As I was playing Assassin’s Creed 2, I felt myself going into a particular state of thought. The game had me by the horns, thinking like an assassin – quick on my feet, willing to dodge a fight, attacking when I was least suspected.
Typically, I stick with one game at a time to completely immerse myself in its world. Things are easier that way, as I don’t have to adjust to different control schemes or completely shift my behavior on a dime. However, in this populated holiday game season, I found myself playing two games back to back, Assassin’s Creed 2 and Modern Warfare 2. This situation eventually left me blurring the lines between these two realities in a way startlingly similar to what’s known as the Bleeding Effect.
Psychologists out there are probably rubbing their chins right now, considering what exactly I’m talking about. Without going too deeply into spoiler territory (if you’re especially fearful of spoilers, skip to after the next image), the world of Assassin’s Creed is one where big corporations have the bankroll to intensely research whatever they want for the sake of dominance.
Abstergo Industries is one such company who discovered that memories are genetic. A machine named the Animus gives people the ability to access genetic memories, essentially mentally possessing their ancestors. However, this process comes with consequences, one being the Bleeding Effect.
The Bleeding Effect is when the memories of the ancestor “bleed” into the descendant, resulting in the merged perception of two realities. Admittedly, I’m not quite crazy enough to think that that storylines of Assassin’s Creed and Modern Warfare are somehow linked, but I felt the blending of those two experiences as I played the games simultaneously.
After playing several hours of Assassin’s Creed 2, I entered Modern Warfare 2 Team Deathmatch with those memories fresh in my mind. I found myself using my stealth class with far more efficiency and frequency, wielding the Marathon, Cold-Blooded, and Ninja perks aside my trusty SMG/shotgun combo with startling success.
I naturally backed away from firefights, stalking behind enemy lines into a welcoming dark corner to wait for my prey. With a hit-and-fade, I dispatch a group of unsuspecting targets and dash to the far side of the enemy compound. As the allies of the fallen swoop upon the previous point of engagement, I peer down the thermal sight of my SMG and score another three kills.
This is a total shift from my usual style of play. I usually rely upon my quick reflexes to wipe out as many foes as possible before ultimately meeting my demise, probably not an unfamiliar strategy to the game’s audience. My time with the shooter is eventually cut short, but not before I’ve felt totally transferred to the bullet-laden, war torn landscape of Team Deathmatch.
The next day, I get back to the streets of renaissance Venice, sliding my hidden blades into the throats of suspicious guards. I’m fed by a newfound bloodthirst, however, as my throwing knives are depleted rapidly and the blood of my knife grows thick. Whereas I usually dispatch my foes with the efficiency and subtlety of an assassin, now I’m using brute strength to wipe out as many as I can.
What happened? I eventually realized that my behavior between these two games blended together into one. Ezio quickly became a mass murderer and my avatar in Modern Warfare 2 became slippery like a fox. Thinking back, this doesn’t seem to be an independent event.
In fact, I clearly remember a similar situation with Gears of War 2 and Fallout 3. I typically draw out Bethesda games as long as I can, but Fallout 3 was completed with a calculated rush to the finish. On the other hand, I tended to sift every extra minute out of Gears of War 2, exploring the landscapes and trying out different weapons quite often.
Unlike other media, video games often offer a protracted experience. Most of the shortest modern games run far longer than most movies, rarely designed to be completed in one long session of play. In this way, games are unique because they give the consumer the chance to really introspectively observe how they interact with different aspects of their favorite games.
For me, the time I’ve spent with both Assassin’s Creed 2 and Modern Warfare 2 has been fantastic, probably enhanced even further due to the fact that my style of play could be so easily influenced by the opposite game. In a completely unexpected way, the combination of these two pieces of media resulted in more than the sum of their parts.
Has this ever happened to you? Has one game prominently influenced the way you play another? Have you experienced the Bleeding Effect?