit the next milestone. You never disembark from the treadmill, it just goes faster.

This may sound like criticism, but it's not. It's admiration. Like the creators of World of Warcraft, the writers of LOST have managed to throw a saddle on the addictive lure of leveling and ride it to success. And bully for them. Like I said, I love this genre, even if I can visualize the levers they are pulling.

1 comment:

Matt Hanson said...

I refuse to watch this series apart from in bursts, as I need to get a good episode run in to get the adrenal/mystery glands pumping. Having just ingested series 2+3 via Virgin on-demand (where they are free to view at moment) I got a great sense of the structural nature of the writing, plot and character development. These theories definitely chime, and like you Tim I'm fascinated by the way Abrams and the Lost crew play with mystery. Thanks for making me aware of the yeti post.

I'd be interested to see how much further you could go with the analogies. For example the fights with the big boss. I've been interested in the bleed between computer game/filmic narratives and style or a while -- you should check out Matthew Barney's Cremaster for a more conceptual art take on this: Cremaster: The Order starts with Barney rotating on a plinth, text floating and rotating in the air above him, in an obvious mirror of creating your avatar at the start of many video games.