Day 48- video games as art?
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Well, why not? Roger Ebert doesn't think so, and I share some of his concerns; I however, think they can be, but--like any other narrative art--there's a lot of swill mixing in with the good stuff.
And I say all of this as a fan of video games. I'm going to run through a list of some of the good and bad aspects of video games, with maybe a few words on where games can go from here. And one more preface--most of the comments with deal with the games that have inherent narrative structure, though some will deal with straight puzzle games, and so on.
- Video games are as diverse as cinema, I'd wager, and lumping them all together ("video games are stupid!") seems almost like saying "books are boring!"
- As much hope as I have for video games as a potentially beautiful, innovative storytelling medium, some of it lurks in the gutter with no desire to escape. Many popular games focus solely on violence or mindless button clicking. I guess you can say the same about movies and books and music too.
- Harsh critics of video games are willing to point out the negatives ("they're making kids into mass murderers!") but aren't as willing to admit positives ("that video game had a good plot," or "I surprisingly became learned a lot about team-work from 'Ghost Recon'"). The inverse happens just as often: many video game defendants gloss over any flaws, always talking about how fun the games are and how they help eye-hand coordination or whatever. I think people creating video games need to look at the limitations of the medium (if limitation is the right word) and try to emphasize certain elements over others.
- And, as a continuation of the above point, resorting to action in a game to make the game longer makes as much sense as adding twenty pages of pointless sex fatten up a novel. As much as I love the game "Half-Life," it was about a fifth too long. Many consider the game revolutionary for a very good reason (complex story, very nuance/detail-oriented, unexpectly witty, beautiful images), but in a few spots, whenever things start the drag, the gamemakers toss in some action and violence to keep it up. Bad move.
- Games that provide good stories are becoming more and more common, but some people are mistaking "tossed-together, head-scratching plot" with "good story."
Anyone else have any thoughts on this?
posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 10/24/2006 12:04:00 AM,