Friday, November 6, 2009

Video Games and Facing Controversy

The new lecture is live!


  1. This was a tough one, but as hard as the topic can be to handle, you guys managed it very well!

    Ping back from GameDesignVideos

  2. Woo thank you for finally churning this one out, it deals with a very controversial issue and is chock full of good ideas and points. Keep it up!

  3. I cant truly say nothing, coz war is unknown to me, what i can say about it, is that your lectures really made me think about videogames more "seriously", and not because i didnt take them seriously before, you just opened the picture for me, is greater than i had understanded.
    I salute you. Thanx and keep the great work.

  4. Good job as always, Daniel. Also, hey, you should get Twitter. We (as in the critical blogging community) have some pretty good discussions about stuff like this from time to time.

  5. Great video, although a sad topic really. The problem, as I see it, is that games became a business too soon, before they could expand their artistic borders.

    Businesses are, typically, highly risk adverse, and whilst I respect the necessity of that sometimes (I'm an Engineer myself), the current policy of remakes, endless sequels, and generally avoiding the dangers of new territory are going to keep us trapped in 'toy' forever.

    Every since developer and publisher would probably agree that games can, should and must expand their boundaries, but most of them want someone else to do it so they can follow in its awake with less of the conversy.

    About the only ray of long term hope for us is that anti-gaming nutters are typically older, and will eventually die out in the wake of increasing levels of gaming in the youth of the world. Even if Hillary Clinton, Jack Thompson, and there ilk where to pass anti-gaming measures, the eventual result would be those anarchic laws being removed when pro-gamers outnumber anti-gamers by a large margin.

  6. Also, forgot to add, the sadist part of Six days is that we, the customers and the people of the supposed 'Free world' didn't get a say in this and didn't get an opportunity to prove the game developers right by buying this game in support.

    As for rebranding, that might work, but even today, I refer to 'Graphic Novels' as comics - and with games, there just isn't a good replacement - "Stories" doesn't work cus not all games have stories or focus on the story - "Experiences" could apply to anything from life to movies to books to games - "Virtual worlds/environments" is accurate but abit of a mouth full; though I do notice some MMOG's are starting to use that term.

    Hmm, maybe just the term "Virtuals" would work, akin to "Moving Pictures" becoming "Movies"...? "Virties"? "V-worlds"? "VWs"?

  7. My Digital Cowboy buddy, Alex, suggested "Interactives." It's a mouthful, but it sort of works on some levels. It makes sense to name the medium after it's defining feature, just like film was ("movies", "talkies").

    Sooo .... "Inties?" Hmm.

    It's true that the business aspect of gaming has made the industry pretty risk-averse. But fortunately, we've got a rapidly-growing Indie scene now. They are were the big innovations and changes are going to come from. It's going to be exciting to watch.

  8. "Inties" does sound like a possible. And I heard the podcast Dan ;).

    As for the indie scene, there is a major Elephant in the room about that; because they don't get the same mass audiences a mainstream game would get, they don't really make inroads into [for example] the Fox 'news' audience to try and disarm them of there hositility to 'a kiddie game'. I mean, its a toehold, and over time that can be expanded, but when we're talking about fighting conversy, its hard to argue that indie games will push the envelop for the larger companies as "Not being noticed by the potential hositiles" is not the same as "Bringing the potential hositiles onboard and getting them to see its a good thing".

  9. I already thought that "Electronic Entertainment" was the rebrand title for games, ever since E3 came to be.

  10. Excellent video on this topic! I'm glad to know you've got a blog, I've been trying to find other gaming blogs to follow. Keep up the awesome work!

  11. Excellent video as always, but a thought has occurred to me that this video alone doesn't resolve.

    As TERRIBLE an analogy this is, I'm called back to the whole "Team Fortress 2 hats" "controversy," where people using Idlers to acquire the hats were caught and had their hats taken away. This caused a huge backlash and "controversy" among the punished. There were then many critics of the backlash who invariably said, "Dude, it's just a game. Chill out."

    When you talk about the mantra, "We're just making games," you're talking about it as a defense for EXTERNAL criticism. But "It's just a game" is used a lot WITHIN the gaming culture, not just outside it.

    There are probably plenty of developers who are happy with considering their work "games." Making games in the rule-setting sense is a challenge; it's a skill. The existence of quirky card and board games (anything made by Steve Jackson Games or Wizards of the Coast, for example) is proof of that.

    If you want to counter the prejudice against games as an art form, I think it might be important to understand that a lot of the stigmas you mention come from WITHIN the gaming culture as well as OUTSIDE it.

  12. One other thing that we as gamers might try to do in defending our medium is to refine our arguments for doing so.

    I'm reminded of the infamous Mass Effect interview on Fox, and one of the biggest problems there was that the gamer's arguments were very poor. "Have you actually played this" won't hold water in most people's minds (mine included), because there are a lot of things I judge as bad without trying them. Then the interviewee attempted to minimize the sexual content by promoting Mass Effect as a "great game." Unfortunately, this only makes it sounds like the gaming industry is apologizing for putting sexual content in the game. His next move, describing and trivializing the content itself, hurts the argument just as much.

    A much better technique in this case is to directly ask the question, "Why is this different from any other entertainment medium?" Most people aren't surprised at explicit sexual content in an R-rated movie, so why is a sex scene in an M-rated video game any different? Personally, I'm not interested in playing/watching/reading/listening to sexual material, but the rating on the game (just like ratings on movies) allows me to avoid it if I don't wish to see it - and indicates to parents that this material may not be appropriate for their children.

    There's as much sexual content in a lot of hour-long TV sitcoms as there is in this 50+ hour game - and there's not even a guarantee that you'll see it when you play through! As I understand it, the level of relationship that must be developed through dialogue and actions before the sexual encounter is triggered makes for a much better expression of the human condition that most sexually explicit movies. To say that no teenager is going to say no to the "do you want to have sex" dialog box is a gross and inaccurate abstraction of the issue at hand.

    Nice video, Daniel. Keep up the good work.

  13. Great stuff! Really thought provoking as usual. Keep up the good work.

  14. Sometimes I wish I had a console... sigh.

    Nonetheless, I agree that vidgames are an artform and stand to defend them in any way I can.

    And now, because I want to be quoted by the great Daniel Floyd, I shall initiate a random rant.

    One of the main reasons for the lack of respect video games receive is the fantastic. That is to say, most people "live in the real world." Therefore, anything not found in the real world is irrelevant and childish, if not outright primitive, and referred to as "fantasy."

    I have a few points to raise.

    Firstly, Video games are by their nature animated. Animation, in turn, is one of the easiest tools to use to make fantasy worlds, as live-action requires prosthetics and costumes and sets, oh my. However, while animation does lend itself to the fantastic, it is not identical to fantasy. There are plenty of live-action fantasies out there, and quite a few animated things are perfectly reasonable in the real world (with maybe one or two one-off gags). Therefore, lumping animation into fantasy is not automatically correct. Therefore not all video games are fantasy.

    Secondly, I'd like to address the concept that fantasy is irrelevant. No. It is not. It is an expression of the artist's imagination, and the collective soul of a group. J.R.R. Tolkien wrote fantasy, and it has become as widespread as WW2 books. Fantasy is not merely an escape, but an exploration. To denounce it is to denounce the essence of human creativity, and to say that the boundaries of the world as is are forever. Given our current technological level versus that of the past, such a statement is... bluntly, idiotic.

    Thirdly: Fantasy realism MUST BE IMPLEMENTED. That is to say, if a character shouts "GASP! A DRAGON!" and there are dragons over every hill, players may decide the game is not intellectually stimulating. If the character shouts "GASP! A DRAGON!" and dragons are indeed rare, or normally live in a foreign land, or the character is just that dumb, then the game remains cohesive. Conversely, if there is no reason for a character to shout "GASP! A DRAGON!" then he should not do so. Retaining the interest of a player means making sure the game is internally logical.

    So yeah, Games and Fantasy, there's a start if you want it. And by the way, here's a dragon, her name's Candi, and now she's your pet.
    Teller of Tales,
    Bard of Awesomeness

  15. @BJ about the Fox 'news' interview; the reason why they asked "have you even played the game" is because there where multiple outright lies or 'factual errors' in what the Fox "News" people stated. Including the comments about 'sodomizing who you want, when you want'.

  16. Actually, video game developers ARE toymakers, but I get what you're saying. We want to be taken seriously and we shouldn't back down from controversy, especially, when you believe in your side.

  17. Video games have the potential of becoming the next great medium ,but I think thats going to take time. Comics books didn't become respected as an art form until about the mid to late 70's and it wasn't simply a name change that made them as mainstream as they are. It was an evolution over time also grapic novel only really refers comic books that are novel sized.(sorry If I sound pretentious, I really dont mean it that way)

    all I'm really saying is that It may take a while but It'll happen.

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  19. Hehehe. That's a satisfying thought. When the close minded and ignorant fade away into dust, we as gamers shall consolidate our deserved place as an artistic medium.

    Also! Remember me Mr Floyd? It's Psymon from Screwattack!

  20. Mr. Floyd, I just wanted to repeat my comment for emphasis: Thank you. You bring an awareness to both myself and my friends of things we should be doing when we make our games.

  21. We did it man... we did it. 6 days in Fallujah is well on it's way to the shelves