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  1. #1
    Animal Collective manred's Avatar
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    'Are Games Going To Grow Up?': A Debate

    This to me is very interesting...
    Speaking of games being juvenile (maybe), Steve Gaynor threw down the gauntlet over at Fullbright with some incendiary comments that were of course going to start a firestorm, and were indeed designed to. His contention? The video games are going to be stuck in the same ghetto as comic books — always marginalized, forever juvenile, doomed to never being 'a relevant cultural medium':

    "But comics and video games are alike in another way: they both remain marginalized, infantilized media, where the Wares are the rarest exception and the medium in general holds little to no value outside of very specific circles. The highest ideal of the vast majority of creators is to force the medium into being something it's not, and the largest segment of the audience consists of juveniles, in age or mindset, who haven't "graduated" to more respected forms of entertainment.

    Browse the racks of a standard comic shop, and the books on the mainstream shelves will be filled with flashy illustrations depicting laughable actions stories, absurdly-proportioned women, and superheroes. Likewise, browse the racks of an Electronics Boutique and you're bound to find mostly sports stars, Japanese children's cartoons, burly men with guns, and women in shameless, implausible dress. The medium infantalizes itself through its chosen subject matter. Based on surface alone, I can't blame the outside viewer for thinking little of the medium at large."


    Bad movies reign at the box office, bad books remain on top of the NYT best seller list for months, bad games get more press than the little gems. Still, no one would accuse cinema or literature at large of being juvenile, infantile, doomed to a ghetto. People like consuming crap, and 'low brow' sells; this is not news, and has caused legions of connoisseurs to throw up their hands in despair.

    Borat Pfeiffer fired back at The Plush Apocalypse:

    "I've certainly had days where I'd agree with most everything he says. I get where it's coming from. Whether it was a frustrating day at work, or sometimes just going to a particularly rough GDC, I am not immune to that brand of despair. But, overall, I gotta say, games still have much more to achieve as a medium - if I didn't think so, I wouldn't be working on them."

    He goes on to refute several points of the original, addressing issues of accessibility, infantilization, and engagement. I think plenty of us have felt frustrated at some point or another with games and gaming culture at large, but the day I feel like we're really stagnant, not going anywhere, and stuck in a juvenile ghetto is the day I give my setup away and walk away.

    N'gai Croal spread his rebuttal out over two articles in Level Up; if you're going to read any response to the original, this one is it. As he astutely points out, many of the issues Gaynor is complaining about are simply endemic to mass audiences for all forms of art and culture (how else to explain the wild popularity of an 'artist' like Thomas Kinkade and faux oil paintings?). Do we think that more artistic and independent film makers aren't lamenting the same exact issues, or literary authors don't wish Danielle Steele wasn't ruling the best seller lists?

    "The very thing Gaynor decries--a lack of willingness among the audience to work for their entertainment--isn't inherent in to this medium. It's almost intractable among mass audiences no matter what the medium. Popular fiction generally outsells literary fiction. Summer blockbusters generally out-gross arthouse films. Is this any different from, say, Call of Duty 4: Modern Combat out-NPD-ing BioShock last year, or Madden doing the same to Shadow of the Colossus in 2005? Does it truly matter that in aggregate television is more mass a mass medium than videogames, when on an individual level, its practitioners are faced with the same challenges that plague those who work in other media?"

    John Walker adds his own take on the issue at Rock, Paper, Shotgun:

    "I think there is a missed target in all of this. I think we, the gaming press, and we, the gamers, expect far too little of games. BioShock was a great game, but really, its commentary was a pamphlet. And yet it was heralded as an intellectual goliath. Of course there was a backlash to this - no, most of us won't have read Ayn Rand, and will learn something. But it isn't good enough for the adulation it receives. However, it's a perspective thing, and when compared to the rest, we feel we've no choice but to get excited. "Good grief, this one tried!" I stress again, I thought BioShock was an excellent game, but one with a poor narrative structure, and many failed ambitions.

    And at entirely the opposite end, I think we expect far too much of games. We do not lament Scrabble for its lack of Brechtian estrangement. We enjoy playing Mousetrap because the pieces go plonky plonky plonk and then the diver falls in the cup. Games so often should be visceral fun. I think that once we relax and let games be this, we'll perhaps develop the confidence to let other games aim higher, and achieve more, without feeling the need to pretend they're our Citizen Kane."


    I think we have more than enough smart and talented people in all sorts of roles to 'aim higher'; that doesn't mean 'visceral fun' is going to be replaced by high brow topics. But diversity is never a bad thing, and I trust that in years to come, there will be an ever increasing array of options, from the high brow to low brow, from the emotional to the emotionless.

    The whole debate is interesting to page through, and more people weighed in than listed here; if you've got the time, it's interesting to read how intelligent people are responding to a debate that does get played out over and over again, just usually not with quite this domino-chain reaction.
    Source

    So, what are your opinions?

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  3. #2
    Banned Sovieto's Avatar
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    i think games are growing up as we speak, games like mass effect, bioshock, and grand theft auto leading the way.
    Last edited by Sovieto; 02-16-2008 at 04:54 PM.

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  4. #3
    Banned tony26121's Avatar
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    hey

    sovieto do u have mohh2

  5. #4
    I GOT A JAR OF DIRT. surfinrach90's Avatar
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    That was quite the interesting read.

    Through it I couldn't help but think of Stephen Speilberg and what he said about trying to create a video game what will make people cry because of the story line. I'd love to play games like this and I think they'll become pretty popular.

    Obviously it isn't going to take over everything because there'll always be young teenagers who just want to p00n some n00bs.. but it could open a whole new audience, just wait and see.

    I'll have to show my media lecturer this when I go back to college, it's pretty interesting. I hope games continue to grow up, like Sovieto said I think they already are with games like Mass Effect and Bioshock. Getting into a game with a good story line is like watching an epic film or reading a book for me, I can't wait.

    Thanks for the post =]

  6. #5
    WiiChat Member Skorp's Avatar
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    @ tony - he doesn't have a wii :P

    EDIT: ok, finished reading the article, thought provoking, I think games have always been headed in this direction but they will never match other forms of media in terms of story and emotional depth. Why? Simply because a game must be more than a story, it must be fun and challenging, it is an active enjoyment rather than a passive one. Books and movies are inherently different because the entirety of a book or movie is the story. Without the story and the depth, they are just words or pictures. A video game on the other hand is not born by ideas of plot and theme, but by gameplay mechanics first, the storyline comes next to link the gameplay together. An author or screenwriter spends a year writing and thinking and perfecting their stories, while those working on a video game concentrate on so many other aspects of their media.

    What needs to happen in order to bridge the gap is to have an author write a book and then base a game off of that book, gameplay mechanics being created from the original ideas of the book. A videogame based on a book, like movies are often based off books. That will be the day.

    Imagine Jurassic Park being a game and never having been made into a movie. The counte of monte cristo game, where nobody knew the story before playing the game. That is how quality plots would come about; however, you have to wonder what type of a game these would be, what would the game play like to make it interesting. The problem with games that are based on movies is that they have a plot that they are mirroring and the plot tends to hinder the gameplay in my opinion. The developer is forced to include pivotal events as the backbone of the game experience. That being said, Aladdin on SNES was one of my favorite games. Who knows what the future holds.
    Last edited by Skorp; 02-16-2008 at 05:19 PM.

  7. #6
    Senior Member Napalmbrain's Avatar
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    I would argue that video games are as relevant as films. They certainly make as much money, and it's a fact that many adults play video games. In fact, I would say that video games have already grown up. Every artform has low-brow stuff, a trip to your local cinema will show you that. It's unreasonable to expect anything different. But once you look past gaming's "low-brow" stuff, you'll find more "mature" games. Not mature as in killing cops and running over pedestrians, but mature as in having a clever and compelling story, like in say, Shadow of the Colossus or the Silent Hill series.



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  8. #7
    Banned Sovieto's Avatar
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    bioshock was on par for with almost any movie ive ever seen. the plot and its twists were fantastic.

    Everything in this signature except for this text was made by Wiired, he is my creator and almighty.

  9. #8
    WiiChat Member Skorp's Avatar
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    Haven't played bioshock or mass effect so can't really relate, but that does peak my interest a little bit.

  10. #9
    Senior Member Napalmbrain's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sovieto
    bioshock was on par for with almost any movie ive ever seen. the plot and its twists were fantastic.
    Agreed... up until the last level, and both the endings.



    I never add friend codes.

    Quote Originally Posted by AndThen?
    @ROB64 - The longer you spend on this forum, the more you realise that Napalmbrain knows a lot about everything.


  11. #10
    WiiChat Member Skorp's Avatar
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    If I got a 360 it would be for Too Human, otherwise I'm leaning toward a PS3 down the road.

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