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Videogames Doomed for a 'Comics-like Ghetto'?

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the i-would-argue-comics-aren't-even-in-a-ghetto dept.

Games 354

At the Newsweek blog LevelUp, journalist N'Gai Croal wrote this week about the sometimes-precarious position of videogames in popular culture. The frustrations of legislators, lawyers, and 'pro-family' groups aside, the popularity and record sales of the gaming industry would seem to indicate rising stock for gaming as an art form in the US. And yet, there are some folks who see gaming as just another fad, which in some time will be equal in popularity to comic books or tabletop roleplaying. N'Gai starts to form his response by noting that learning to play videogames is considerably easier than developing an appreciation for literature of any kind. He then goes on to note that the (oft-cited) lack of weighty subjects in gaming is more due to the 'pop culture' nature of the hobby than the medium itself. "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?" He discusses some ways to address that, but do you have any solutions? Or are games doomed to be the playthings of adolescent boys for the rest of the century? (And yeah, I resent the 'comics ghetto' label too.)

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Not a chance (4, Interesting)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 6 years ago | (#22440328)

Every male in my high school played starcraft, no matter what social group they came from. The same could be said for halo. Gaming should be thought of as a medium or a category, like comics are a subcategory of literature, and RPGs are a subcategory of card/board games. I don't see the popularity of Halo or of Guitar Hero-type games fading.

Re:Not a chance (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22440446)

I think you've missed the point. While gaming may be a medium that doesn't mean that it can't have high quality. Literature has Steven King but it also has William Shakespeare. Music may have Britney Spears but it also has J. S. Bach. In the first case you have simplistic pop culture phenomena that is just for brief entertainment and in the later you have works that will enlighten you. So where is the Shakespeare or Bach of gaming?

Re:Not a chance (3, Insightful)

Guinness2702 (840158) | more than 6 years ago | (#22440550)

Literature has Steven King but it also has William Shakespeare.
Ooh, flamebait! Not everything Stephen King wrote was terrible...or are you suggesting Shakespeare was rubbish (not that I'm a fan myself).

Re:Not a chance (4, Insightful)

stormguard2099 (1177733) | more than 6 years ago | (#22440564)

Tetris. 'nuff said

Re:Not a chance (1)

deathtopaulw (1032050) | more than 6 years ago | (#22440728)

dumb question, it's team ico

Re:Not a chance (1)

childprey (1054198) | more than 6 years ago | (#22440742)

id software is your Steven King. Valve is your Shakespeare.

Re:Not a chance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22440962)

If id is Stephen King, Valve is Dean Koontz. Koei is Shakespeare.

Re:Not a chance (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22441118)

Koei is more like... Piers Anthony. A few core franchises built around rehashing the same allegedly heady material for years.

Re:Not a chance (4, Interesting)

grumpygrodyguy (603716) | more than 6 years ago | (#22440978)

So where is the Shakespeare or Bach of gaming?

OK I'll bite:

The Bard's Tale
Wasteland
Pirates!
Nethack
Dune 2
Master of Magic
Warcraft
Civilization
Tie Fighter
System Shock 2
Half-Life
GTA Vice City

Re:Not a chance (4, Insightful)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 6 years ago | (#22441058)

Literature has Steven King but it also has William Shakespeare.

Bear in mind that Shakespeare was not writing solely for a sophisticated, intellectual elite. He's rightly remembered as one of the crowning glories of human cultural achievement, but when he sat down to write his plays, a large part of his thought was given to how the material would play in front of the half-drunk crowd in the pit in the Globe.

Shakespeare's genius was to create superlative works of art which still appealed to the mass market. He blended in cheap puns and sight gags along with his sophisticated plots and deep philosophical allegories, and made it all work perfectly. That's something we've yet to see in games - we have the occasional Planescape: Torment, but when we do it's never a hit - but then, we rarely enough see it anywhere else. Shakespeare is the kind of thing that happens once a century or so, and gaming's only been around for thirty years.

Re:Not a chance (2, Interesting)

KublaiKhan (522918) | more than 6 years ago | (#22440536)

I'm going to agree with you there.

Games have always been about competition, one way or another. Those games which are only single-player are, in a way, an aberration--sure, Final Fantasy games are wildly popular, but the people who buy 'em tend to like the 'interactive movie' aspect.

It's no real surprise that a game that offers extensive competition would outsell a game that, ultimately, requires you to sit alone for long periods of time. Beautiful graphics and engaging stories are a great thing, don't get me wrong--but unless there's a social aspect to it, it's going to be passed over for something that does allow interaction.

Witness the popularity of the Wii, for instance--a console that is, frankly, intended to be used in a multiplayer situation.

The games that you cite are, essentially, variants of genres which have been successful for centuries: Starcraft is, in the end, a board game much like chess--it requires tactical thinking, and there is a clear winner and loser at the end of the engagement; Halo is a variant of combat--a tamed down less lethal version, much like jousting or paintball.

People need the social aspect of games. They need to compete against each other. If you don't have some sort of socialization and competition in a game, it's not going to sell nearly as well as one that has those aspects.

Re:Not a chance (4, Insightful)

SQLGuru (980662) | more than 6 years ago | (#22440730)

Even in single player games, there is usually some sort of competition.....whether it's a new high score or just to complete the game, there is some mode of competition.

Not everyone wants to compete in a game, either....or at least not in the fashion you are referring to. I play games to see EVERYTHING. I love RPG games because of how much there is to see. I do every side quest. I save and pick various paths to see how they are different. I don't have a problem with walkthroughs and cheats (in single player RPGs - but only when stuck) because I'm more interested in seeing all of the content than I am in feeling like I "beat" the game.

Layne

Re:Not a chance (4, Interesting)

magical_mystery_meat (1042950) | more than 6 years ago | (#22440768)

Games have always been about competition, one way or another. Those games which are only single-player are, in a way, an aberration--sure, Final Fantasy games are wildly popular, but the people who buy 'em tend to like the 'interactive movie' aspect.

Yes, this is true. I'd rather play a game like Mass Effect than sit through any kind of passive entertainment. The interactivity adds a level of entertainment that no movie can match.

People need the social aspect of games. They need to compete against each other. If you don't have some sort of socialization and competition in a game, it's not going to sell nearly as well as one that has those aspects.

I think you're projecting. You may need the socialization and the beer and pretzels aspect to enjoy a game, but if I'm playing a game, I'm doing it to avoid people, not to spend more time around them than I already have to. I've been there and done that w/r/t being a socially oriented person and it just doesn't interest me anymore. Different strokes, etc.

Re:Not a chance (1)

KublaiKhan (522918) | more than 6 years ago | (#22440856)

I was speaking more in general terms--but I have to admit that co-op mode for things like Dynasty Warriors is a great deal of fun, and that there are times when I want to spend a few hours with Final Fantasy Tactics or something to get some quiet time.

But yes, you do have a good point--but I would think that the numbers of games sold tend to show that most people prefer the social aspect. ;-þ

Re:Not a chance (1)

magical_mystery_meat (1042950) | more than 6 years ago | (#22441068)

Sure, social games sell - there are more extroverts than introverts, statistically. I'm only speaking for myself. It took me a long time to accept that I prefer to be alone most of the time, actually.

Re:Not a chance (1)

mfnickster (182520) | more than 6 years ago | (#22440924)

I love Halo, but for me, the backstory just gets in the way of gameplay.

It's a FPS at heart, so why do I need to know how and why the Flood got on the ring?

I'm with Vasquez on this one... "I only need to know ONE thing, man... where they are!"

Re:Not a chance (1)

HartDev (1155203) | more than 6 years ago | (#22440866)

I loved Starcraft, but now I don't waste time like I use to and I started working with Linux but when Starcraft II comes out.... if there is a God in heaven it will also work on Linux!

Re:Not a chance (2, Funny)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 6 years ago | (#22440968)

Starcraft and Brood Wars both install and run fine under Wine ;)

Just in case you needed a fix. I'm not trying to exacerbate your addiction, honest...

That's my kind of ghetto (0)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 6 years ago | (#22440332)

Except of course games make tons of money - and comics are pretty popular. They should find another word.

Label maker. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22440336)

What exactly does "comics ghetto" mean anyway? It's not that comics aren't already an art form. e.g. Maus, Sandman.

Re:Label maker. (1)

QMalcolm (1094433) | more than 6 years ago | (#22440382)

How many people over 30 read comics? I mean in the general population, not just nerdom. How many women read comics? When the public thinks of comics, they think of latex costumes, because that's what the most popular comics are about. You'd probably have a hard time finding someone on the street who has even heard of the two comics you listed.

Re:Label maker. (1)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 6 years ago | (#22440408)

But I have no problem finding great comics to read anyway. So who cares? There may not be many of us (I'm 39) but there are apparently enough paying customers of whatever age to keep the business going.

Re:Label maker. (5, Insightful)

Quattro Vezina (714892) | more than 6 years ago | (#22440592)

Maybe you should be asking "How many people under 30 read comics?". One of the reasons why the comics industry is doing so badly is because there are few new readers, and the existing readership keeps getting older.

Kids don't read comics anymore. Most comics readers _are_ over 30. I'm 23, and most people I see at the comic shop are older than me.

Re:Label maker. (4, Informative)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 6 years ago | (#22440794)

Maybe you should be asking "How many people under 30 read comics?". One of the reasons why the comics industry is doing so badly is because there are few new readers, and the existing readership keeps getting older.

Kids don't read comics anymore. Most comics readers _are_ over 30. I'm 23, and most people I see at the comic shop are older than me.
You raise a good point. This isn't a question of comics vs. rpg's vs. video games, this is about entertainment dollars and what people spend them on, period. All of the above are just avenues of entertainment.

Now American comics, the print kind sold in stores, they petty much suck. Heroes in spandex, boring plots, recycled everything, yuck. But if you take a look at the manga section in bookstores, it's off the charts. There are plenty of young people reading comics, even girls! But it's manga they're going for. Since the American comics aren't developing a new audience, they have to enhance the value for older readers to keep them coming back, like the tobacco companies spiking the nicotine in ciggies. And that means more masturbatory aid females, more fan service, more pandering, just to keep the books moving. It doesn't help that rising prices have pushed comics out of the casual purchase territory for today's teens.

As for pencil and paper RPG's, the demographic is there, same as always, even bigger than before! But they're playing the games on computers now. Video games are poaching those dollars.

There are so many more companies competing for dollars compared to when I was a kid and compared to the previous decades before my time, it's even crazier. DVD's, video games, CD's, MMORPG's, cars, ipods, laptops, computers, not to mention books, comics, etc, too many things to split the entertainment dollar amongst.

Now if they want to talk about video games getting ghettoized, just look at the Wii. Old folks play it. Over the holidays, my sister brought her Wii along and the whole family enjoyed it. It's the first video game system my mom's liked since the Odyssey from the early 80's. Nintendo proved the market is there, companies just have to get inventive about serving it. Same goes for the comics. No self-respecting geek gamer wanted a Wii but it looks like the market is bigger than that. No self-respecting comic publisher would want to trade spandex heroes for yaoi but the girls are buying it up in droves. There are ways to make money, they just might not be the way the industry leaders want to make it.

Re:Label maker. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22441194)

American comics or Japanese?

There's a huge swath of Japanese "manga" at most any decent sized retail bookstore these days. Most of those readers
seem to be teens, early teens, and twenty-somethings.

If you're talking American comics, then most of the readers I see are late 20s and 30s.

Even I read manga anymore and I cut my teeth on Spiderman. The books hold up a lot better and, once you understand the
language and cultural weirdness that can come into play, the stories are just as good, if not better, than what Marvel
is putting out - only with about 300 times more variety in genre.

Re:Label maker. (1)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 6 years ago | (#22440384)

I guess it is, but I didn't see Maus as a "comic". I saw it much more as a literary commentary on the effects of discrimination and hate.

I have that misconception that comics have to be about superheroes and villains and whatnot. And, Maus was required reading for our high school elective class studying Jewish history. I'm not Jewish, but it was a fascinating class. We were going to have a guest speaker who survived the death camps, but he was too frail to do so... That portion of our history is literally dying.

You know what the best games are?? (-1, Redundant)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 6 years ago | (#22440338)

Games are the funnest when you can get with a bunch of friends. No, not over the net, but in real life. We all get together, get some fun games and play for hours. Here's some what we play:

Unreal Tournament original
Total Annihilation
Starcraft
Super Smash Bros - emulated
Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 (and similar 2player fight sims)
Quake3
Magic The Gathering (yes, card game, but crazy fun)
AD&D ed 3.0 - when we have enough people
Wii multiplayer games - Best when we drink, the games get craAAaazy!

It's fun when you're with friends. Other wise, it's all just grind. And that ain't fun.

Re:You know what the best games are?? (3, Funny)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 6 years ago | (#22440378)

Wait wait wait...you get a bunch of friends together and play (mostly) older games....and yet you don't play multiplayer Goldeneye, Masters of Orion, or Diablo? A curse upon your house...

Re:You know what the best games are?? (1)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 6 years ago | (#22440432)

Yah, we play games we all can enjoy, mainly RTSes and FPSes. We all use laptops, so we gravitate on the lowest common denominator. That and TA now has unofficial support for 5000 units per player... We have had wars on 64x64 maps with 30000 units at one time. Meh to Supreme Commander and its onerous graphics and cpu requirements.

And no, We dont like GoldenEye much. We all agree that we hate Do-ya-blow with a passion, and never played MoO (read about it).

Magic is one of our favorites though. They like to play "Kill the guy with the Stasis or Megrim deck..." and thats me. As taken from Gauntlet: Blue Mage Is About To Die.

apples and oranges (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22440358)

The problems with that theory is that the tabletop hasn't changed much in last few years. however video game consoles grow with the growing technology and will almost always be "cutting edge" for the time they are made. I haven't seen a cutting edge board game since this. [wikipedia.org]

1st kill! (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22440360)

Back to my adolescent hobby...

Wii and Guitar Hero.... (1)

LordSnooty (853791) | more than 6 years ago | (#22440370)

...would suggest otherwise, gaming is moving into new areas not well served before. Hde games will only become more accessible for non-gamers. Personally I'm looking forward to fully-immersive games to become a reality. Like a good version of the Virtuality units of old.

Video games are still relatively new (2, Interesting)

internetcommie (945194) | more than 6 years ago | (#22440402)

I can't remember it myself, but in the good ol' days movies were a seen as disreputable form of entertainment only indulged in by youngsters with nothing better to do.
If video games see a similar development, maybe in 50 years or so they will be seen as wholesome entertainment for the whole family?

Entertainment, and education (2, Interesting)

spun (1352) | more than 6 years ago | (#22440462)

More than just entertainment for the whole family, video games can become a great teaching tool. Imagine learning about history in an RPG, witnessing historical events first hand. I still remember Oregon Trail. I wonder why more educational games haven't been released? Textbooks are huge business, why not textbook games?

Re:Entertainment, and education (1)

KublaiKhan (522918) | more than 6 years ago | (#22440614)

Mostly because most educational games are boring rubbish that put 'education' first--shove it in your face--and have the 'game' tacked on after.

Re:Entertainment, and education (3, Interesting)

spun (1352) | more than 6 years ago | (#22440690)

Okay, but for instance, Oregon Trail wasn't rubbish and it taught a lot about the day to day life of a pioneer. I've learned a lot from games that didn't even really try to be educational, for instance, Civil War games, or Civ. Imagine learning about the Magna Carta by role playing King John. Or learning about physics in an interactive virtual physics lab. There are so many possibilities, and so far, they are mostly unrealized. I don't think we can say that about comics.

Re:Entertainment, and education (1)

KublaiKhan (522918) | more than 6 years ago | (#22440830)

You do find games like that from time to time (c.f. Assassin's Creed and the Crusades, a little bit) but for the most part, developers have difficulty striking a balance between "making a game that will sell" and "making a game that will educate."

Oregon Trail managed to turn the life of a pioneer into a resource management simulation fairly decently (and a hunting minigame, which was always ridiculous amounts of fun), and thus succeeded in a decent balance.

Wars are easy, really, because they lend themselves immediately to two genres that have been around forever--strategy and tactics, and FPS games.

Other parts of history tend to lend themselves to games as well, but unless they tie into an existing game type, it's unlikely they'll sell (with few exceptions).

Physics, though, doesn't often lend itself to games unless you're using the physics to, for instance, target something with a catapult or cannon. Beyond that, though, there's usually not a whole lot you can do in a game with it.

Other fields of study are somewhat difficult as well (though I have some small hopes for Cell raising interest in evolutionary biology). You can use the other areas for puzzles, for instance, but outside of RPG puzzles and minigames inside of other games, how are you going to use mathematics or literature to build a game on?

Re:Entertainment, and education (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22440918)

The best games are the ones where you learn without realising.
Dwarf Fortress (http://www.bay12games.com/dwarves/ [bay12games.com] ) taught me about different ores and smelting metals, and in which bands of rock they occur (geology seems to be simulated pretty accurately).

They're around. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22440412)

Puzzle games.
Nethack.

Raise the next generation of children (through strong parenting and education reform) to learn that high culture is something to aspire to.

supply and demand (4, Insightful)

SoupGuru (723634) | more than 6 years ago | (#22440416)

Of course, it's really pretty simple. If there's a demand for games, more games will be made. If there isn't, there won't. We can go around and around on whether X is as popular as Y or is it as popular as B? Who cares?

Right now, the gaming industry is moving a lot of units. There are also a lot of really good games out there now, too. Is this because it's a lucrative market or is the market lucrative because of the good games? Again, an argument that really doesn't matter to anyone that's not trying to get ad clicks.

In summary, if you like to play games, play them. If you don't, no one's forcing you to. No big deal. Life's short. Get some fresh air now and then too...

Re:supply and demand (1, Flamebait)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 6 years ago | (#22440518)

No, only games that are perceived to make large amounts of money are made. Better yet, the treadmill games like World of Warcraft, Everquest, and like games with X$/month are made preferential over others.

And also console games are made. What a waste if you cant upgrade them and make content for them (and no, DRM does not count, ask those xboxers).

Ill look at your games if the following occurs..

Cheap - 30$ or so, you compete with movies and music... both of which can be easily gotten for free
Extensible - Do I expect you all to create new content for free? Nope. But I want to. And I want my friends able to do so.
Console Server - Most do, games like Dawn of War dont, and they suck. We went away from them cause of that.
No cd checks - Hmm... If I pay, im treated like a criminal. If I dl from Piratebay, its cracked. If you treat me like a criminal, ill be damned sure to act like one.
Easy multiplayer Spawn - Just like TA, 1 minute install to get user up and running. No BS. Just play.
Creators Have private server for paying customers - Just like Q3A, private lan can play with no serials. Wanna play on OUR servers? Then pay for it, downloader.

And after all this time, UT and TA get the most play time wise. That's why.

Re:supply and demand (3, Insightful)

tthomas48 (180798) | more than 6 years ago | (#22440572)

Actually, a pretty good sign of "art" is that it gets created irrespective of commercial demand for it. So a bust might be good in that we might see video games created for the sake of creation.

Re:supply and demand (0, Redundant)

MindPhlux (304416) | more than 6 years ago | (#22440574)

I agree! Life is just too short to think or wonder about things. No big deal, who cares?

Re:supply and demand (1)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 6 years ago | (#22440698)

If there's a demand for games, more games will be made. If there isn't, there won't. We can go around and around on whether X is as popular as Y or is it as popular as B? Who cares?
Who cares? Gamers do! The games industry do! Whether they're popular or not strongly affects our chances of playing video games in the future. Even if there is demand, the more demand we have, the more choices we will get in which games we want to play. In other words, popularity is everything to the future of gaming.

Education occurs whether its intended or not (1)

irtza (893217) | more than 6 years ago | (#22440418)

Video games develop a set of skills just as reading a literary work improves comprehension. Problem solving skills are often best learned by being tasks to complete. Video games if properly utilized can be used to develop problem solving skills along with motor skills. The appeal of educational video games (which were already around when I was in elementary school) may wear off, but I highly doubt they will disappear. Just as there are sports that some people don't enjoy during PE, there will be games given in school that some kids won't like. The real question is whether people will be tested in there game playing skills. Are people expecting a rise of gaming to the point that people will expect competency at it? Will it be considered appropriate that a fifth grader can properly solve certain tasks presented in a virtual environment that has been deemed appropriate for them? The thing is, people who play RPGs do learn certain skill sets whether they intended it or not. People playing a FPS develop certain skills. Finding a way to translate these skills to the real world (robotic surgery or engineering) is a task for the next generation of teachers. Using examples from pop culture has always been a teaching modality - it depends on the quality and capabilities of the educator to show the relationship between things done in the classroom and how they can help in daily life. I am sure someone much smarter than me will one day show the great wisdom gained by being a WOW farmer (couldn't come up with a better example, I don't play video games much - I spent my childhood writing and hacking cheesy games instead of playing them - but that is because I suck at them).

Art (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22440426)

Remember, it's not art unless it takes eight or more years of expensive (and exclusive) education to enjoy it.

Everything else is just "folk art". But we just call it "art" to make the simpletons feel better. They aren't good enough to begin to understand Art.

Re:Art (4, Funny)

DeadDecoy (877617) | more than 6 years ago | (#22440610)

By that consideration games could be considered art. Some of my friends have spent 8 years mastering the zerg rush and camping creeps for loot and they're still in college!

Re:Art (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22441180)

No, but being able to understand something beyond a shallow depth is what makes art, and life, far more interesting. A work of art that can be enjoyed on many levels, some of which you haven't even discovered yet, is much more rewarding than something that stimulates your pleasure centers for a few seconds and then gets forgotten (like most "pop" art). (Of course, the best art does both).

Certainly, it's "cool" to poke fun at "snobs" who explain the reasons why a certain artist's work turned so dark at a certain point in his life, or who laugh at a jazz solo because the artist snuck in a few bars of another song with a similar title, or who can appreciate how difficult a scene in a movie was to create because they studied cinematography, or who point out that a funny children's story you loved as a kid was actually a fable about a repressive government. After all your comment got modded up, right?

But instead, maybe you could just see it this way: some people find enjoyment in ways that you don't, and maybe even see things in ways you haven't learned to yet.

Violence (2, Insightful)

DreadPiratePizz (803402) | more than 6 years ago | (#22440430)

Only if videogames learn to use gameplay mechanisms that don't involve violence. Right now, the majority of videogames are violent, whether that be shooting, punching, or stomping enemies. If the games industry were hollywood, this would belike having 70% of the films be action movies. Of course, 70% of movies are not action movies. Video games need to diversify.

Not everybody is even good at the gameplay mechanisms required. Portal is intellectually challenging with its puzzles, but the coordination required makes it hard for a lot of people to play it. I think adventure games had this right all allong: a simple interface, gameplay that involves puzzle solving and curiosity, and the opportunity to create a good story driven by the player. Instead we have shoot shoot, a cutscene with story here, shoot shoot more shooting.

It's gettign better, but it's not there yet.

Re:Violence (3, Interesting)

Dynedain (141758) | more than 6 years ago | (#22440606)

Not true.

The majority of games are of the puzzle/Tetris variety. Bejeweled was far more popular (in terms of users, and hours played) than the top-rated FPS, and I'd guess that MS Solitaire comes pretty close behind it.

Re:Violence (5, Interesting)

corsec67 (627446) | more than 6 years ago | (#22440820)

You think a game that came with Windows 3.1 and up is less popular than Bejeweled, a flash game?

I bet the 2 most popular games, in terms of man-hours spent playing it, are minesweeper and solitaire.

Re:Violence (1)

Cctoide (923843) | more than 6 years ago | (#22440634)

Tomorrow's EA press release: "More dating simulators!"

Re:Violence (0, Flamebait)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 6 years ago | (#22441154)

If you don't have the coordination to play games, you aren't the target audience. Go play a boardgame.

Do you also complain that baseball takes too much skill to hit the ball, and until they make the ball bigger and go slower, it'll remain a niche sport?

video games as art? (5, Informative)

majorgoodvibes (1228026) | more than 6 years ago | (#22440438)

Last year Roger Ebert responded to Clive Barker's comments on Ebert not considering video games art:

http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070721/COMMENTARY/70721001 [suntimes.com]

There are some good thoughts in there even though Ebert is definitely in "Get off my lawn" territory.

I love the Half-Life series. I think there's a lot of wit and intelligence and creativity there that you don't see in a lot of other games. But every time I sit down to play a new episode I inevitably think: "It's just a First Person Shooter." Portal gets even higher marks for creativity. The way they develop the GLaDOS character and the use of plot twists and the out-of-left-field use of music is brilliant. But is it art?

I guess I tend to think of video games being "artful" rather than "art".

Re:video games as art? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22440722)

the general principle of ebert-type people who make a distinction "high" art and "low" art are that if the average person can enjoy it, or if you can do more than look at it, it's not high art and never will be

Re:video games as art? (1)

Arccot (1115809) | more than 6 years ago | (#22440834)

Last year Roger Ebert responded to Clive Barker's comments on Ebert not considering video games art...

Of course, Ebert never defines "high art." If he did, I'm sure it would be something along the lines of "I know it when I see it." His main point is that "high art" cannot be interactive. I would argue high art is something that touches you emotionally more than most other non-personal experiences. That seems to be in-line with what Barker is saying.

By that definition, for me, games are more artistic in general than any other "art". Pretty much any game on my top 20 list would be worthy of being high art.

Re:video games as art? (1)

Omestes (471991) | more than 6 years ago | (#22440994)

This is an issue I've been pondering for a very long time, from a philosophy/aesthetics point of view. the real problem here is that we lack a sufficient definition of art in the first place, people have been asking what art is since Socrates, and we STILL don't have a bloody clue. It belongs in that class of "I know it when I see it" ideas, in that what we call art is largely defined by culture, time, and arbitrary academics.

To a large part art is vetted by time, just like all things. We really don't know if any current game will be considered art, we must wait a couple decades for the lens of history to tell us. I guess aesthetics is largely Darwinian in that sense.

I'm still out on video games being art. I think they might have some "arty" potential, but I somewhat doubt that any single game actually has reached that pinnacle yet. Art must reflect the times in which it was created, and so far no videogame has really captured this aspect, as far as I can see.

If anyone is interested, I have a couple articles on aesthetics and videogames on my (defunct) blog [blogspot.com] , if you excuse the shameless self-promotion.

At the risk of sounding elitist... (5, Insightful)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 6 years ago | (#22440470)

... American Comics deserve every bit of ghettoization they have. The vast majority are of the superhero type, which are mindboggingly complex in their timelines, crossovers, retconning and super powers galore. Compare this with European comics (specifically Belgian and French), and you'll find everything from High Art to Low Art, super heros, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, surreal, spy, WW2, funny, serious, story-driven, art-driven, and anything else you can think of.

As an example, after hearing so much about the Sandman chronicles, I browsed through one. I found the art disappointing, and the story mildly interesting. However, it was still miles beyond any of the DC and Marvel comic books next to it.

Yes, there are great examples of American comic artists - Frank Miller comes to mind. But they are the vast exception in a sea of mediocrity.

This is also why I think that videogames will escape ghettoization - they are a worldwide phenomenon, and this alone will prevent them from sliding into a state that is as narrowly focused as american comics. To some extent, I think they already have. I can think of a number of games that are more art than game - Psychonauts, for one. Okami, for another.

Re:At the risk of sounding elitist... (1)

bickle (101226) | more than 6 years ago | (#22440658)

As an example, after hearing so much about the Sandman chronicles, I browsed through one. I found the art disappointing, and the story mildly interesting.

Yes, there are great examples of American comic artists - Frank Miller comes to mind.
Pretty hard to take this seriously after those two comments. Dismissing one of the best comics because after browsing one issue you found that the art was disappointing? And holding up Frank Miller as a great example? Clearly you haven't read his stuff lately. All Star Batman & Robin is one of the worst high-profile comics around.

Re:At the risk of sounding elitist... (1)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 6 years ago | (#22440920)

You're right, I haven't read any of Frank Miller's stuff from less than 10 years ago. I was referring primarily to his Dark Knight series, and that largely on the strength of the art. As for not liking the art of Sandman.... I think it's amateurish, too reliant on ink work and not enough detail for my taste. Yes, taste is in the eye of the beholder. But I was still disappointed to find out that what is considered in the US one of the best comics ever looks like sketch work and reads like run of the mill fantasy/surreal stuff.

At the risk of applying Occam's Razor... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22441004)

I don't think you're elitist. I think you're just not seeing the big picture.

... American Comics deserve every bit of ghettoization they have. The vast majority are of the superhero type, which are mindboggingly complex in their timelines, crossovers, retconning and super powers galore.

Sturgeon's Law not disproven by comics, film at 11!

Compare this with European comics (specifically Belgian and French), and you'll find everything from High Art to Low Art, super heros, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, surreal, spy, WW2, funny, serious, story-driven, art-driven, and anything else you can think of.

Of course, you can find these in American and Japanese comics, too. The difference is that they only bother to import the good stuff from Belgium, so when we see Belgian comics, we think they're all great.

As an example, after hearing so much about the Sandman chronicles, I browsed through one. I found the art disappointing, and the story mildly interesting. However, it was still miles beyond any of the DC and Marvel comic books next to it.

If it had been written in France, and was only so-so, would they have bothered to translate and import it for you to find on the shelf in America? I think what you're seeing is what statisticians call "sampling bias".

Yes, there are great examples of American comic artists - Frank Miller comes to mind. But they are the vast exception in a sea of mediocrity.

Sturgeon's Law, damn you! Why can't comics be like romantic comedies or Esperanto poetry or hip-hop music, where 100% of artists worldwide are great at it?

This is also why I think that videogames will escape ghettoization - they are a worldwide phenomenon, and this alone will prevent them from sliding into a state that is as narrowly focused as american comics. To some extent, I think they already have. I can think of a number of games that are more art than game - Psychonauts, for one. Okami, for another.

I think what you're seeing here is less the difference in medium between videogames and comics, and more the difference in medium between paper and digital. Webcomics are kicking butt today, in large part because worldwide distribution is so cheap.

Of course, games may have a slight leg up, because comics often rely more on words, and so translation is a smaller fraction of the cost of conversion. You can even play videogames if you don't understand any of the words -- I've done it. Then again, often you can get fans to translate your webcomic for you. Over time, the cost of producing videogames has gone way up, and the cost of producing comics has gone way down. I read comics every day which are written by one person with a copy of Photoshop; I can't remember the last game I played that was developed by fewer than 20 full-time employees. This is the ghetto they should be worrying about: how can games remain innovative if the creativity has to be filtered through a company? I've seen great movies made by 1/10th as many people as some games.

Re:At the risk of sounding elitist... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22441084)

I just think of this as something like a big bag full of sh*t.
Like, games, comics, movies, literature, sports, they are just one thing: a way for males to show off their goods for the females on the eternal and complex mating ritual of our Human species.
So, once you bring all this artsy debate to its crude Darwinist reality, it comes down to one only thing: We need more pr0n on videogames, as we have in literature, comics and movies... In the end, it is all about sex anyways...

Gaming is here to stay; but.... (1)

cjonslashdot (904508) | more than 6 years ago | (#22440476)

Gaming is definitely here to stay. In fact, it is differentiating and becoming ever more sophisticated every day. What gaming will become will be full virtual worlds, with total immersion. Display technology is poised to become extremely cheap, and we will have wall-sized displays in our homes. Eventually they will be 3-D, and the graphics will benefit from massive parallelism to make the scenes indistinguishable from reality. And just as with alcohol and every other attraction that can be abused, there will be many people who live in a fake world every moment when they are not working; and just as the majority of people do not grow mentally once they leave school, there will be a majority that go home every night and live in the game world and do nothing of significance in the real world. Meanwhile, the game makers will fly their jet planes and have real-life experiences while the masses live in a dream world, drugged on the synthetic products created for them. I see nothing wrong with where the technology is headed; I just lament that most people will be controlled by it instead of controlling it: but not all.

there's no feeling (3, Insightful)

mewsenews (251487) | more than 6 years ago | (#22440486)

a friend of mine who is a fellow bookworm were talking several years back, and i told him about how i hadn't been touched by the plot of final fantasy 7 in the way that a lot of other people had (there's a touching bit where the female lead character dies and i had heard from several people who had said they'd been deeply moved by it).

he looked at me and said "maybe you and i aren't as affected by it because we actually read".

the cinema, theatre, and music can all be as deeply stirring as a good novel. comic books don't seem to get it most of the time, but there are "graphic novels" that attempt to speak in an adult way about adult situations.

games are just another popular art form, for better or for worse.

Re:there's no feeling (4, Interesting)

H0p313ss (811249) | more than 6 years ago | (#22440678)

games are just another popular art form, for better or for worse.

Moreover games are an EMERGING popular art form, most emerging art forms are effectively shunned by the mainstream art world until they BECOME the mainstream. Video games as a medium are only a few decades old, and as a MASS market medium only a decade or so.

Look at the history of movies and movie making for example, how many directors, actors or script writers were recognized as artists in 1920 or 1930? Compare that with the explosion of the art form in the 50's and 60's. Note also the parallel between the censorship that occurred then with film that is now beginning with games.

People who DO look at the best of the gaming world as an art form and appreciate it as such are becoming more and more common, and as that progresses so will it's recognition by the mainstream art world. This is probably not something that will happen overnight, I expect it will take years or decades... but I wouldn't be at all surprised if 50 years from now there was not a gaming equivalent of the academy awards where some otherwise unknown will get the "Best Rendering in a Simulated World" and getting a script writing credit on the "Game of the Year" is as valued as much as one for a major film.

Patience Grasshopper, waiting is... you grok?

Welcome to 1936! (5, Insightful)

jacobw (975909) | more than 6 years ago | (#22440884)

I think you're right on the money about games being an emerging form, and you're right to compare games to film as well. In fact, the more you know about film, the more striking that analogy becomes. So if you'll forgive a film geek for drawing the analogy in even more detail:

When film first began, it was a widely accepted fact that it would never be an art form. To a large degree, this was because people mistook temporary technical limitations for inherent artistic ones. "Film is silent and in black and white, and theater is in color with sound. Film will therefore always be an inferior version of the stage, at best." Indeed, film was generally seen as nothing more than lowbrow entertainment for illiterates, immigrants, and other types deemed inferior by meanstream society.

But then technicians solved more and more of the technical problems--allowing filmmakers to tell longer stories, and to film in more settings--and meanwhile, filmmakers were learning more and more about the possibilities of this new art form. Even before sound and color, you were beginning to have masterpieces that were recognized as works of art. Birth of a Nation was the first one, although it seems crude (and horribly racist) by modern standards. But by the time you got to the 1920s, people were making films that can still move modern audiences. Yet it took another decade or two for highbrow literary critics to catch on to this explosion of creativity.

The comparison to games is pretty obvious, I think. Technical developments are allowing better and better visual effects, and game makers are getting more and more sophisticated about exploiting the strengths of the form and working around the weaknesses. I would say that Doom was the gaming world's equivalent of Birth of A Nation--a work of tremendous energy that synthesized a whole lot of already existing elements into something that felt new and exciting. And I would say Deus Ex and Thief were like the films of the early 1920's--one day they will be classics, but when they came out, they were still part of a particular artistic ghetto. And now videogames are catching up to the films of the late 1920's/early 1930s--they are very sophisticated, and the outside world is just beginning to wake up to their merit.

One last thought: if commercial gaming began in 1972 with Pong, then the medium is 36 years old. If commercial film began in 1896 with the Lumiere brothers, then it would have been 36 years old in 1932. Which means that videogaming is evolving right on schedule. This means we can expect the Citizen Kane of the videogame world sometime in the next five or six years...

Re:there's no feeling (1)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 6 years ago | (#22440694)

he looked at me and said "maybe you and i aren't as affected by it because we actually read".
Your friend is quite wrong. I've read a great many books in my time, and still do. I wasn't touched by the plot point of FF7 you mentioned, but I was extremely moved by the plot of the game as a whole.

If you aren't moved by the plot of something, it's rather pretentious to presume it's because you're too good for it (or some other similar sentiment), isn't it? Apparently the plot (or plot point) wasn't very interesting to you... but that has precious little to do with how much you read, it's just how that particular story resonated with you. Another may be more or less moving, but the cause is the plot, not your exposure to other media.

Re:there's no feeling (1)

stormguard2099 (1177733) | more than 6 years ago | (#22440882)

Books are the same as movies, music, videogames, comics, etc. they are all MEDIUMS. They are worth no more than what is put into them.

On that note,to claim that books are more sophisticated or developed, etc is a bit of an unfair fight. Books and music have been around for centuries and centuries. Does it surprise you that they have diversified themselves more than comics and videogames?

Plus, I'd say that in the case of videogames there are real limits on what can be produced, as in hardware, input devices, etc. Books are only confined by imagination and perhaps language.

Give videogames a few centuries or even a few more decades, still a faction of the amount of time that books have been around then let's see how inspiring they can be.

"maybe you and i aren't as affected by it because we actually read"
I'll assume your friend was implying "quality literature" in his statement. Ok, enough ranting, back to my Tolkien or Galdós.

....or... (1)

Jack Conrad (898450) | more than 6 years ago | (#22441036)

It could just be that you like the dramatic experiences that you make up better than those that are put before you. Depending upon the 'literature' that you read, the author makes demands upon you to visualize the situation and fill in the gaps s/he left out. No matter how good a writer s/he is, something will be left out. There is truth in the saying, 'a picture is worth a thousand words.' Pictures, especially moving ones, generate a sense of the event for you with details that may not be exactly as you would have imagined them if you had free reign to create them yourself.

If you look at a highly detailed picture and you see a man leaning over a corpse crying, there is only one interpretation of the physical nature of the event. The man can only give one expression; can only give one pose; that everyone who views that picture will share.

Books are not quite like that; words are far more fluid. Unlike the people who would view the aforementioned picture and share the same image, each person who would read about the man leaning over the corpse and crying would take away a different mental image. Maybe, if the writer wrote a novel about the man leaning over the corpse, it might come close to the accuracy of the photograph, but it is unlikely.

Not that ambiguity is a bad thing, however, don't attack other media just because your imagination is good. Visual media suffer from less ambiguity and, in the case of viewing static images, generally require less imagination than textual mediums.

As for, specifically, your issue with Final Fantasy 7; I wasn't moved either, however, I'm seldom moved by cinema or books either. However, I think the issue with Final Fantasy (in general) is that it plays against the strengths of gaming; it isn't hugely interactive and games that are not interactive don't really allow you to gain a connection with the characters.

Example: If I set down and play the Sims; spend 8+ hours making a family, generating back story, building their house, and creating a neighborhood for them to inhabit; and in the first 30 minutes they end up dying by fire (and I didn't intend for that to happen); I will be far more distraught then seeing a character that I didn't really control too much and didn't like to much in the first place dying.

From here I could do a whole rant on how I'm upset with the lack of RPG in MMORPG's, but now that most of them are MMO's, I can't be too angry...

The solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22440524)

The fix is to sh!t-can the twitch-reflex games and go back to the more cerebral RPG's

Remember Full Throttle? What about Torins Passage, or Leisure Suit Larry?

Games can be both fun and mentally stimulating, they can incorporate AI and puzzle solving, and exercise more than our targeting reflexes.

All it takes is creativity and a willingness to focus developer energy on the plot behind the game instead of trying to outdo each other in implementing ray-traced motion-blurred explosions.

Like comic books in America? (2, Insightful)

qcubed (655212) | more than 6 years ago | (#22440526)

I think it's entirely possible, and I think it's quite a good analogy--but not in the same sense that he's using it.

Part of the reason why comic books, at least in the United States, aren't accorded as much respect as an art form can probably be traced back to the hysterical allegations of Dr. Fredric Wertham in his book Seduction of the Innocent. In short, he claimed that within those pulp pages, the amount of violence, of innuendo and sex, and the like would twist and stunt the growth of the children consuming them--and lead to crime, as well, by glamourizing it.

As a result, the publishers themselves began to censor their books with the industry's own Comics Code, refusing to take chances with so-called weighty subjects, and ultimately consigned themselves to a niche audience that, until recently was utterly unable to get any significant mindshare among the general public; even today, comic books and graphic novels are rarely accorded the same respect that other, textual novels are given, so much so that movies such as Road to Perdition try, somewhat, to obscure their source material.

These days, it's Jack Thompson and his ilk claiming that within the realm of the electronic world, the violence of Unreal Tournament, the sex in God of War, the anatomic issues in The Sims and the like are seducing the youth of our country and twisting their growth by forming them into school shooters and contributing to the deplorable state of culture and decline of the US.

This, coupled with ballooning budgets for games, is leading game publishers to not only inconsistently apply their own self-censorship group, but stick to only those games that have made money in the past and try to deflect criticism away from themselves any way they can; weighty subjects are less likely to be tackled in games such as these, precisely because returns for the money aren't as guaranteed, and the response from modern-day Werthams would decry the fact that these games are filled with sin, even if they're as exquisitely crafted as, say, To Kill a Mockingbird, Bridge to Terabithia, A Wrinkle in Time, 1984, and the like.

If anything, it's that mentality that would consign videogames to any sort of cultural "ghetto".

Of course, on foreign shores, like Japan, comics never had to fight the puritanical streak; it's doubtful they're suffering from the same odd notions about games there these days, too.

The Nintendo Wii (1)

QJimbo (779370) | more than 6 years ago | (#22440538)

Wasn't the idea behind the Wii to *stop* this from happening? Seems like a stupid time to say such a thing just after games like Brain Training for the DS and the intuitive Wii console have been released.

Higher art? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22440542)

One of the best games that comes to mind is Ultima 7.

Somes games are pretty deep (1)

Antiocheian (859870) | more than 6 years ago | (#22440544)

I can think of Siberia: after finishing the first part of the game I felt like I had finished reading a great novel.

why is it different from other forms of media? (1)

TheSpengo (1148351) | more than 6 years ago | (#22440576)

Just because COD4 outsold more "artistic" games like Bioshock or Portal that doesn't go to say that these games sold poorly either. They are also among the most-bought games of this year after all, even if they didn't quite reach #1. You can say the same thing about books too, since pop-culture paperbacks often sell more than a masterpiece. I think this goes for any form of media. Also, it completely depends on the demographic you ask whether or not it's easier to play videogames or read a book. Obviously these people have never met my mother...

d) All of the above (5, Interesting)

Ryvar (122400) | more than 6 years ago | (#22440586)

Full disclosure: I worked heavily on the production of Bioshock's voiceover, so I have a bit of an opinion on this topic.

My own take is that gaming is a very broad medium - possibly even beyond film. We see in the film industry a single medium containing both Requiem For A Dream and Dumb and Dumberer. Miller's Crossing and Sister Act 2: Back In The Habit.

Games (not "entertainment software", games, damnit) cover a similar spectrum, even if the high-brow fare is a bit thin on the ground right now. Such was the case for film when that industry was gaming's current age.

At this point in time much of the gaming industry occupies the same functional niche as pornography - people go home after an exhausting day at work, have a beer, demolish noobs on Team Fortress 2 to relax, and then go to bed. But the existence of pornography in film does not prevent that medium from providing works of real intellectual and artistic substance. Neither does gaming as pornography - both literally and metaphorically - hinder the development of deeper experiences.

I think if anything gaming provides the potential for experiences of greater power than film because we can develop both narrative-driven and sandbox experiences for our audience. We've seen the promise of the latter in GTA*, Oblivion, and I believe we'll see more of it in Spore. We've witnessed an outstanding achievement in the former named Call of Duty 4 - and my hat is off to Infinity Ward for such an amazing work. Beyond the singleplayer, massively multiplayer games can also provide a great range of experiences - from Ultima Online's open-ended fantasy simulation to Planetside's extremely structured gameplay.

We will get gaming to the level where it can be taken seriously as a work of art. We are getting it to that level. Right this moment. Your patience, please. :)

*I am a Take 2 employee, blah blah blah the opinions expressed here do not reflect the views of my employer etc. etc. ad nauseum.

Re:d) All of the above (1)

Ryvar (122400) | more than 6 years ago | (#22440650)

I should mention I'm not slagging Valve - TF2 is the best multiplayer game I've played in basically forever. It's just that from a functional perspective people generally use round-based multiplayer games as if they were pornography. I'm not sure whether that's unfortunate or really the entire point, though.

Re:d) All of the above (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22440656)

So? We get it, you work for Take 2, etc, etc. What is with all of this disclosure-mania that has been going on here lately? No one would have known where you work had you not mentioned it. That was obviously the whole point of your post.

Adolescent boys. (1)

Besna (1175279) | more than 6 years ago | (#22440680)

Where does beer fit in here?

not a great comparison (1)

cowscows (103644) | more than 6 years ago | (#22440598)

I don't think that you can draw a useful comparison between comics and games in the way that this article seems to be trying to do. Comics are a genre, of literature I guess. Video games are more like literature than comics, in that you're talking about a broader range of things, which can be broken down into genres. (which isn't to say that you can't break down a genre such as comics further.)

You could probably make a decent argument that some genres of video games have already fallen into a 'ghetto'. Flight-sims are only a small slice of the video game market, and adventure games have sort of fallen by the wayside. Either through market shifts, or just certain types of games basically becoming obsolete, genres will grow and wane in popularity, but probably never completely disappear.

So? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22440600)

Comics don't HAVE to be like that, y'know. Just take a look beyond the crap churned out in the USA by the likes of Marvel and DC (and in Japan by the manga industry) and check out the Franco-Belgian comic scene, for instance.

Games, ultimately, are going to be similar - there's going to be a lot of big-budget crap, but also lots of smaller, indep productions. In fact, it's *already* like that, and FWIW, the movie industry would be a better analogy, anyway.

But as someone already indicated in a tag on the story: who cares as long as it's fun?

Lack of weighty subjects? PSHAW! (4, Funny)

MadFarmAnimalz (460972) | more than 6 years ago | (#22440644)

The lack of weighty subjects ceased being a problem in the video game industry many years ago, when Tomb Raider's Lara Croft gave us not one but two weighty subjects to consider.

The Perfect Setup (4, Insightful)

v(*_*)vvvv (233078) | more than 6 years ago | (#22440674)

Games are different. There will always be games in one form or another. Which form will they take? Well, if convenience and accessibility have anything to do with it, then how about in my living room, on my pc, my cell, or a portable device in my pocket? Coincidentally, these all fall under "video games". So unless these mediums go away, video games are here to stay.

As a species we've been playing games far before we started reading, and surely we will continue far after we stop.

Art? Maybe. Culturally Significant? Yes. (1)

LordZardoz (155141) | more than 6 years ago | (#22440696)

The question is useless if you have the mindset that the answer must always be yes for videogames to have a significant cultural impact.

Most games are not art. Some games come close, most do not. It simply does not matter. A more important and useful question would be 'Are Vidoegames culturally significant?'. There are many things that are culturally significant that are not in any great way considered art.

World of Warcraft is not art in and of its self. But you can say that it is a common experience shared by millions of people across different cultures. It is a medium in which people who may otherwise never interact with one another or meet one another may do so repeatedly. To me, that is culturally significant.

Video games have caused various laws to be passed and debated. In the US, those laws are generally along the lines of what content ought to be allowed. Content we would not think much about in a more passive form is much more sensitive when presented in an interactive form. In Japan, there have been laws passed to prevent the DragonQuest series from launching new games on work days because too many people skipped school and work.

Also, for a fad, videogames has endured and thrived for far longer than a typical fad would. How many fads persist beyond 25 years?

Who cares if they are not Art. They have become a rather important aspect of modern culture regardless.

END COMMUNICATION

One huge difference (1)

Giant Electronic Bra (1229876) | more than 6 years ago | (#22440708)

It cost Leo Tolstoy what to write 'War and Peace'? 20 bucks worth of paper and 4 or 5 (ok 12) pens?

Even a modest video game is going to cost 5 million $, and the decent ones are 10x or more. They HAVE to have mass market appeal. There will never be much in the way of really high quality games that aren't 'pop culture'. At least not until one person can make them single handed, or with a couple of people and a really small budget (like indy films).

Maybe If Kids Learned How To Read... (2, Interesting)

Wandering Wombat (531833) | more than 6 years ago | (#22440714)

Video games may be a hell of a lot easier to learn than literature appreciation, or even basic literacy, but I do have one question about that...

So?

My son is so incredibly happy that he's picking up reading skills that the Nintendo and my wife's computer are almost growing dusty from lack of use while he spends his time reading dinosaur books, and Calvin & Hobbes. True, hardly great literature, but the fact is just because something's easier to do doesn't mean it's going to win outright.

Then again, maybe the issue isn't the kids... let's face it, movies with substance, with a message, with depth and meaning don't tend to make a lot of money, and thus either don't get made, or only get shown on select screens for two weeks, and then fade into obscurity. Transformers made HOW much money?

Aging process (1)

Smith55js (1206108) | more than 6 years ago | (#22440716)

The reason gaming is taking a more prominent role in pop culture and gaining an ever widening audience has more to do with the fact that people who grew up playing video games are moving into an older demographic. More and more parents nowadays buying games for their kids also played video games when they were kids. Video games will gain another step when it gets to the point when first generation gamers become grandparents.

Bah (1)

snarfies (115214) | more than 6 years ago | (#22440724)

How many comics have been turned into highly successful movies, let's see, off the top of my head:

Batman
Superman
Fantastic 4
X-Men
Spiderman
The Hulk
Hellboy
Blade ...not to mention lesser successes (Catwoman, etc)

That's the kind of "ghetto" I'd like to be stuck in. How many book->movie conversions have had such success, percentage-wise?

Re:Bah (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22440754)

How many book->movie conversions have had such success, percentage-wise?


You are kidding, right?

You forgot Daredevil (1)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 6 years ago | (#22440826)

The superhero who was raised in the ghetto, and he fights to improve things.

Retailer's View (1)

adamjgp (1229860) | more than 6 years ago | (#22440760)

I work for a large company that sells many things, including video games. I feel that video games should be considered an art form and appreciated as such, however the average "gamer" couldn't give a crap. Now I consider a gamer anyone who walks into my store and has a passion for a game, genre, developer, etc. The important part is the passion. During my time in the industry I find that the average "gamer", while passionate about their chosen game, is not interested in gaming as an art form. The ignorance of the common "gamer" is what is holding video games back as an art form. Until the population of "gamers" begins to appreciate their games as works of art, the outside world will continue to cast down and ridicule.

Narrative is much much older than gaming (1)

grumpygrodyguy (603716) | more than 6 years ago | (#22440822)

He discusses some ways to address that, but do you have any solutions? Or are games doomed to be the playthings of adolescent boys for the rest of the century? (And yeah, I resent the 'comics ghetto' label too.)

This author is making a false assumption.

Narrative entertainment has many forms, and has evolved over thousands of years. From oral tradition, to plays, to books, to film, to comic books, etc. What do all these forms of entertainment have in common? Passivity. The viewer exercises no control over the medium, and places his or her mind into the hands of the artist(s).

With gaming however, the audience is required to take part, and in some cases even re-write the story. As a race, we've had about 30 years to explore electronic gaming vs. the thousands of years we've spent with narrative...to claim that we've exhausted the possibilities of electronic gaming after such a short span is very presumptuous. To make parallel comparisons with something as mature as narrative is absurd.

Faster processors, more cores, multi-threaded apps, more memory, larger & faster hard-drives, faster network connections, lower network latencies, better AI, natural language processing, facial recognition, mesh networks, ..., etc.

Any combination of the above technical improvements could open a window into an application space we've never seen before. Gaming is not a dead medium, it's an evolving medium that's restricted by what our computers are capable of...and that's a restriction that will continue to relax into the foreseeable future.

Average video gamer age is 33... (1)

LinDVD (986467) | more than 6 years ago | (#22440896)

The quote: "...playthings of adolescent boys..." is completely dismissing the fact that the average video gamer is 33 years old [theeca.com] , so the submitter of this article has put forward a false assumption/non-factual belief.

Threadjack (0, Offtopic)

coop247 (974899) | more than 6 years ago | (#22440912)

Is anyone actually surprised that on a day that the PS3 and PS2 both outsold [ign.com] the XBox 360, hardware shortages and the Blu-Ray win lead to a perfect storm [arstechnica.com] , and we actually get some numbers on 360 failure rate [arstechnica.com] , that /. doesn't have a thing about it.

Lowest Common Denominator Marketing (1)

unlametheweak (1102159) | more than 6 years ago | (#22440940)

The best example of innovation came from a game that many of the business people just didn't want to finance, and that is Sim City (and the Sim off shoots). It was a truly think-outside-the-box game; no obvious win scenario, with the real pleasure coming from just creating cities and learning how different elements interacted with each other. As the years went on it proved itself to be an enduring contender.

Unfortunately the business people (as opposed to the creative minds) will have the ultimate say in how long a franchise like this lives. In order to try and maximize their profits these people and the games they finance will inevitably be constrained by their economic and marketing equations. Take for example the decision to turn Sim City into Sim Societies; a much easier to understand marketing vehicle: easier and more intuitive to play than developing Sim City into a yet more complex and compelling game / simulation, and thus making it harder to play and more niche-like. Sim City could probably be profitable for decades to come, but with diminishing returns due to the increasing realism and complexity that would be had as it is further developed.

Much the same can be said for the pre-mature death of Sim Earth. A very interesting and educational game, and I suspect that at least part of its demise was the rather poor windows port of this game (the Mac Version was awesome).

Of course if people start bringing politics into the game creation equation then this will also be a hindrance to creativity. Games like politics also strive towards the lowest common denominator. So it goes.

Re:Lowest Common Denominator Marketing (1)

stormguard2099 (1177733) | more than 6 years ago | (#22441074)

Of course if people start bringing politics into the game creation equation then this will also be a hindrance to creativity.
You just gave me an awesome idea! imagine this: Sim Politics.

You could work your way up from mayor of your town to president of the world. You could choose which bribes to accept, who to lie to, and all the other fun things that come along with being a politician. Tell me that game wouldn't kick ass if it was done right.

Re:Lowest Common Denominator Marketing (1)

JakusMinimus (49854) | more than 6 years ago | (#22441216)

You just gave me an awesome idea! imagine this: Sim Politics.

You could work your way up from mayor of your town to president of the world. You could choose which bribes to accept, who to lie to, and all the other fun things that come along with being a politician. Tell me that game wouldn't kick ass if it was done right.
You just gave me an awesome idea! imagine this: Sim Suicide.

You could watch people play Sim Politics (or hey, even the real thing!) and then feel compelled to shoot yourself in the face.

Comics are in a ghetto? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22440948)

This is sort of a pet peeve of mine -- while it's true that 90% of comics are of the superhero-variety, a number of comics are treating the medium as a new way to tell a story instead of delivering mostly-vapid storylines. Blankets, Fun Home, Maus, Flight, etc. all are stellar examples of how comics are emerging from this 'ghetto' and becoming something more respected.

The problem is with distribution -- but for those looking to find more 'serious' games should look to the indie gaming scene instead of the shelves at their local Game Stop.

What is Art? Who Cares! (2, Insightful)

AnonymousRobin (1058634) | more than 6 years ago | (#22441028)

As artists can't even agree on what is and isn't art when they're talking about art, it's unlikely we'll come to an agreement with games, but even if the vast majority of games are just there to be popular and fun, there will always be the Frank Millers and others who aren't as popular, but continue to create not because they just want the money, but because they want to actually create something artistic (choose some definition of art: your choice). Even if they don't sell as much, people have a natural inclination to search for what they consider beautiful, and that will always attract a decent amount to the good stuff, even if the rest has no more plot than Packman (even if they're fun).



As a medium, though, games actually have a vast amount of untapped potential, because they are so different from movies or books or paintings. When you start up Half-Life, you are IMMEDIATELY Gordon Freeman. When people talk to you, you have a direct connection to them and you're a part of things. You aren't just reading, "'...', said Gordon blankly." You get to be Gordon... err... blankly '...'ing. In a way, this is similar to interactive fiction. Check out Adam Cadre's IF [adamcadre.ac] for instance, which makes extensive use of using an immediate connection as a player to shape perspective. Photopia is an excellent example. It's a game with virtually no real gameplay, but it tells a story in a way no book or movie could. I think video games in general have this same potential. This potential is around storytelling and communicating ideas and emotions in a different, direct way than anything else - through experience rather than empathy or capturing a single moment. Whether it's art or not is irrelevant, though personally, I'd say that the quality and ability to communicate ideas and emotions is probably pretty important in the definition of art.

Commiditize the medium (1)

UseCase (939095) | more than 6 years ago | (#22441124)

The technological base that video/computer games are built on has just recently come to a point where the emphasis can be on actual game design and what makes a fun game and not software development, architecture, how to make a game/graphics engine etc... There are free and commercial engines available now that are relatively easy to use and allow a game designer to focus on game design just as the recent shift to digital video and digital cameras has reduced the complexity of entry of up and coming filmmakers into the indie film industry. This almost has to happen for any industrial medium to transition to an artistic medium.

            Visuals arts, architecture, live music and dance have relatively easy to come by mediums. With Film and audio anyone can get there stuff seen and or heard through some social network or youtube and the tools of the trades are easy to come by. For the game industry to survive and complete the transition to art the mediums of its expression must become commodity. The independent game designers must have some way of creating and presenting there work without being too in-cumbered by technicalities.

          On a side note, I think the lack of weighty material has more to do with a fear of not selling enough units than anything else. The game industry mimics the music and film industries when it comes to taking chances. Small players innovate and the big players only take chances on things when the idea has been a proven money maker.

          On another side note, the comic book industry faded mainly because other mediums of expression started attracting the interest of creators/artist that may have otherwise been working in comics. The people who have real love for comics are the people who still support that art form and create in that medium.... There is nothing wrong with that.
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