Canon -- Why do we care?

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Canon -- Why do we care?

Postby Thief » Thu Nov 19, 2015 11:32 am

It's interesting to me that so many people can care so incredibly about the canon, what "actually happened", in a fictional universe -- myself included. But in actuality, these events never happened but we treat them as if they did. Why is it that we put so much emphasis on stories having continuity or real-world relevance?

Honestly, for me, I have certain hierarchies in which I care about the events in a story. The top tier, and the canon in which I care the most, is my personal canon. If a video game has particular choices that affect the story, whatever choices I made on my original playthrough are the choices that make up my personal canon. For example, in my personal canon for Mass Effect, my Shepherd is a Male, romances Jack, and if a certain character dies, they are unfortunately dead. My personal Canon takes precedence over any other.

The next tier would be "authorship canon". This is whatever the author deems as actually happening. If authorship canon conflicts with my personal canon, then I choose to align with my personal canon. For example, in KOTOR my character is Female but in the authorship canon, the main character is Male. In this case, I choose to disregard the author's choice in favor what was established in my personal canon.

Last, and lowest in the hierarchy, is other's personal canon or disregarded authorship canon. These consist of playthroughs from people other than myself, and canons that differ from my personal canon but are no longer considered canon by the author. For example, if Jim played Mass Effect, was a girl, and sexed up Liara -- or if an author wants to abandon a certain work in a franchise in favor of a new one (aka Retcon).

Anyway, what are you personal thoughts on Canon? Do you care at all? At what level do you care?
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Re: Canon -- Why do we care?

Postby OL » Thu Nov 19, 2015 1:15 pm

Nothing wrong with caring about this stuff. Fictional stories are an escape, and if the canon established in those stories is compromised, it breaks the immersion, thus ruining that escape. It's why people argue about it, poke holes, and try to patch those holes themselves. We like our escapes.
I wouldn't really count "personal" canon as having any bearing on my own experiences whatsoever. If I decide to experience a work of fiction, I expect the author to tell me a story. It's probably why I'm far more a fan of straightforward A-to-B storytelling in videogames; I like having things set in stone. I might play through a game like Fallout: New Vegas, for example, and my own personal choices and actions aren't the things that resonate with me; the parts that really get my attention are the lore and backstory. The choices I make are practically negligible, because they don't have any bearing on the experiences of fellow audience members; I prefer the story points that I can concretely converse with others on, with no variation due to my choices or theirs. When those variations pop up, it just feels less "official." Maybe this is why I've never become all that interested in Telltale's games, despite all the praise they get (subject matter notwithstanding; I generally have no interest in The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones). Because everything I hear says that they're fully concerned with making your own choices, and to me that makes things feel less canonical. I don't think they'd affect me with the same power that they do for other people. Same for something like Mass Effect. I might not mind open-ended things like this just for a fun go-around, but I'm probably not going to be all that invested in their stories, because it's me making the choices.
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Re: Canon -- Why do we care?

Postby myshtuff » Fri Nov 20, 2015 11:38 am

I was so confused because I thought you were speaking about the camera brand. ](*,)

I am all for canon, but at the same time stories get boring. For example, I love Batman. I have so many damn Batman graphic novels, movies, shows, and games. After 70+ years you run into the same stories alot. Therefore, I am willing to accept shakeups to this timeline to see what new people can do. I don't feel like that for every story, but sometimes it can be good.
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Re: Canon -- Why do we care?

Postby Mark James G » Fri Nov 20, 2015 4:28 pm

Thief wrote: It's interesting to me that so many people can care so incredibly about the canon, what "actually happened", in a fictional universe -- myself included. But in actuality, these events never happened but we treat them as if they did. Why is it that we put so much emphasis on stories having continuity or real-world relevance?

Honestly, for me, I have certain hierarchies in which I care about the events in a story. The top tier, and the canon in which I care the most, is my personal canon. If a video game has particular choices that affect the story, whatever choices I made on my original playthrough are the choices that make up my personal canon. For example, in my personal canon for Mass Effect, my Shepherd is a Male, romances Jack, and if a certain character dies, they are unfortunately dead. My personal Canon takes precedence over any other.

The next tier would be "authorship canon". This is whatever the author deems as actually happening. If authorship canon conflicts with my personal canon, then I choose to align with my personal canon. For example, in KOTOR my character is Female but in the authorship canon, the main character is Male. In this case, I choose to disregard the author's choice in favor what was established in my personal canon.

Last, and lowest in the hierarchy, is other's personal canon or disregarded authorship canon. These consist of playthroughs from people other than myself, and canons that differ from my personal canon but are no longer considered canon by the author. For example, if Jim played Mass Effect, was a girl, and sexed up Liara -- or if an author wants to abandon a certain work in a franchise in favor of a new one (aka Retcon).

Anyway, what are you personal thoughts on Canon? Do you care at all? At what level do you care?


I think it depends on the context in which you're using canon. For example; if you were to setup a Role Playing community and wanted validation inside of this theme you're creating you would want to appeal to like minded people by enforcing rules around canon elements. Otherwise you end up with something that is really the furthest from.

In other instances it helps establish some kind of ground rules for a setting which may or may not be grounded in any kind of reality, either way this world / creation needs to have something wrapped around that people can understand to some degree.

There really isn't anything wrong with shake-ups if you're feeling stale with it but again it totally depends on the context of where it is being applied and why. I'm a half in the bag kind of guy myself. I'm a stickler for aesthetics but otherwise you could throw in all kinds of nonsense my way and if it fits the aesthetic then i'd be willing to accept it. If I find myself not accepting some kind of canon then I typically just lose interest.

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Re: Canon -- Why do we care?

Postby Riku Rose » Sat Nov 21, 2015 7:26 am

I still shake with anger at how in Rocky IV his son is about 6 and at the start of Rocky V when he comes back from Russia a few weeks later his son is a teenager.

OL wrote: Maybe this is why I've never become all that interested in Telltale's games, despite all the praise they get (subject matter notwithstanding; I generally have no interest in The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones). Because everything I hear says that they're fully concerned with making your own choices, and to me that makes things feel less canonical. I don't think they'd affect me with the same power that they do for other people. Same for something like Mass Effect. I might not mind open-ended things like this just for a fun go-around, but I'm probably not going to be all that invested in their stories, because it's me making the choices.


Bear in mind I'm speaking as someone who is a huge Telltale slut. All their games have the exact same start and end save for the odd thing here or there, there are just little nuggets along the way that change certain conversations or ways someone will react in a scene. It's mostly like how in Final Fantasy VII how you answer questions to people effects who you go on the date with at the Golden Saucer, after that short scene the rest of the game carries on as normal. A friend and I played the Walking Dead games at the same time and sure we talked about what was different for each of us but 90% of the story was the exact same for us. A lot of people call them an interactive choose your own adventure book but I'd say they're more a modern point and click adventure.
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Re: Canon -- Why do we care?

Postby Monkei » Sat Nov 21, 2015 1:30 pm

^ I'd say they're kinda both, but for actual adventure games they'd need a couple more puzzles - there's really not much of a challenge there. Concerning the decisions, you actually do get so decide about who lives and who dies a lot, by saving or not saving and killing or not killing certain characters.. in most cases that decision is only relevant for a couple of episodes of course. A friend of mine had some interesting variations in his Tales from the Borderlands ending. The final episodes of both The Walking Dead: Season 2 and Game of Thrones also leave a lot of room for significantly different outcomes.

Don't have much to add to the topic's original question, I think pretty much everything has been said and immersion is an important keyword.
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Re: Canon -- Why do we care?

Postby Ryuuji95 » Wed Nov 25, 2015 1:32 am

weird at first i thought this was about canon Cameras. lol.

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Re: Canon -- Why do we care?

Postby MiTT3NZ » Thu Dec 10, 2015 6:29 pm

Batman is real, the comics are just fragments of his story to eventually be collected into a bible, and the writers who get shit wrong are therefore committing blasphemy. It's a big deal in our religion.
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Re: Canon -- Why do we care?

Postby Axm » Thu Dec 10, 2015 10:08 pm

Ryuuji95 wrote:weird at first i thought this was about canon Cameras. lol.

As a camera guy I also thought this. Especially since these days competitors are beating Canon and loyalty is dropping lol.

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Re: Canon -- Why do we care?

Postby Kenny » Sat Dec 12, 2015 1:54 pm

Are we talking about just games?

In that case, yeah. I think it matters a whole lot. After "beating" MGS5 and going through the additional story missions, as well as looking some stuff up, I finally stopped caring about the MG storyline. It's so messed up and emotionally detached from the first Solid game, that I could care less now what happens to Snake and company at this point.

The reason why those games took off the way they did (other than the hide-and-seek gameplay which was revolutionary at the time) was because of the story. It's a bit silly and contrived even in the beginning, but it worked. It worked very well. Then MGS2 happened. That pissed off quite alot of people except the ones who don't care about emotional storytelling, only how clever the twists could get. MGS3 brought it back again only to be destroyed once more by 4 and then finally 5.

Sure the games got better on a play standpoint, but who cares? I can play anything I want now even on my phone. If I want an emotionless, detached experience I just play TCT or COC. I play MGS for the story first and the gameplay is supposed to enhance that story.


Anyway, I'm going off on a tangent, but whatever the creator sanctions as "canon"? The thing we should accept as an audience? It's really damn important because you can't undo that. You can pretend for as long as you want, but you know that deep down inside...

Johnny "shit my pants" Sasaki is engaged to Meryl Silverburgh. Solidus is a blob of flesh. Snake spent the enormity of MGS2 just trying to tell Raiden to pass on his genes.


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Re: Canon -- Why do we care?

Postby Henry Spencer » Sat Dec 12, 2015 3:19 pm

Kenny wrote: Are we talking about just games?

In that case, yeah. I think it matters a whole lot. After "beating" MGS5 and going through the additional story missions, as well as looking some stuff up, I finally stopped caring about the MG storyline. It's so messed up and emotionally detached from the first Solid game, that I could care less now what happens to Snake and company at this point.


That honestly happened to me after MGS4 came out. It was just so obvious to me that Kojima just stopped giving a shit, so why should I? I'm pretty glad he can move on from Konami now and possibly do something else cool like a Silent Hills/P.T. spiritual successor or a new IP set playing as a detective in a cyberpunk world like Snatcher, or something else really fucking cool like that, at least.
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Re: Canon -- Why do we care?

Postby Rakim » Sat Dec 12, 2015 5:56 pm

I still think MGS2 is great. It gets a lot of shit, but it's right up there with MGS1 and Snake Eater for me.

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