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Posted on Friday, February 15 2008 @ 13:04:59 Eastern
A perusal of the GR blogs of late, and usually anywhere video game discourse occurs, will reveal a couple of issues rising to the top of the discourse. And these issues usually get a bad whiff, displayed by gamers pinching their noses at the stench and noisome odor associated with them. Two of these issues are hype and graphics. I will favorably broach these topics with brevity.
HYPE — This is a word formed from the word hyperbole, which is an exaggeration (literally, a "going beyond"), and primarily means "excessive advertising or publicity." Gamers usually feel ill of hype games, but why? I say, hype has its place, as hyperboles do in argumentation. Hyperbolic statements, effectively used in arguments, help drive home the point of arguments like Richard Petty or Jeff Gordon drives home the checkered flag. Ineffectively used, hyperboles drive arguments as well as a drunk Paris Hilton. This said, hype, itself, is not a bad thing. The use of hype is what is either good or bad. With so much fodder in the video game industry (and there truly is a wealth of crap video games, as GR's periodic worst games lists show), hype can even help a game stand out. The Sony PlayStation was one of the most popular video game consoles, and while it had a bevy of quality games, it had even more forgetful games. Without hype, how does the mute (the few good games) shout above the boastful (the wealth of crap games)? Else, he goes silent.
GRAPHICS — Did you know that when you say "video" you are saying "I see" in Latin? Except for the minor fact that the 'v' was pronounced as a 'w' in classic Latin. The English word video is derived from the Latin verb videre ("to see"). So I find it ironic when people denounce the focus on graphics in video games. Video games, inherently, are graphical entertainment. Games, at their base level, consist of a hoard of changing pixels. That is, games cannot be anything but graphical! Like hype, there's nothing bad about graphics themselves, but the effective use of them. People will say interactivity, the gameplay, takes precedence over graphics, and graphics shouldn't be focused on. Again: Graphics are tied to video games and affect how we perceive and interact with the game, how we play the game. If a game has more "believable" graphics, then immersion can be improved. If a game poorly renders a crucial part of the game, then immersion, interactivity, is lost. Do you think someone ever said to Michaelangelo, "Hey, Mike, why spending so much time accentuating David's penis? As long as people understand what it is, isn't that important?" Ballyhoo!
NO PAUSE? — Electronic Arts developers of Dead Space are considering eliminating the PAUSE feature. I say: Do it! Every medium of entertainment (books, music, movies) allow for pausing. Let's try a novel interactive feature and insert more gameplay into a game. If it doesn't work, oh well. But what if?
NEVER ANTI-SOCIAL — Video games have always been a social medium. From the early days where programmers would swap games on floppies to the advent of consoles that always included an option for 1+ players, the video game industry has always focused on socializing. And this socializing has reached new heights with MMO games and the Internet. What other medium can claim this ubiquity of socialization?