Where should gaming go from now?

I just finished reading an article by “Reverend Anthony” called Fun isn’t enough: why video games have to move beyond simple escapism and I decided to post my comments about it.

Generally speaking I agree with most things said in the article, games are a very powerful medium and very few people are taking advantage of that. To put it simply, interactivity takes conveying emotions to the next level. Even though you may have no real control over what happens in a game, interactivity makes you feel like you do, which in turn makes creates a feeling of responsible for your character’s actions. If I had to pick the most important moment in my gaming experience, [technically, this is a Final Fantasy VII spoiler, but I’m not even going to hide it just because by now everyone probably knows this already] I would pick the moment when Aeris dies in Final Fantasy VII. I was quite young when I played Final Fantasy VII and I hadn’t played many serious games before that, but the when Aeris died I realized how powerful games could be.

Anyway, going back to the article, there are a couple of things I don’t agree with. Firstly, while I do agree that there needs to be a greater focus on serious games, I also think that the games that are “just fun” are also a very important part of gaming. Games like Guitar Hero or Dance, Dance Revolution are proof of this. These games are certainly not very deep, but they’re still great games. And what makes them great is precisely that they are simple games which are just incredibly fun to play. I think these type of games are a completely valid form of art and should continue to be developed. The other point I don’t agree with is that games should become “morally challenging tragedies” (maybe I’m exaggerating a little, but you get what I mean πŸ˜› ). I agree with the fact that there should be more games that explore the world’s shades of grey, but the focus should not only be in the darker shades of grey, the lighter shades also have a lot to offer and therefore they should also play an important role. Instead, I think that the focus of the gaming industry in the near future should be to interact with the player in more meaningful ways.

Two examples of what I mean by this are Shadow of the Colossus and Eternal Darkness.. Shadow of the Colossus puts the player in a situation where he regrets some of his actions. And even though the player is aware that he has no choice but to kill the Colossus if he wants to keep playing the game, he still feels guilty after killing a Colossus which did nothing that might justify its killing. In the case of Eternal Darkness, the interaction with the player is made deeper with the use of sanity effects. What you do in the game doesn’t only affect your character, it also affects you. Some of the sanity effects can be quite hard on the player, for example Show Spoiler when you try to save your game and you get an error saying that the file has been corrupted and your progress has been lost, you'll probably believe for a few seconds until you realize the game is just playing tricks on you.

Games could certainly benefit from more complex story-lines, but I think it is much more important to first work on the way the interaction with the player works. After all, to get a feel of what more complex story-lines are about, game designers can always turn to other forms of art such as books or movies, but player interaction is pretty much unique to gaming.

One thought on “Where should gaming go from now?

  1. A very interesting topic, discussed in a lot of places. I remember that time when we briefly discussed if videogames were art or not. I ended up feeling that most people think some are art and some are not. Ocarina of Time maybe, could be considered art; some games like… hmm, Monkey Ball? heh. Are just for fun. I consider all of them as art (not that this changes the situation much), and most of them are fun.

    I agree, simple games like DDR and Guitar Hero give a sweet and casual essence to the gaming world, and can be very fun at times (I dedicate part of my time for DDR step building ;)). This part of gaming is great, and I believe that article gives games like those an unfair treatment.

    On the other side, games like Final Fantasy 7, or 6 even, show very interesting situations for the player. There is this moment in FF6 where you simply don’t know where to go next (whoever has played it will know :P). I still haven’t played Shadow of the Colossus but the idea seems very interesting, and it could get disturbing. I love those kind of feelings :P, but I guess some others don’t.

    Games have gotten a bit “light” over the years (now that I remember, they didn’t start that dark and gray either). Most people don’t appreciate the “shades of gray” in life, but that’s a matter of taste; however, lighter games sell better. Movies and other forms of media (books, even anime) portray these shades of gray, but it’s easy to notice that the lighter, typical movies always get the spotlight over the dark, insightful and generally more full of plot movies.

    I guess most of us can just wait and see, as long as the Video Game industry grows, it will start having enough money to fund a variety of projects. Let’s wait and see if our dream videogames come true. Let’s also see if I can finally get a Wii too. πŸ˜›

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