I should be charging admission to my living room!
Posted on Wednesday, April 9 2008 @ 09:09:20 Eastern
What did movies start as?
Short, almost pointless means of entertainment that were being produced simply because the technology to do so had become readily available.
And what did video games start as?
Short, almost pointless, yada yada yada.
Yet, as anything that hopes to survive, movies evolved, and the video games? Yeah, they're doing their thing, checking out big brother and taking cues as to where to step and go.
Trembling as it went, films lengthened and expanded to focus on more than the perseverant yet pratfalling cowboys and eventually became Midnight Cowboys, just one work that tried to show more depth and sympathy towards characters and ideas, an example of art formed that, honestly just had to do with the fact I wrote the word cowboys right before it, yet it is still an example, although dated, of something even controversial in films being respected as art.
As the movies continued to be popular in the day of only movies, (books? What are those things?) those kids that saw the older movies, could make movies of their own, creating something new with the possibility of it being richer and deeper because there were methods used they could copy and modify, and ideas that they could partake of and add to. A kid that saw Taxi Driver in the seventies could go on to create Pulp Fiction in the 90's. (Well, that particular kid has seen probably more movies than any other kid, but he could still take the sense of lingering violence that was present in that particular movie.)
It's pretty easy to see why even film critics, people that judge the merits of films (for the purpose of bringing in or sending away potential spenders) would think that games are nowhere near art though. What are they for generally? To have fun with, most of the time they're not concerned with expanding minds or spreading any kind of new views or ideas. And seemingly incapable to look past that, many will say that games are masturbatory means of grandly living in the fantasies that plague humanity. This same thing can be said about many movies today that continue to rest upon the fact that people will probably be interested in seeing people shooting sh-t and getting hit, because it's safe for the viewers able to live in fantasy, and safe for the producers hoping to get back their money.
Not that there aren’t the games that just live out pointless fantasy, some of which that are directly involved with Hollywood, but, that’s just one aspect of what games can be.
The critical film critics don’t even seem to give a chance to a budding medium, even if they’re willing to give a chance to one that has already grown up, but an example of big brother protecting the younger gaming world (in a roundabout way) is the popular and talented filmmakers that are looking to the future and trying to think of ways of making their movies more interactive and inclusive.
Well, that’s kind of what games are, or can be if they just get time to grow before people are saying they stink, and they’re no good, and they’ll never be any good.
It’s not entirely impossible that games can basically be the movies that went before them though.
As an example of similarities, horror movies are in some cases indistinguishable to horror games, neither tend to get much respect as art anyway, both can thrill (even if they don't commonly), but in a thing like horror, being a part of the story is a big deal. Stephen King knew this and thus would spend time letting the audience get to know, maybe like, but more importantly, relate with the characters, at the least on a human level. But straight up and away, horror games are already on that plain, because it's the player playing the game, they don't need to relate with anyone else, they are the character that's in the peril of the seven fingered splotchy skin guy that walks with a limp and talks with a limp whose master plan is to give you damn nasty paper cuts. (I sure hope that idea gets made some time.)
In this particular kind of creative product, I can see how the game could effectively replace the movie in the nearish future. The same fears that guide the movies can help guide, and even be further utilized in frightening participants into hiding their shame as they do their laundry quickly.
But could it be possible for things outside of pleasure/pain level id kind of stuff?
Well, yeah probably..
As time goes and players get used to certain aspects of games, they demand that they be reworked and retooled and improved upon, making it more fun to play. The game play and graphics gets more complicated to compensate for the level of exposure gamers have had to it before. And the same could be said for everything else, people were exposed to lords and lads saving the world, but then they wanted something better. They wanted something like the Great Train Robbery came, something that takes all these ideas of filmmaking and shoved them into a narrative that’s not all that bad.
And now that there’s games like Bioshock (I get ten points for bringing the game up) that got all that press for having a detailed kind of in game existence, a kind of narrative that wasn’t reliant on its quickly shot through plot, but in things that are put in that make things more complicated for the player, whether it be morally, intellectually, or even just narrative wise. (Ken Levine even likes to play video games other than his own too, perhaps being influenced, shocking.)
Whether it deserved all that sycophantic praise doesn’t matter, but the fact that it did means that it’s either going to get ripped off a whole lot, or other developers are going to try and make even games as simplistic and generally stupid as First Person Shooters, and make them something more than that. And it has the potential to continue to the point, as films have, that they can be considered art when they‘re artistic, or just fluff when they’re flufftastic without having the whole medium shat upon.
Yet, even the games that get considered innovative now are mostly taking those seemingly novel ideas from other sources, but since you can also blow up heads at the same time as experience those ideas, they've created something entirely new. That could be considered bad, as if gamers aren't interested in thinking new thoughts, but in a way, it's also doing exactly what new artistic movies are doing to old, expanding upon the creative thoughts of those that have gone before.
Things grow and change as long as people are willing to let it. And so can it be as ideas and methods are built up and bettered brick by digital or metaphysical/metaphorical brick.
To think about it though, even the word I've been using throughout is something that expands the definition of that which we do, game. We’re gamers, players, people that practically fondle ourselves at the thought of gyrating joysticks. But really, that's what they are to the world. It's hardly ever considered by anyone as some title as interactive media, it's just a game, a playful pass time. We can’t quite be called an audience, rapt up in having the creators show us what they want to, but perhaps we’re simply experiencers (that’s not a word, don’t check) people that take what the creators show and put in our own selves in the mix. If people that experience interactive media want to change and evolve, or simply remain LuvesToMonkeyFiggle73, then games have to become something more to them rather than just lauding the eventual random game that has merit and then going back to racing go karts off the sand dunes of Wizzlebooza and exploding into the midgets that inhabit the land just to smile at it, we have to expect it more often and recognize the fact that the artistic games are more than the fluff of the others. (Since trying to make art all the time is polarizing and pointless, as it is with films.) Since even the gamers themselves call themselves as such, so shall they be perceived.
And really, what determines how something is viewed, be it good or bad?
And that changes each and every day as the world, including I and everyone reading this, continues to alter each definition of itself. After things like Columbine, anything that was perceived as violent and in the reach of youngsters (which is everything) was viewed by many as very bad and dangerous, whether it was in games, films, or music. (Even though it was a highly paranoid and unrealistic view.)
And after it was apparent that there was something more to the moving image fad, then it eventually became art.
Right now games are considered that practice in inane pointlessness that movies about bearded ladies riding on elephants once were. (Even though that is pretty fun in its own merits.) Perhaps, there can be something that changes the world to view itself as a place where games, or interactive media, are more than something innocuously or dangerously pointless.
And from there, we can always hope that maybe some day, even something as seemingly foolish as a game about pratfalling gold diggers can grow up and turn into pure artistic gold. For, who’s to say there can never be a Citizen Kane of games? (And I sincerely don’t mean a direct movie to game adaptation… although that would be interesting. You could kill zombies with your childhood sled!)