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Video Game Industry

Just read a an article on video game industry. The author believes the industry should move to a higher art form. In his words, “The time has come for video gaming to move beyond a simple diversion, and become something more. Escapism isn’t enough: it’s about time for video games to be disturbing, depressing, timely, political, thought-provoking, and, above all, meaningful.” Here’re some bits I like, follow with my views.

 

“Good vs evil” is boring. The world is in shades of grey, so why not make the player experience that same moral ambiguity in his gameplay? Why not move beyond simply making a game “fun” or “entertaining” and present real, moral dilemmas?

 

Games are great at simulating fantastically unreal things that you or I would never experience – why not simulate some things that we experience all the time? Why not view reality through the mirror of video gaming? It may not be fun, but such games would be at the very least interesting, and at the very most would affect the way you look at real life.

 

It’s easy to look at games as a medium of simple entertainment and nothing more. Technologically speaking, the medium has had little opportunity to stretch its legs as a legitimate art form. We’ve only had video games for the past thirty years, and only just recently have they become advanced enough (both in terms of atmosphere and user involvement) to serve a purpose other than being fun. After three continuous decades consisting almost solely of platform-hopping, bug-blasting entertainment, a majority of modern gamers have a hard time considering their virtual pastime anything other than a diversion from the stresses of modern reality.

 

But consider the attributes of video gaming, as a medium. Video games can use text in large quantities without receiving copious amounts of criticism. Video games can use lighting, cinematography, mise en scene. Video games can use music, and video, and illustration. And, most importantly, video games are interactive.  Video gaming, as a medium, is the single most inclusive art form ever created. Not only can it use the tools of filmmaking, illustration, literature, and music, but it actually forces the participant into the situation instead of allowing him to act as a passive bystander.

Some of his arguments on video games seem too strong to me (e.g. video games as the most inclusive art form and their potential power/influences), but I generally agree that this medium has much more potential and should be viewed as an alternatives to other media such as TV, book, or movie to fulfil different purposes. A lot of teachers use video games to supplement their teachings. Besides educational purposes, video games could potential be used in many experiential settings. Combining with other media (I’m thinking about virtual gaming), people could simulate job experiences (for career choice), adventures, travels, musical concerts, or other experiences.

 

I know a professor who wants to create simulations that could teach young children basic economic theory and moral/ethical issues. But at present the marginal costs needed to create a game that could achieve his purpose overweight the marginal benefits. As technology improves, the costs of creating games should reduce enough that a large varieties of games that serve different market segments are available. Perhaps creating video games would be as easy as making videos on YouTube (it’d probably more like creating software online). Video game is a medium I grow up with, and I look forward to see how the industry evolves.

 

 

 

 

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