Monday, April 6, 2009

Home Before the Screen Door Slammed

Whoa - out later than I expected. I was gonna talk about stuff, but there's not enough time. Fortunately, by utter coincidence, I did write a thing today. It's sort of journal-y, a note to myself, probably of little interest to you, dear readers, but there are a lot of letters in it. You don't need to read it; it's just here to fill space and make me look like a responsible blogger. Enjoy. Or ignore, whatever.

When someone wants to make a book or movie – a good book or movie - they usually want to tell a story. They want to convey some experience or feeling or relationship or event – something human and relatable. When someone wants to make a game – generally speaking, so far – they want to make a game that captures the spirit of a game or movie that already exists, or they want to explore some game mechanic. There may be some humanity, the humanity derived from the already-existing source material, but too rarely is there a distinct, original human touch. That's not to say books or movies or any other media are better than games, or that they're infallible, or that all games are victims of this habit, but it is a trend that's prevalent almost to the point of being the accepted norm. There's talk in game design of building design around “one cool thing,” that one play mechanic that that separates a game from the pack and that receives the bulk of development focus. This certainly has merit, but imagine a movie doing the same. A movie can be shot around an equivalent concept, focusing on one cool cinematic technique, but it would be largely dismissed as shallow, putting style over substance. That's not a perfect comparison, and I must repeat that movies, especially shorts, can be about their cinematography with fantastic results, but even if that were the case, how much more powerful might the message be if instead of being about the cinematography, the movie was about being about the cinematography? Perhaps the desire for mature, sophisticated games is no more than the desire for games to stop being about themselves and to start being about something.

1 comment:

Jake said...

Grandpa "Tom's" moment in the limelight nearly made it into the blog, but the video was causing errors.