The Facebook post announcing a new game jam to be hosted by the Phoenix chapter of the International Game Developers Association generated many more comments than items like it usually did. It was because the jam had a corporate sponsor.
Next up: just how funny can a mug be? Channel 5’s Dean Herbert has the story. Dean?
Sterling snorted reflexively and shifted to a certain even-handed bass register he used with small children and guests. “Ah. Games criticism. You’ve been reading again, have you?”
This is not to say that real human interactions are not ritualized to the point of mechanic in some ways, but that procedural rhetoric about human life nearly always makes a specific argument: life works this way, life works that way.
The problem with today’s big-budget video games is not that they aren’t Citizen Kane– it’s that they are too much like Citizen Kane.
What is the purpose of a game? For some it may be entertainment. For others, fun. Still others are looking for an experience unlike any other.
Every fancy new game has had its graphics, its “combat”, its whole engine built or re-built “from the ground up”.
One time I asked a software engineer a technical question about a GameCube project we had worked on together. He stopped what he was doing, looked at me blankly for a few seconds, and said, “You know, I’ve smoked so much dope between then and now, there’s no way I’d remember the answer to that.” He went on to be a lead programmer for one of video games’ biggest franchises.
Here it is, I think: the moment the world of video games definitively chunked up into discrete groups and congealed. The emulsifier we used to have, this kind of shared sense of exploring a new medium, simply isn’t working any more.
In many ways, it’s like naming a band: technically, you can do anything, but if your idea is at all clever, someone else has probably done it first. And really, the name shouldn’t be too clever, otherwise the joke gets in the way of what, ultimately, should be a desire to express the group’s ethos sincerely.