Games Are A "Backward-Looking Medium"

halopenciloped.jpg It's nothing that hasn't been noted in a million blog posts over the years, but in an op-ed piece in the New York Times, Daniel Radosh is saying it again. Too much emphasis on graphics, not enough emphasis on narrative - and sometimes those purty cut scenes can be a hindrance to a satisfying game experience (Radosh points to Halo 3 as an example, picking up on something our very own Crecente pointed out in his review of Halo 3).

Teenage boys (of all ages and genders) need not worry that mindless games will become obsolete. We will always love action movies, and Hollywood blockbusters will always be more popular than quiet, character-driven films. But gamers have a right to expect more than what the medium now has to offer.

Video games are still emerging from their infancy. The first 35 years of motion pictures, from 1895 to 1930, yielded a handful of films that are considered masterpieces for their technical innovations, but the following decade was when cinema first became the art form that we know today. As cinema matured, films developed the power to transform as well as to entertain. Video games are poised to enter a similar golden age. But the first step isn't Halo 3.

I think Radosh makes some good points, and there's little doubt in my mind that narrative design in games needs some serious tweaking. But the point about gaming really being in its infancy - especially compared to film, the medium most frequently held up in compare-and-contrast discussions - is one that bears repeating. Discussions from the '20s and '30s in regards to the art of film making frequently resemble the same things we yammer on about in regards to gaming - and there's hope yet. Just maybe not in the form of Halo.

The Play's The Thing [NYT via GrandTextAuto, photo credit NYT/Ulises Farinas]


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