Archive for June, 2009

Grow up, gaming

Posted in Gaming on June 6, 2009 by J-Man

Gaming is an art form. And if you disagree, you haven’t played a game. Gaming is the most unique art form out there, but it is born of various others. All games have music, most have cutscenes, a lot have writing and the only truly unique part is the interactivity. But why is gaming often marginalised and dismissed as something only for children?

The typical excuse is that gaming is a young art form, like a child, still obsessed by little toy soldiers and guns. Here’s some quotes from Heather Chaplin, an experienced game critic:

“But after thirty-five years rock & roll had Bob Dylan, the Beatles, and the Clash. After thirty-five years film had Fritz Lang, film noire, and was a few years away from Citizen Kane.”

“It’s not that the medium is in its adolescence, it’s that you’re a bunch of fucking adolescents.”

True dat. How many more games are there going to be about marines and aliens? How many more UTs and CODs do there have to be before someone looks up from their work and goes “Hang on guys!”

Even the games that aren’t about mindless violence are very basic and are only art in the loosest form of the word (I’m looking at Football Manager here). We need the gaming equivalent of a Stanley Kubrick or a Hitchcock film.

We need the games that build up slowly, focusing on characters and the setting. I could name a dozen games off the top of my head about fighting aliens (Halo, Crysis, Half-Life etc.), another dozen about WW2 (Brothers in Arms, Call of Duty, Medal of Honor, Company of Heroes) and a lot more about assassins (Hitman, Assassin’s Creed). I can name 3 that made me think about anything more than how many bullets are left in my mag. Three. It’s disgusting. And one of those is from 9 years ago.

We need more games like Thief, Deus Ex and Bioshock. Thief had an incredibly original story set in a pseudo-medieval world that encouraged you to avoid killing.

Deus Ex had a whole set of memorable characters, and endless ways to influence the story.

Bioshock had an amazing setting, chilling scenes and a generally horrific setting.

Games can have violence, but when they have the amount found in something like Gears of War, any significance it has is lost. I should feel horrified I had to resort to killing someone. In Call of Duty, the violence becomes absolutely meaningless beyond a line of text telling me to clear a building.

As long as gaming features characters wearing this sort of stuff,

Art.

I don’t blame people for thinking games are for kids.