Thursday, February 28, 2008

Still filler...

So obviously, I continue to lie about my involvement with this blog. But work feels like work even when I'm not working. Yes this is a link blog item, but let me say I never expected to read something like this on a major gaming gossip site--a smart article about sexuality and juvenile sexuality in video games that doesn't spend all its time mired in preemptively defending itself from charges that it wants to take everyone's cheesecake frosting or equating boobs with adult material. It's one of the smartest thing ever on one of these sites really ever. Possibly the only flaw being that as the writer's expertise/interest seems to be Chinese cinema, all the examples come from there. Already one or two of the thicker set in the comments section think it's a comment on just one national culture, and not gaming culture generally.

Without delving into what the approach to narratives should be in video games, the sooner characterization in games matures past sexuality = thongs--though, first things first, we need to go by adult = sex--the sooner we can all collectively sneer off the folks who try to rationalize porn trading cards in Witcher as being character building.

It's interesting, I think, how the fact that this sort of discussion is so rare shows how much the study of video games is. It's still mostly concerned with defining what a "video game" is and the admittedly big task of figuring out the mix interactivity, game, and narrative . . . in essentially expanding the vocabulary of how you talk about games. It's so much in its infancy it hasn't even come up with pretentious term for itself yet, like "interactive novel" or vide0 games* or something.

More or less, there are a lot of John Woos, a few John Fords** out there in gaming, maybe even a Spielberg, but no Hitchcock. Which is me trying to say, conventions in games aren't common enough (mostly a strength of gaming actually, that they can be so varied) that the master manipulators work in genres of games instead of narrative genres) that we have designers playing with audience expectations just yet.*** That self-aware design cycle might've begun in adventure gaming (if adventure gaming was even half as healthy now as when Sierra was churning out franchises it might've even gone past jokes) but mostly, not enough examples of manipulating audience expectation. I don't actually like audience manipulation, it turns into cheap shocks usually, but when you're meta enough to start designing that way, that's when gaming will have really matured.

Chengora, I invite you to finish Bioshock and tell me if I'm wrong.

* You have to see the zero, and know that Art Spiegelman wants adult comics to be called comix, by the way, or it's not funny.
** Sid Meier/Miyamoto in Zelda mode
*** Penn and Teller don't count.

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