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Gaming Without a Safety Blanket

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the rocket-launchers-make-fine-safety-blankets dept.

Games 79

Hugh Pickens writes "IGN has an interesting interview with Tom Bissell, author of the recently published Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter, in which Bissell uses his experience in investigative journalism and as a war correspondent to describe his years playing games. Bissell talks about the difficulties in describing gameplay to non-gamers. 'A lot of casual games sort of submerge their storytelling to an almost subliminal level while upping the gameplay sophistication,' says Bissell. 'Writing about pure gameplay is tough. ... I say in the book that's one of the most suspect things about the form; a game with [an] incredibly dopey story but a really compelling mechanical set of resonances can still be a great game. I don't know if there's really a way to talk about that with people who aren't sold on the form.' Bissell adds that it's easier for many to find meaning in the more traditional delivery systems of entertainment and compares writing about games to the difficulty in describing rock & roll to an older generation. Bissell's background as a war correspondent, traveling to regions of conflict, has also translated into the games he likes."

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79 comments

How I Learned to Start Thinking and Hate the Jews (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32937038)

There are two types of people in the world: people who think there are two types of people in the world and people who don’t. I’m among the first type and I think the world is divided into people who recognize the Jewish problem and people who don’t.

In other words, the world is divided into smart people and dumb people. If you’ve got an IQ of 80, have difficulty operating a can-opener, and recognize the Jewish problem, you’re smart. If you’ve got an IQ of 180, have already won a couple of Nobel Prizes, and don’t recognize the Jewish problem, you’re dumb.

I’ve been dumb for most of my life: it took me a long time to recognize the Jewish problem. I didn’t think for myself, I just accepted the propaganda and conformed to the consensus. Jews are good people. Only bad people criticize Jews. Jews good. Anti-Semites bad. But then, very slowly, I started to see the light.

Recognizing Jewish hypocrisy was the first big step. I was reading an article by someone called Rabbi Julia Neuberger, a prominent British liberal. I didn’t like liberals then, so I didn’t like her for that (and because her voice and manner had always grated on me), but her Jewishness wasn’t something I particularly noticed. But as I read the article I came across something that didn’t strike me as very liberal: she expressed concern about Jews marrying Gentiles, because this threatened the survival of the Jewish people.

That made me sit up and think. Hold on, I thought, I know this woman sits on all sorts of “multi-cultural” committees and is constantly being invited onto TV and radio to yap about the joys of diversity and the evils of racism. She’s all in favor of mass immigration and there’s no way she’s worried about Whites marrying non-Whites, because “Race is Just a Social Construct” and “We’re All the Same Under the Skin”. She’s a liberal and she thinks that race-mixing is good and healthy and Holy. Yet this same woman is worried about Jews marrying Gentiles. Small contradiction there, n'est ce-pas?

Well, no. Big contradiction. She obviously didn’t apply the same rules to everyone else as she applied to her own people, the Jews. She was, in short, a hypocrite. But not just that – she was a Jewish hypocrite. And that’s a big step for a brainwashed White to take: not just thinking in a negative way about a Jew, but thinking in a negative way about a Jew because of her Jewishness.

After that, I slowly started to see the world in a different way. Or to be more precise: I started to see the world. I started to see what had always been there: the massive over-representation of Jews in politics and the media. And I started to notice that a lot of those Jews – like Rabbi Julia Neuberger, in fact – gave me the creeps. There was something slimy and oily and flesh-crawling about them. And it wasn’t just me, either: other Gentiles seemed to feel it too.

Politicians often attract nicknames based on some outstanding aspect of their character or behavior. Margaret Thatcher was “The Iron Lady”. Ronald Reagan was “Teflon Ron”. Bill Clinton was “Slick Willy”. But these are Gentile politicians and their nicknames are at least half-affectionate. Jewish politicians seem to attract a different kind of nickname. In Britain, Gerald Kaufman, bald, homosexual Member of Parliament for Manchester Gorton, is nicknamed “Hannibal Lecter”. Peter Mandelson, now Britain’s Euro-Commissioner and Tony Blair’s suspected former lover, is “The Prince of Darkness”. Michael Howard (né Hecht), the leader of the British Conservative Party, is “Dracula”.

When I noticed this kind of thing, I started to ask questions. What was going on here? Why did Jews attract nicknames like that? And why had Gentiles reacted to them like that not just now, but a long way into the past? Shakespeare seems to have felt the same kind of repulsion when he created the vengeful lawyer Shylock, and Dickens when he created the parasitic master-thief Fagin. Classic “anti-Semitic” stereotypes, but I knew that stereotypes aren’t always wrong. If anti-Semitic stereotypes aren’t always wrong, then there’s an obvious conclusion: neither is anti-Semitism. Gentiles are sometimes right to dislike and distrust Jews.

After all, at the same time I was noticing something else: the massive over-representation of Jews, not just among politicians and journalists, but among crooked businessmen too. In fact, among very, very crooked businessmen, the ones responsible for really big frauds at Gentile expense. Men like Robert Maxwell (né Hoch), Ivan “Greed is Good” Boesky, and Michael Milken. And, on a slightly lesser scale, Ernest Saunders, who finagled an early release from prison because he was coming down with Alzheimer’s, that well-known incurable brain disease from which no-one ever recovers. Only Saunders managed to confound medical science and recover from it.

Slimy. Hypocritical. Crooked. In a word: Jewish. But I didn’t take the final step, the step to full recognition of the Jewish problem, until I watched the reaction to Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ. I’m not a Christian and I have little sympathy with modern Christianity, but I had a lot of sympathy for Mel Gibson as I watched the hysterical campaign against him. The hysterical, well-organized, international campaign by the slimy, hypocritical, crooked Jew Abe Foxman, Head of the Anti-Defamation League, and his fellow slimy, hypocritical, crooked Jews around the world. They didn’t like something and they were moving heaven and earth to get it stopped.

And what was it they didn’t like? A movie about an event at the heart of European art, literature, and culture: the crucifixion of Christ. So here was another obvious conclusion: Jews hate European art, literature, and culture. In other words, Jews hate White civilization and the White race who created it.

After that, it all fell into place. I finally recognized that Jews weren’t just slimy, hypocritical, and crooked, but actively dangerous too. If I thought of something harmful to White civilization and the survival of the White race – mass immigration, feminism, multi-culturalism, anti-racism, gay rights – I realized that Jews were behind it, were promoting it through their control of the media, and had been doing so for decades.

Finally, I had seen the light. Finally, I had gotten smart and recognized the Jewish problem, the problem that even dumb Gentiles subconsciously recognize when they give nicknames like “Hannibal Lecter” and “Prince of Darkness” and “Dracula” to Jewish politicians. Jews really do want to eat us, and steal our souls, and suck our blood, and it’s about time we started firing a few silver bullets.

Re:How I Learned to Start Thinking and Hate the Je (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32938220)

the world is divided into smart people and dumb people

Congratulations, you have proved the existence of the second group by demonstrating that the cardinality of the set of dumb people is equal or larger than one.

That can be true for anything (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32937058)

I've seen some visually amazing movies with terrible stories, and hear some really interesting music with stupid lyrics.

Re:That can be true for anything (2, Insightful)

Ironchew (1069966) | more than 3 years ago | (#32937122)

A story is not an essential part of a video game at all. Sure, it is for RPGs, but you can subsist entirely off of gameplay with arcade games.

Re:That can be true for anything (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 3 years ago | (#32937398)

Don't forget FPS!

Quake had no story and took the gaming world by storm.

Re:That can be true for anything (3, Insightful)

rainmouse (1784278) | more than 3 years ago | (#32937520)

Yes but standards change, the punters keep demanding more and these days a FPS game with no story, just violence and the occasional puzzle would likely be panned by critics and economically flop.

Problem with the games market is that graphics and branding are ultimately what sells games and until the audience can become more sophisticated, the vast majority games never will.

Re:That can be true for anything (1)

Raelus (859126) | more than 3 years ago | (#32938134)

Yes but standards change, the punters keep demanding more and these days a FPS game with no story, just violence and the occasional puzzle would likely be panned by critics and economically flop.

Problem with the games market is that graphics and branding are ultimately what sells games and until the audience can become more sophisticated, the vast majority games never will.

TF2.

Re:That can be true for anything (1)

rainmouse (1784278) | more than 3 years ago | (#32938970)

True I was thinking of single player but should have mentioned that fact in my post. There are endless, plotless fps multiplayer games though TF2 certainly scores high on the graphics and branding.

AVID TF2 player here (MPC/PCG server) (1)

DRAGONWEEZEL (125809) | more than 3 years ago | (#32955998)

The gameplay, like C&C renegade (one of my favorite, if short lived, team FPS games), is AWESOME.

The graphics? Like C&C renegade was back then, are way past their prime. TF2 has been out for like 5 years. If they did nothing, but rebuild the engine the game sits on, and updated models and texturing, they'd have another hit. I'd re-buy it in a heart beat.

Be mindful that it doesn't mean I don't like playing it. Quite the opposite:

  I can snipe w/ the best of them when on at least a mediocre team, with a headshot to K ratio of about 4:5. Taking out a demo w/ the Direct HIT is allways a plus, and few things are more satisfying than sapping a re-deployed lvl 3 sentry that some engie spent so much time building, & packing up only to have it die, or ubering a demo to take out an entire fortress w/ a few stickies, chewing through tons of ammo then chewing through a sandvich, then more ammo... The ever classic, rushing past the first point to instantly take the second pt as a scout, building a telle behind the enemy lines in TwoFort, but my heart longs for one thing... setting people on fire.
You can call me Ronald Bartel

Yes, I am the guy who plays the classes you hate: All of them!

Re:AVID TF2 player here (MPC/PCG server) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32960532)

The graphics? Like C&C renegade was back then, are way past their prime. TF2 has been out for like 5 years.

You are the very mincing walking stereotype of the people in the AC2 comment above about 'aerial assassinations'. Jesus wept indeed.

3.5 years = "like 5" years? Ah, but I forget I'm in the world of manchild gamer math. The 18-35 dudebrah bracket considers anything outside of a narrow range of a few years to be essentially ancient, including women (girls, really), vidyo games and cars. One, two, many indeed.

You have terrible opinions and you are a terrible human being.

Re:That can be true for anything (1)

Stormwatch (703920) | more than 3 years ago | (#32939734)

Quake had no story and took the gaming world by storm.

Quake's story [wikipedia.org] was largely irrelevant, but it was there.

Re:That can be true for anything (1)

lenwar (1220040) | more than 3 years ago | (#32948008)

Well, I must admit that did a hell-of-a-job conceiling that story...
Very well done.

(or did someone make something up and put it up on Wikipedia? We'll never know now :( )

Re:That can be true for anything (2, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#32938320)

A good RPG should stand on its gameplay, not the story. For that matter, there are few RPGs that have a decent story by any measure. It's the planning and execution of battles that really makes an RPG. I'd use Nocturne as an example. The constant churn of demons that make up your party, each with different strengths, really keeps the gameplay compelling. The story itself has an interesting premise, but it's really poorly developed. It was the gameplay that kept me going for 90 hours. If I want a good story I'll read a book.

Re:That can be true for anything (3, Insightful)

Draek (916851) | more than 3 years ago | (#32938968)

And if I want good gameplay I'll go out and play a sport.

Sorry, but I *hate* that "read a book" phrase. Gaming is what it is due to the relationship between all its components, it's not merely about gameplay just as it's not merely about graphics or storytelling.

Re:That can be true for anything (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32938700)

Nope. Early CRPGs like Ultima and Wizardry hardly had any story at all. Stories pretty much belonged to the adventure genre.

Re:That can be true for anything (4, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#32938290)

A better analogy would be a movie with an amazing story but really bad special effects. The core of a game is its gameplay, the story is just there to help it along. The core of a movie is the story, the special effects are just there to help it along.

Re:That can be true for anything (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32940968)

A better analogy would be a movie with an amazing story but really bad special effects. The core of a game is its gameplay, the story is just there to help it along. The core of a movie is the story, the special effects are just there to help it along.

Hey is that a SCYFY original movie joke?

Jesus Wept. (4, Insightful)

gravos (912628) | more than 3 years ago | (#32937066)

My most central E3 memory was some guy working for Ubisoft. He was standing on a podium with probably fifty guys in their early twenties all around watching footage of Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, and he's shouting into his little headset, "Do you guys like airborne assassinations?" And everyone goes, "Yeah!" I just turned away and was like, "Jesus wept."

Yes. This is what is wrong with games today. This guy gets it.

Re:Jesus Wept. (4, Insightful)

Nursie (632944) | more than 3 years ago | (#32937328)

Whilst that sort of display is cringeworthy, AC 2 was one of the better games I've played in ages.

It had lots of action, required tactical thinking from time to time, looked amazing, minor puzzle elements, immersive gameplay, extras (stupid stuff to collect) that prolong it's appeal somewhat....

I dunno, maybe the attitude there is all wrong, but AC is to me a good example of a game that got it pretty damn right.

Re:Jesus Wept. (4, Insightful)

Nursie (632944) | more than 3 years ago | (#32937530)

Actually I'm not sure it is cringeworthy after all.

I *do* like airborne assassinations....

Re:Jesus Wept. (1)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 3 years ago | (#32938394)

Assassin's creed is Prince of persia in different clothing with some modifications, AC1 was horrible. AC2 was what AC1 should have been. But AC and PoP have a lot of cross over.

Re:Jesus Wept. (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 3 years ago | (#32938780)

I *do* like airborne assassinations....

But is that something you would say - or would enjoying explaining - to a less receptive audience than the gamer's forum on Slashdot?

Re:Jesus Wept. (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#32938514)

>>>AC-2 had lots of action, required tactical thinking from time to time, looked amazing, minor puzzle elements, immersive gameplay, extras (stupid stuff to collect) that prolong it's appeal somewhat.... I dunno, maybe the attitude there is all wrong, but AC is to me a good example of a game that got it pretty damn right.
>>>

Speaking as a gamer since 1977 - sounds boring.
POINT: One person's masterpiece is another person's tradein.

For me a near-perfect game example would be Zelda Ocarina of Time. Good story, challenging puzzles, and likable characters. Plus a sense of accomplishment when you reach the save the kingdom. And it was long but not padded with boring nonsense (spend an hour sailing to your next destination). Of course if you don't like solving puzzles this is not the game for you, but it's still as close to perfect for that genre as is possible.

Re:Jesus Wept. (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 3 years ago | (#32937672)

90% of the time, I play games for the story. Assuming the controls don't suck, if a game has a good story with good pacing, I'll play it through.

But the other 10% of the time, I just want fun game mechanics. That's anything from Bejeweled to Prototype to Flower.

So he's right that people do get excited about fun game mechanics... And he's using that as best he can.

Losers (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32937180)

Gamers don't impress me one bit.

*snore* (3, Insightful)

uniquegeek (981813) | more than 3 years ago | (#32937280)

You know, I like playing a few games here and there, but as soon as I read

Bissell talks about the difficulties in describing gameplay to non-gamers. 'A lot of casual games sort of submerge their storytelling to an almost subliminal level while upping the gameplay sophistication,'

My eyes glazed over and my brain went elsewhere. Kind of like when someone really excited about gaming starts to ramble on about it.

My gaming serves a purpose for me - take my brain elsewhere for a while. Why do I expect that non-gamers should be able to relate to a game they don't play themselves? Even if they did play the same game, most things we relate to each other are going to be the same. Do we start a conversation where most responses are going to be "me too"?

Re:*snore* (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32937346)

Do we start a conversation where most responses are going to be "me too"?

If we let that happen then AOL will have won.

Re:*snore* (4, Insightful)

MrHanky (141717) | more than 3 years ago | (#32937424)

Yeah, why should you care about expressing anything verbally. In fact, when I read your comment, my eyes glazed over and my brain went elsewhere. Kind of like when someone who doesn't care one bit about something tries to explain to people who actually do care why their interests are dull and boring just because they don't get it.

Seriously, why is this pure expression of stupidity modded "insightful"? It doesn't have anything to say, apart from "I don't have any thoughts of my own, and I don't want any, and I don't want to listen to someone who has".

I've read a few chapters of the book, and it's pretty good.

Re:*snore* (2, Funny)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 3 years ago | (#32937638)

why is this pure expression of stupidity modded "insightful"? It doesn't have anything to say, apart from "I don't have any thoughts of my own, and I don't want any, and I don't want to listen to someone who has".

It actually says "I don't have any thoughts of my own, and I don't want any, and I don't want to listen to someone who has and I have mod points" ;-)

MOD WARS!!!! (2, Funny)

CDS (143158) | more than 3 years ago | (#32938324)

Seriously, why is this pure expression of stupidity modded "insightful"? It doesn't have anything to say, apart from "I don't have any thoughts of my own, and I don't want any, and I don't want to listen to someone who has".

Right now, at least, his post is modded "3: Insightful" and yours is modded "4: Insightful" -- you're winning!!

Re:*snore* (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 3 years ago | (#32937596)

playing a few games here and there, but as soon as I read [...] My eyes glazed over and my brain went elsewhere. [...] My gaming serves a purpose for me - take my brain elsewhere for a while.

Please, feel free to take your brain elsewhere for a while next time you feel like writing a tl;dr version of tl;dr.

Re:*snore* (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32937858)

His writing is actually fairly interesting, there is a link to his piece about GTA IV in TFA. Give it a read before you dismiss him outright.

Re:*snore* (1)

gregrah (1605707) | more than 3 years ago | (#32938904)

This book is intended for an audience of gamers. And I don't think that he's saying that we should be trying to preach to non-gamers about the virtues of clever gameplay mechanics, nor is he trying to belittle non-gamers for not getting it. He is using the perspective of a non-gamer to shed light on a very complex aspect of gaming this is often not fully understood (consciously, at least) even by those who do enjoy playing games. I've often seen the same line of reasoning used to explain why somebody enjoys a particular piece of music, or a sport for example, that others may find boring.

I'm only a casual gamer, but I can definitely sense a certain level of genius in the gameplay mechanics of games like Tetris or Starcraft, for example. If I were a bigger fan of videogames, I would probably want to read this book.

Re:*snore* (1)

gregrah (1605707) | more than 3 years ago | (#32939008)

Haha I went back to actually read the f-ing article and discovered that I was way off in my interpretation of the quote. Actually he was just pointing out that he chose to write about games with deep story lines because those are the games that he likes... and because they are easier to write about.

That being said, I still think that someone should go and write the book that I imagined having been written in my previous post.

"gameplay" (1)

J-1000 (869558) | more than 3 years ago | (#32937348)

I hate this word. Is it one word? Is it two? Who knows. But it's one of the few words we have to describe the stuff that goes on while you are playing a game. We need something better, or we need some dictionary to step up and add it.

Re:"gameplay": replace with 'horse', adjust to fit (4, Funny)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 3 years ago | (#32937620)

I hate this word. Is it one word? Is it two? Who knows. But it's one of the few words we have to describe the stuff that goes on while you are playing a game. We need something better, or we need some dictionary to step up and add it.

horseplay - definition of horseplay by the Free Online Dictionary ...
frolic, gambol, romp, caper, play - gay or light-hearted recreational activity for diversion or amusement; "it was all done in play"; "their frolic in the ...
www.thefreedictionary.com/horseplay

To answer your conundrum: Gameplay is like horseplay, but less gay.

Re:"gameplay" (1)

grumbel (592662) | more than 3 years ago | (#32939476)

"Gameplay" is simply a word for the experience one has when playing a game. The more technical term for what forms that experience would be "game mechanic", "plot", "level structure", "controls", etc.

The OregonLive image caption (2, Interesting)

writermike (57327) | more than 3 years ago | (#32937390)

Love the caption on the OregonLive image:
Tom Bissell manipulates the controller while playing "Flower," a mellow video game his nieces enjoy.

Ah... right, yeah, his "nieces."

Gaming is like dancing (5, Interesting)

10101001 10101001 (732688) | more than 3 years ago | (#32937496)

Gaming is like dancing [with your thumbs]. A lot of the mechanics are shared between games. A large part of the exhilaration is managing to get the end of a game without screwing up terribly. It's more nerdy (and possibly annoying) to some because the dance partner is a computer (more accurately, it's the game developers through a computer). It leads to the same sort of frustration that Garry Kasparov expressed about Deep Blue because many are more inclined to see the challenge presented as intended to remove the fun of the game. While I wouldn't go as far as to say that such a point never holds true (ie, there is such a thing as a game that's unreasonably hard), the challenge of a game forces gamers to improve which extends the life-long enjoyment of gaming. In the end, it's this attribute that keeps people interested in the long-term.

"We are merely sprites that dance at the beck and call of our button pressing overlord."

Re:Gaming is like dancing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32938066)

Gaming is like dancing [with your thumbs]. A large part of the exhilaration is managing to get the end of a game without screwing up terribly.

Seriously, we can read that kind of things only on Slashdot.

I know I'm "weird", but I think for most people, part of the exhilaration of dancing is because we hope some screwing will end the game.

Re:Gaming is like dancing (1)

10101001 10101001 (732688) | more than 3 years ago | (#32938214)

Gaming is like dancing [with your thumbs]. A large part of the exhilaration is managing to get the end of a game without screwing up terribly.

Seriously, we can read that kind of things only on Slashdot.

I know I'm "weird", but I think for most people, part of the exhilaration of dancing is because we hope some screwing will end the game.

Funny, but I always thought that the screwing will end the game was a given and the dancing was just some pre-screwing entertainment. In the end, the dancing merely was a good bit of fun exercise that showed a commitment to form, a good bit of dexterity, and an enjoyment of refining technique. Feel free to extrapolate such comments to thumb/finger dancing with pre-screwing entertainment and refining technique...

The key (3, Interesting)

ceraphis (1611217) | more than 3 years ago | (#32937676)

One of the major hurdles gaming as an entertainment medium needs to overcome before it is taken as seriously as movies, theater and such by more than its major demographic is the pandering to the immature teenage obsession with sex and violence.

There are way too many games that advertise and pride themselves on the quality of their hitboxes (better headshots!), the intricacies of their scoring systems (show everyone how well you can twitch!) and their rewards for being skilled with violence (only ten more kills before I unlock the headraper 3000!). Even worse is when the amount of nudity or sex in a game is treated like some sort of sacred phenomenon like in God of War.

I wait patiently for more games like braid, heavy rain, the monkey islands remakes or portal, although they may not all have the most amazing stories, they push the capabilities of the medium or are rewarding because of the way they make you think, their humor or their beautiful art style.

Re:The key (1)

Draek (916851) | more than 3 years ago | (#32938174)

One of the major hurdles gaming as an entertainment medium needs to overcome before it is taken as seriously as movies, theater and such by more than its major demographic is the pandering to the immature teenage obsession with sex and violence.

Two words: "Twilight" and "Transformers".

Re:The key (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32939264)

One of the major hurdles gaming as an entertainment medium needs to overcome before it is taken as seriously as movies, theater and such by more than its major demographic is the pandering to the immature teenage obsession with sex and violence.

Uhhh... Burlesque? Have you ever seen a blockbuster movie before?

There are way too many games that advertise and pride themselves on the quality of their hitboxes (better headshots!),

In a game, have you ever walked up to a door but been unable to open it because you were not in perfect alignment? How about picking up objects on the floor?

the intricacies of their scoring systems (show everyone how well you can twitch!)

Are you for real? LOL. Did you know the grandaddy of adventure games, Colossal Cave Adventure, had a scoring system, right? This game is older than freaking Space Invaders.

and their rewards for being skilled with violence (only ten more kills before I unlock the headraper 3000!).

Ah, a Portal fan. Did you murder your friend, the companion cube? I don't blame you. You get achievement for it. ;)

Even worse is when the amount of nudity or sex in a game is treated like some sort of sacred phenomenon like in God of War.

Yeah, because we should really view all sex and nudity with shame! Only true art can depict sex and nudity because it is serious bizness!

Actually, I've never played God of War because I game on PCs. I have however played a ton games since the 80's, and most of what I've seen is pretty tame (Ulima 6 & 7 LOL). If some mainstream game threw off the shackles of prudishness, it would get a lot of attention, so they might as well play it up.

 

I wait patiently for more games like braid, heavy rain, the monkey islands remakes or portal, although they may not all have the most amazing stories, they push the capabilities of the medium or are rewarding because of the way they make you think, their humor or their beautiful art style.

Yuck.

Braid is a conceited mario rip off with time rewind gimmick masquerading as a puzzle game, Heavy Rain is a nextgen QTE movie, Monkey Island is like a zombie wearing makeup, and Portal is a dull prototype with catchy theme song (we'll see if Valve can make a real game out of this). I think I'd rather play SuperTux. ;)

Re:The key (2, Informative)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#32939332)

One of the major hurdles gaming as an entertainment medium needs to overcome before it is taken as seriously as movies, theater and such by more than its major demographic is the pandering to the immature teenage obsession with sex and violence.

You forgot the only metric that matters: money. Games are there.

Re:The key (5, Insightful)

ultranova (717540) | more than 3 years ago | (#32939608)

One of the major hurdles gaming as an entertainment medium needs to overcome before it is taken as seriously as movies, theater and such by more than its major demographic is the pandering to the immature teenage obsession with sex and violence.

As opposed to the mature obsession with sex and violence that is pandered by movies, theater and such?

Hollywood panders to obsession with violence. European "art" films pander to obsession with sex. Some pander to both. And how could they not? Apart from titillating the senses, almost all human behaviour is driven by either lust or survival instinct; you can't have drama without these elements. If anything, having a greater focus on sex and sexuality in games would allow far greater storylines with better rounded characters, not to mention enable all kinds of dramatic options in both conflict and its resolution.

You aren't going to find any medium where sex and violence aren't at the central focus, because they are the focus of human existence.

Even worse is when the amount of nudity or sex in a game is treated like some sort of sacred phenomenon like in God of War.

God of War is very tame and nice compared the original Greek myths. What should they had done, copied Disney's Hercules?

I wait patiently for more games like braid, heavy rain, the monkey islands remakes or portal, although they may not all have the most amazing stories, they push the capabilities of the medium or are rewarding because of the way they make you think, their humor or their beautiful art style.

Beautiful art style, yes... Care to guess which two subjects have been the main focus of art from the very first cave paintings to modern-day painters, sculptors and such? And, for that matter, the subject matter of most humour? Or pretty much every story?

Games are slowly but surely moving from being kid's toys into mainstream entertainment, and that means they're going to get a lot more sex to go with the violence. You can dislike it, but it's what all mainstream entertainment has been made of for the duration of entire human history, and prehistory too. And I, for one, am just fine with that.

Re:The key (1)

ceraphis (1611217) | more than 3 years ago | (#32940602)

Oh don't get me wrong, I don't mind the content of the average video game one bit. I just dislike the stereotypes that the public applies to videogames because of the demographic that slurps up the average violent FPS and asks for more.

Movies find public approval over video games because for every exploitative film in a given year, there are just as many if not more artsy films and movies to satisy every type of moviegoer. Until videogames get an even distribution of exploitative or pandering games to the artsy and thought provoking ones, I worry they won't find overwhelming public approval.

Re:The key (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32940988)

You aren't going to find any medium where sex and violence aren't at the central focus, because they are the focus of human existence.

Sure you are, how about typography! Haha, BOOM! HEADSHOT! Time to rub my balls on your corpse buddy!

Really thogh the article is bullshit because the premise is bullshit. I mean, shit like how do you describe rock and roll to older people, jesus, just tell 'em it's rythym and blues sung by honkies.

Not "the" key, "a" key, perhaps. (2, Insightful)

adamofgreyskull (640712) | more than 3 years ago | (#32940848)

Hang on, let's compare apples to apples, (I'll side-step theatre, because I can't think of any good examples, but I'm sure they exist) :
For every "Casablanca", there are 10 "Dude, Where's My Car?"s, "Grandma Got Her Funk Back"s and "Under Siege 2: Dark Territory"s.
For every "Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas" there are 10 "Harold & Kumar"s, "Cheech & Chong"s and "American Pie 3"s.

Similarly, for every "Portal", "Braid" or "Monkey Island" there are numerous generic first person shooters where you have to mow down wave upon wave of enemies with increasingly powerful, brutal weapons.
  1. There is no doubt that film is considered by many to be a "serious" entertainment medium, and yet the number of childish, puerile, banal movies FAR FAR FAR exceeds the number of "great movies".
  2. Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction are considered by some to be great movies, and even the critics who don't took the time out to review them and give them serious consideration, yet they both contain copious amounts of swearing and violence.

With that in mind, I really don't think that getting rid of gratuitous or excessive sex, violence and swearing is the silver bullet to getting gaming accepted as a "serious" entertainment medium by the mainstream that you think it is. Nor do I agree that violent games, per se, could never be taken seriously. However I totally agree that the kind of bloodthirsty, all-out FPSs you refer to will probably never be considered "high art", in the same way that "Transporter 7: School Run Traffic" will never be, but there is no reason, for example, that a survival horror game in the vein of the Resident Evil franchise couldn't receive more serious consideration as art.

But pure gameplay IS story telling! (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 3 years ago | (#32937826)

There is no actual difference between story telling and gameplay. In that they are both experiences with the exact same structure (This one [radiantempire.com]). Else it would not be fun.

Only that one is formed by defining generalized laws that allow movement inside the fun area, while the other is pre-scripted to the mindset of the writer.

The whole discussion about games “lacking stories” is pointless. Games are a generalization of pretty much everything we do for fun. Films, stories, art, sports, interesting contraptions, toys, learning... they are are subsets and aspects of what a game is.
So instead, it’s more correct to say, that stories lack freedom. And actually there is a free gradient between the two.

Also there is no big need to describe gameplay. As it’s actually always coming down to being the exact same thing. As in all stories too. That pattern is well known. Since the mechanics must work in that certain way, to be a game (or story) and to be fun.

Sheesh.... (4, Insightful)

afabbro (33948) | more than 3 years ago | (#32938118)

...I thought "gaming without a safety blanket" would be a discussion of how real men play roguelikes, where you have only one life and the game may take weeks/months to complete and death means starting over...

Re:Sheesh.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32938346)

That is /exactly/ what I thought, too.

Re:Sheesh.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32938470)

I also thought the same thing.

Re:Sheesh.... (1)

kaizokuace (1082079) | more than 3 years ago | (#32938864)

I just want to play a game like that! Is there any around?

Re:Sheesh.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32939300)

If you honestly are that clueless and I'm a humor-deprived AC, nethack, slashem, crawl.

Re:Sheesh.... (2, Informative)

StupiderThanYou (896020) | more than 3 years ago | (#32939614)

Try http://angband.oook.cz/ [angband.oook.cz]> Angband, http://www.nethack.org/ [nethack.org]> Nethack, http://www.adom.de/ [www.adom.de]> ADOM, http://crawl.develz.org/wordpress/ [develz.org]> Crawl, or start looking at http://roguebasin.roguelikedevelopment.org/ [roguelikedevelopment.org]> Roguebasin. Then you'll be really living. Briefly.

Re:Sheesh.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32940240)

For slow game-play and irreversible death I recommend Cantr II

Re:Sheesh.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32940054)

I like Dungeon Crawl: Stone Soup for my rogue-like needs. Text mode is a little too hard core for me these days. Stone Soup has all the fun of permanent death with some functional tile graphics.

http://crawl.develz.org/wordpress/

Re:Sheesh.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32941030)

Pretty much all games can be played like that, just set your own additional rules, ie. restart on first death, no saving/reloading in a session etc. I play most RPGs that way, makes running from combat an actual useful tactic.

It's modern Cowboys and Indians (5, Interesting)

lexsird (1208192) | more than 3 years ago | (#32938312)

When I was a child we used to play "Cowboys and Indians". The kids would break into two groups, one the cowboys, the other Indians. It was by definition roll playing with simulated violence. There were rules; for example, the cowboys had guns and the Indians had stealth. Rules and parameters were establish and followed, if not, "NO FAIR...or YOU CHEATED" were declared.

Modern computer gaming, such as the First Person Shooter, (FPS), is an extension of this. In fact, if you can recall being a child and the various imaginary games that children play, I.E. Pirates, Fortress, Capture the Flag, Tag and so on, modern gaming is an extension of these into a modern format with the use of computer technology. You can think of your computer as both a playground and a referee. Of course it's highly evolved and segued into genres, but if one distills it down to a non "gamer" essence, I think one could find a frame of reference based in the beginning of "play" its self.

Wow, (mod up) (1)

justinlee37 (993373) | more than 3 years ago | (#32938848)

My kingdom for a mod point, man. That was insightful and eloquent. I'll be paraphrasing, copying or bookmarking your comment.

Re:It's modern Cowboys and Indians (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 3 years ago | (#32939000)

When I was a child we used to play "Cowboys and Indians." It was by definition roll playing with simulated violence.

Simulated at a very high level of abstraction - ham-bone theatric - and arguably less violent - and far less sadistic - than the conventions of a Warner Brothers cartoon.

 

Re:It's modern Cowboys and Indians (2, Interesting)

lexsird (1208192) | more than 3 years ago | (#32939276)

A Warner Brothers cartoon smacked of adult influences I don't think out of malice or neglect, but from the fact that most households were of one television at the time. There, entire families would hunker about their television akin to a primal family about the campfire.

Hence one would find the humor skewed up a notch or two above what might suffice for a child, not necessarily trying to appeal to a larger audience, but to appease them. Suffering through a child's program as an adult shouldn't be a painful experience if one wants to keep the entire family focused on the program.

As with modern times there is far less parental supervision concerning children's programing. Appeasing the parents is not the concern as in the example of a Barney show. One could also point out the virtues then of a simpler, less violent, child oriented show.

A progression or regression? Who knows?

Re:It's modern Cowboys and Indians (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 2 years ago | (#32941760)

A Warner Brothers cartoon smacked of adult influences I don't think out of malice or neglect, but from the fact that most households were of one television at the time.

None of the classic Warner Brothers cartoons were made for TV. They were made to be shown as short subjects before the main feature at movie theatres, and were written that way because people of all ages went the movies.

You mean ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32938992)

if you are shot when playing a game, a robotic gun in the console actually shoots you. Cool!

Like Country music line dancing (1)

leftie (667677) | more than 3 years ago | (#32939798)

"a game with [an] incredibly dopey story but a really compelling mechanical set of resonances can still be a great game."

Story vs gameplay (1)

FredMenace (835698) | more than 3 years ago | (#32940266)

'Writing about pure gameplay is tough. ... I say in the book that's one of the most suspect things about the form; a game with [an] incredibly dopey story but a really compelling mechanical set of resonances can still be a great game. I don't know if there's really a way to talk about that with people who aren't sold on the form.'

Yes, this is exactly the problem, trying to describe games in the wrong terms and evaluate them in the wrong framework. We all probably agree that great games are great due to gameplay mechanics, and story doesn't really matter (some may also have good stories, but it's certainly not necessary, and for me if the story drones on too long, even if it's good, it just gets in the way of actually playing the game - like how you always skip cutscenes after the first time through).

Yet non-gamers seem to think of games in a story-driven entertainment sense, like "how does this compare to a movie?" The answer should be "it doesn't, it compares to chess and poker and ping pong and billiards (and car racing and tennis and other sports, minus the sweat)." Games are GAMES, do you care if checkers or monopoly or bridge or badminton have great stories? So why do you care if a video game does?

Of course, the entertainment industry doesn't help by putting out endless big-budget, story-driven games often derived from other forms of entertainment, but which have crappy gameplay (if there's much actual gameplay at all), thus feeding the stereotype...

Problem is that Bissell can't write (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#32943766)

"I just sort of start"
"I just feel my way through it"
"It's about my sort of spiraling"
"sort of going coo coo for Cocoa Puffs"
"A lot of casual games sort of submerge their storytelling"
"so I just sort of showed up and went to his hotel room and interviewed him"

Re:Problem is that Bissell can't write (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32953370)

"I just sort of start"
"I just feel my way through it"
"It's about my sort of spiraling"
"sort of going coo coo for Cocoa Puffs"
"A lot of casual games sort of submerge their storytelling"
"so I just sort of showed up and went to his hotel room and interviewed him"

Except he wasn't writing that. He was being interviewed. How eloquently do you speak on the fly?

A more comprehensible metaphor (1)

danielpauldavis (1142767) | more than 2 years ago | (#32945040)

Would be the movie, "Avatar," which also has a silly plot but is VERY immersive. Thus, the "quality" is not in anything but in how well the thing cons the customer.
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