Okay it’s that time to get this week’s most interesting bits of writing all in the same room without them causing a fight – it’s time for This Week In Videogame Blogging.
At the very new blog ‘The Game Saver’ the author has a hugely provocative essay this week on games/art, etc. It’s also problematic in a couple of ways, but I’ll leave the interpretation of it up to you, dear readers, for now let’s just say it’s worth reading. Here’s the polemic opening:
…what I am about to say is tragically controversial: there is an objectively correct way to read books, watch movies, view paintings, and play games.
It is the artists themselves who are responsible for this confusion. Right now games schizophrenically tear themselves apart, desiring to be both primarily games and primarily art, though no such thing is possible. This is evident even in the naming of the medium. They are called “games,” but games are meant to be played, not experienced as art.
Dangerous territory indeed, but I think I see where this is going:
Uncharted 2 exemplifies this. One can play it as a game, spending his time looking compulsively in every area for extra treasure, or one can interact with it as art, going from place to place, advancing the action in an integrated way. One cannot do both. If the player scours obsessively for secrets and treasures, he completely breaks the pacing of the game, greatly diminishing its impact, and if he plays for the story, for the artistic, narrative aspect of the game, few things can ruin his experience as immensely as flawed pacing.
Let’s turn now to the online blog component of KillScreen magazine which has been pumping out some excellent writing, in the form of interviews, reviews-slash-criticism, and some interesting regular columns. Tom Armitage has started one of these columns just this very week, called the Game Design of Everyday Things. The first instalment is about buttons. One of those review-slash-criticism piece, and for my money a great example of Procedural Rhetoric (to use Ian Bogost’s phrase) is J. Nicholas Geist’s just-interactive-enough review of the iOS game Infinity Blade (according to one editor: “Josh conceived, wrote, and built the thing”). Don’t forget to push the buttons.
At the also excellent Rock Paper Shotgun Jim Rossignol wants a sequel to Brink. Or rather, he wants the fiction of Brink to turn up in another game as he feels it would be a bit of a waste not to see it explored further.
Julian “Rabbit” Murdoch at Gamers with Jobs thinks that he’d always “Take The Shot”, but not because he actually wants to, but because he’s learnt to always take the shot:
But what if he puts his hands up? Or runs? Do I risk trying to tackle the man, cuff him and get him to the copter? I think I still take the shot.
Award winning director Peter Greenaway is interviewed by the blog for ‘The University of Western Australia in Second Life’ about Machinima, and explains his intriguing views on the subject:
Do you think that machinima could in some ways revolutionize conventional cinema? If yes, in what ways?
Poor analogy. We don’t want to revolutionise cinema – which is socially mass-audience-organised illustrated text – we need to start something new here – and that newness is also very importantly associated with viewer participation, viewer interactivity and viewer manufacture – which cinema never was or could be – and cinema is a past tense medium – every time you see Casablanca or Gone with the Wind, or La Dolce Vita or Starwars or Avatar – it is always the same – no surprises second time around …. we now need a present tense medium that can change, develop, metamorphise every time you experience it – we are all post-television people. We are familiar with present-tense media.
Jaime Griesemer at the Tip of the Sphere blog looks at what a ‘role’ is and borrows from Plato to help define it.
At Kotaku, Tim Rogers writes about ‘A Planet Without Square Enix’, with the thesis that, essentially Square Enix have only themselves to blame if they’re in financial troubles, because they’ve cultivated their fan base in a very particular way. He illustrates the phenomena with an anecdote of from a Final Fantasy launch event in Japan:
…a man had a brand new video game in his hands, still shrink-wrapped and in a double-taped plastic bag, and he already didn’t care about it anymore. He was already thinking about something else — about The Next Big Thing, which was more or less The Thing That Hooked Him All Those Years Ago, Only Shinier. This is the type of human being corporations like Square-Enix are manufacturing.
For the Border House blog this week the blogger Mirai looks at the exponential curve of outrageousness the body figures the women of Mortal Kombat have been on since the early nineties.
Gus Mastrapa is a clever guy. This week in his ‘pretension +1’ column for Joystick Division he writes about videogames as evil/murder/unethical simulators. The piece is titled, ‘In Video Games Nothing Is True, Everything Permitted’ and here’s a long quote from the conclusion to whet your interest:
The legendary assassin Hassan-i Sabbah was purported to have said the following words on his deathbed: “Nothing is true, everything is permitted.” When we’re playing video games by ourselves Sabbah’s words make an intriguing maxim. Games are complicated lies that grant us freedom the consequences of the real world will never afford. Strangely I don’t have a hard time imagining a person feeling so disillusioned that they’d confuse their everyday existence with one where their words and actions don’t have consequences.
To those people I’d say, “play more video games.”
A short one this week, but if that’s not enough our very own Kris Ligman is a tireless collector of even more links during the week, mostly game related, and the aforementioned Rock Paper Shotgun has the lovely Sunday Papers every week to keep you up-to-date with the latest too.