Conan, The 'B-List,' and the Gaming Industry

There's a fun article over at the Escapist talking about the B-list in games, film, and other entertainment (looking in particular at Conan, both the original pulp fiction incarnation and the 2007 game from Nihilistic); the author's contention is that game developers don't really 'get' the B-list, and why people turn to B entertainment for, well, entertainment. Of course, video games suffer from the odd conundrum of having too much money; most B entertainment manages decent returns on smaller budgets. But what about the pulp fiction/game divide?

Howard created a compelling character, decorated him with sex and violence, and threw him into the brambles of punishing adventure, all in order to tell us what he thought of our world. Games can do this, too. They have to do it to justify their cost. Conan the game puts the most technologically advanced form of leisure ever developed into the service of imaginary sword-fighting. Consider how far civilization had to advance to make this barbarism available to us. These are precisely the sort of issues Howard confronted. These conundrums are what Conan is about; they're what make Conan more interesting than any other pulp character. They're also what I'm paying for.

He's got a point, especially in regards to the fact that games could go deeper even with their 'B' material than they do currently. I love a good B-list flick and would cheerfully shell out for a gaming experience that parallels the fun of watching those films. I re-watched the epitome of B-list cinema in my personal collection (Le Pacte des loups) last night, and it's so deliciously bad yet wildly entertaining, how could you not have a good time? But there's more going on than just heaving cleavage, Louis Quinze excess, and anachronistic martial arts sequences, and that's one reason it's so enjoyable. Why can't our gaming B-list go a little deeper?

Conan's B-list Problem - And Ours [The Escapist]


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