Behind the Adventure

In any adventure that isn’t of our own making, there’s a whole cast of people who work behind the scenes to write it, design it, illustrate it, and eventually get it into your hands. Most of the time, we either aren’t exposed to this list of names, or (like in a movie) we don’t pay it much mind. But if you think about it, a ton of work goes into these adventures, and this value can differ from medium to medium.

First, here are some well-known examples of some of these mediums.

  • Online Game: World of Warcraft (2004): Based on information from allgame.com, I counted there being almost 580 credits. This includes repeated names, of which there surely were a few, and is a count of how many specific jobs were required.
  • Movie: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005): Based on information from imbd.com, I counted there being more than 1200 credits (I gave up, there were a lot more). Also includes repeats.
  • Console Game: Legend of Zelda, Twilight Princess (2006): Based on information from allgame.com, I counted there being only about 160 credits. This doesn’t include credits such as the Super Mario Club, which is composed of many more people.
  • Books: I really couldn’t find a good example where it had a reliable list of people included in the process, so I’m going to generalize it. The most important credit is the author, with possibly an editor, agent, and publisher. If you add on the names of friends and beta readers, you might have a total close to 20. Let’s put it this way: less than 100.

All of these numbers assume that a) the information was reliable, and b) I counted correctly, but I think they give a pretty good idea of just how much work can go into each of the different types of adventures. So what on earth do they mean?

The way I look at it is this: The amount of work done by the creators is relative to how difficult it is to involve the consumer.

In a book, which has the smallest number of credits, it doesn’t take much to bring the reader into the adventure and get them sympathizing with the hero. Whenever you provide someone with written words, the impression they get is completely determined by what they can imagine. That means it isn’t hard to get them to participate in the adventure, because they start participating from the very first sentence, when they begin to imagine the situation. This is something that one person can do alone, speaking heart-to-heart from author to reader.

Console games have the second-smallest number of credits, and this doesn’t surprise me. In most console games, you play the sole hero, making actions in that hero’s shoes and directly affecting the story and the world. It’s pretty easy to get the player participating in the adventure because they’re the one who’s actually running the adventure. When the game also encourages choices, the player is even more engaged.

Online games have the second-highest number. In most online games, where the focus is on cooperative play, your character is no longer the “sole hero” of the world. You have to account for the actions and influences of all the other players playing the game and affecting the world at the same time, and so it’s harder to feel as if you actually have an important impact on the adventure being presented to you.

In movies, with the highest credit number of all the mediums, it’s rather difficult to get the audience involved in the story and feel a part of the adventure. The watcher has no effect on the plotline, the characters, the world–they’re simply an observer being told a story that they can’t control in any way. Feeling a part of the adventure is much more difficult when you don’t play an active role in it.

The way I see it, there are more people involved in the difficult mediums because there’s more pressure to make a good product. Even though books control the story, they leave a whole world of open interpretation as far as visuals go. And while video games control both story and visuals, they allow players to make choices. So movies, which control story, visuals, and choices, need tons of people to deliver the best product they can possibly make–something that will draw the watchers in and speak the message of the adventure right into their hearts.

It’s kind of neat to think about all of the background work that has to go into adventures like these, and to think of how massive an endeavour movie production must be, compared to publishing a book. Just goes to show that there’s more to crafting the perfect adventure than just a good story. It takes a whole lotta work.

Which pre-crafted adventures can you think of that truly engaged you as the consumer and made you a part of the adventure? How much work went into them?

May you always find the energy to put enough work into your adventure, or at least the appreciation to enjoy someone else’s.

-Alex

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