February 14, 2008

One For The Road

Hey, you! I'm directly addressing my readers. The fourth wall is broken. First of all, I apologise for not posting as much this month as I probably should have. Also, the posts I did write were all largely irrelevant. Whoops. Before clicking Publish Post, I should stop and ask myself, "am I writing something that people will be interested in, like a one-console future, or independent development, or whether games are art?" The answer to that last one, by the way, is who cares, but from here on in I will be referring to my blog as art.

My point is that everything is about to change. Irrevocably so. Because I am shutting down Hit Self-Destruct next week I will be representing at the Game Developers Conference. No kidding! Who's irrelevant now, huh?

This GDC trip is going to launch Hit Self-Destruct into the stratosphere. I'm not kidding about that, either. My GDC coverage will completely blow your mind. When you read it like a week after the event, that is. You probably shouldn't expect much from the show floor itself, because I do want to take some time off from this iron maiden.

I leave you with this thought-provoking piece. I'll be back from GDC with more art!

Love,
Duncan

I think it's ridiculous that "story" and "gameplay" have persisted as separate institutions for as long as they have. I don't just mean in the minds of gamers (although I do mean that) but in the minds of designers, too. So many games lazily reinforce that separation by punctuating levels with cutscenes wherein the story is told in its entirety. We've reached a point where story, handled badly, becomes not just overbearing but perfunctory and thus is perceived to encroach on the game itself. It comes to be seen as a necessary evil that the medium picked up like a rash somewhere along the way. "If I wanted a story," gamers say, "I'd read a book." What no one seems to grasp is that games have the potential to be both a great story and a great game. A comic book can have a great script and look beautiful, and no one seems to think that either of those components is worth less than the other or that they are mutually exclusive. Good storytelling in games is not an implausibility. We should have games that a mainstream audience turns to for good writing in any medium. That should be the goal, instead of casually dismissing the notion outright.

Furthermore, the singular stigma attached to story is dumb. "If I wanted something pretty, I'd look at a painting. If I wanted to hear music, I'd listen to a symphony. If I wanted to shoot guys, I'd rob a liquor store." At the risk of blowing everyone's minds, I think most hardcore gamers are in actuality casual gamers, insofar as they want games to be essentially superficial experiences: pick up and play, put down and forget.

But I'd have to say that the worst thing about the present condition is how I've been reduced to martyrly whining. Yikes.

1 comment:

Michael said...

"At the risk of blowing everyone's minds, I think most hardcore gamers are in actuality casual gamers, insofar as they want games to be essentially superficial experiences: pick up and play, put down and forget."

In the immortal words of Smokey Robinson: I second that emotion! I keep coming back to the same thought lately. As much as any other factor, the biggest thing holding back games is gamers.

Hey, I thought *I* was supposed to bring back the art from GDC. We've gotta get ourselves coordinated, man. ;-)