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November 15, 2012 8:48 AM   Subscribe

New Games Journalism luminary Tim Rogers lays it out, clear as day: "Pong was released in 1972 — that’s forty years ago. Forty years is a long time for something to exist without anyone else bothering to make anything better than it."
posted by griphus (81 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
Any Pinball Game Ever

Pinbot and I would like to have a word with you, young man.
posted by Malor at 8:50 AM on November 15, 2012 [6 favorites]


This guy is a "luminary"? I know I'm probably taking this "article" too seriously but... what a bunch of crap.
posted by papercake at 8:51 AM on November 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


1) Write An Blog Post with an inflammatory title
2) Casually mention that you made not ONE, but TWO games, and they're available to buy!
3) ???
4) Profit!
posted by slater at 8:53 AM on November 15, 2012 [8 favorites]


By the end, maybe you’ll see what I mean when I say that Pong is the purest video-television-contest in history.

"Purest" is not the same as "best". In fact, in every single creative medium that has ever existed ever, the greatest works are a result of impurity, of people taking things that haven't been part of that medium and shoving them in anyway, breaking the mold and forcing something more interesting to arise.

Of course, Rogers knows this, because Rogers isn't an idiot and because Rogers wrote this article to provoke readers into getting to the end and buying his new video game. As far as inquiries into the philosophical nature of "play" are concerned, I recommend Persuasive Gaming by Ian Bogost over anything. It is an astonishing and comprehensive look at the relationship between games and people.
posted by Rory Marinich at 8:54 AM on November 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


flagged as flamebait
posted by DU at 8:54 AM on November 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Forty years is a long time for something to exist without anyone else bothering to make anything better than it.

Wheels keep on turnin'...
posted by Smart Dalek at 8:56 AM on November 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Gosh, what about Snake.

It must be interesting, to let that little light of creativity inside of you die for the sake of more eyeballs.
posted by user92371 at 8:58 AM on November 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Pong isn't fun.

Wipe away the nostalgia and the novelty of what it was when it came out an go play it, important, interesting sure, not fun though.
posted by Cosine at 8:59 AM on November 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


Honestly, I'd recommend anything Ian Bogost has written over anything. I started Twisty Little Passages, which Nick Montfort wrote on his own, after reading Racing The Beam, on which they collaborated, and holy shit it is Bogost's contribution conspicuous in its absence.

Nick Montfort if you come in here and read this, I still think you have very interesting ideas!
posted by griphus at 8:59 AM on November 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


Well he's right about one thing: 1972 was 40 years ago.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:02 AM on November 15, 2012 [17 favorites]


Why is Pong better than Angry Birds? First, let me say that I find Angry Birds to be perhaps the best video game of this software generation. (Warning: previous sentence engineered for maximum controversy.)
Not only flamebait, but flamebait that thinks it's being clever by admitting it's flamebait. If this is what "New Games Journalism" is about I'll give it a pass, thanks.
posted by neckro23 at 9:02 AM on November 15, 2012


While I disagree that Pong is better than most of the games on that list, I'll just take his word that it's better than the game he's written.
posted by justkevin at 9:03 AM on November 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


I remember playing a C64 video game based on "Neuromancer", and one of the things you could interact with was a temple where they worshipped Pong as the ONE TRUE VIDEO GAME.
posted by rmd1023 at 9:04 AM on November 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


Bogost is also behind Cow Clicker. I reccomend his book "how to do things with videogames" for everyone
posted by hellojed at 9:04 AM on November 15, 2012


slater's right, this is just an ad. Not even the author believes what he's saying.
posted by echo target at 9:04 AM on November 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm sorry, but indie sensation Alone is better than Pong. Pong suffers from artificial and completely arbitrary game mechanics. It isn't even clear in pong why we should even care to score, or even play at all, except to fulfill the designers goals. Alone strips all that, it does not ask you to play, in fact it may be better not to play, since there is no way to win.

Look for Alone in the iOS app store this winter.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:05 AM on November 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


My first summer job was at a snack bar that had a pong game in the dining area. That horrible little blip-blip-blip noise it made used to drive me nuts all day. Turned me off video games for ever and ever.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 9:07 AM on November 15, 2012


I'm not sure there's anything to say for this other than "repeat slater's comment here."
posted by trackofalljades at 9:08 AM on November 15, 2012


they made Street Fighter II because Capcom wanted a game that had

1. characters bigger than any characters in any other arcade games
2. more buttons required than any other existing arcade games.
If that's true, that's really interesting, and I'm curious why Capcom wanted those two things.
posted by Metroid Baby at 9:17 AM on November 15, 2012


2845 words. That's the shortest Rogers screed I've ever not even bothered to read. Normally they weigh in at least 4 times that.
posted by yellowbinder at 9:20 AM on November 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Look for Alone in the iOS app store this winter.

I continue to host the Alone beta test on my own private server, if any of you are interested in knowing what real games look like.

If this is what "New Games Journalism" is about I'll give it a pass, thanks.

New Games Journalism is way cooler than this article (although sensationalism aside I do like this article!). Basically its idea is that if video games are an interactive medium, the only way to meaningfully understand them is through writing about our experiences interacting with them. My favorite piece that I point people to is Bow Nigger, though if you want something lighter SomethingAwful's A Week in the Life of The Sims is great and on the surrealer side of things The Terrible Secret of Animal Crossing is legendary. Legendary.
posted by Rory Marinich at 9:23 AM on November 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


Ten games better than Pong:

1. Tetris
2. Super Mario 64
3. Portal
4. Settlers of Catan
5. Shadow of the Colossus
6. Secret of Mana
7. Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
8. Katamari Damacy
9. QWOP
10. Minecraft
posted by oulipian at 9:24 AM on November 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


God, Tim Rogers is tiresome. So since this is now a thread about Bogost, could someone explain what exactly people are getting out of his work that's so revelatory? I haven't read all his output cover-to-cover, but I've read a good chunk of it and seen him speak a few times, and what I've seen looks like pretty second-rate literary theory dressed up in techie clothing and sold as if it were new. I get that online games discussions owe him a debt of gratitude for the well-targeted reductio ad absurdam of "gamification," and I find his antiquarian investment in the VCS cute too, but where are people finding the profundity?
posted by RogerB at 9:25 AM on November 15, 2012


Pepsi was released in 1893 - that's 119 years ago. One hundred nineteen years is a long time for something to exist without anyone else bothering to make anything better than it. Here are ten beverages that Pepsi is better than.

1. Coke Zero
2. Gatorade
3. Merlot
4. Any juice ever
5. Red Bull
6. Tang
7. Four Loko
8. Green tea
9. Skim milk
10. Bud Light

EIGHT MONTHS LATER: Instead of publishing this article, I decided to produce my own beverage. So that's what we did. It's in stores now. So please be checking it out. Thanks!
posted by cnelson at 9:28 AM on November 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


The presentation is frustrating, but the idea is brilliant. I have a hard time arguing with him that anyone has ever made a better game than Pong (Tetris or Space Invader... maybe). He is right that Pong is a gripping, intense game, and played with the right controller it triggers a very zen-like immersion and contentment.

That said, Pong and pure games of that type don't appeal to me very much. I like messy beasts of a game. The proverbial example I trot out is Ultima VII, which is 1) A mess tottering on the much purer underpinning of Ultima IV 2) Always pointing you off the right path, and if you do stray off it and don't keep meticulous notes, you can be lost for real-life weeks 3) About the nature of virtue and the corruption of moral systems 4) A ridiculous combat system whose biggest asset is that combat is over quickly 5) An attempt to simulate a living society.

A game like Pong (or Tetris or Space Invader) is a game that sets the player very rigorous constraints that can be grasped near instantly. You don't really need to know anything about computers to be able to play a game like that. And yes, I think Rogers is right that of that particular type of game, there is probably nothing to beat Pong.

However, for someone like me, who grew up playing videogames, I get the most enjoyment out of playing completely insane messy sprawling things. My personal hall of fame is dominated by that sort of game: Star Flight, Civilization (I and IV tie for best), Ultima VII, Dwarf Fortress, and Men of War, with only Doom, Super Smash Bros and Minecraft not fitting the mold. However, I have a hard time arguing that they are better than Pong (Tetris, Space Invader). Essentially, they start from completely different principles. One sets out to simulate a world (or at least a part of it) and the other starts by building a set of constraints. One is Go, the other is Gary Gygax and Arne Arneson's Dungeons & Dragons.

Go is a perfect, beautiful thing, while D&D is by the nature of its ambition a failure (which is why thousands were inspired by it to attempt to create their own, better version) but D&D and its descendants have given my life a lot more than Go, but I'll happily admit that Go is a better game, if not one that matters to me very much.
posted by Kattullus at 9:28 AM on November 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


they made Street Fighter II because Capcom wanted a game that had

1. characters bigger than any characters in any other arcade games
2. more buttons required than any other existing arcade games.

If that's true, that's really interesting, and I'm curious why Capcom wanted those two things.


They wanted big sprites because at the time that was a real challenge and a sign of a good game/developer, I have distinct memories of converstations with friends along the lines of:

"Did you see the sprite size in the new abc123 game!"
"I know! Can't believe they pulled that off!"
posted by Cosine at 9:29 AM on November 15, 2012


If that's true, that's really interesting, and I'm curious why Capcom wanted those two things.

The first part is was a dick-swinging contest, pure and simple. Sprite size was a huge deal in fighting games in the 90s, and that's why you'll see a lot of games with some pretty fancy scaling effects (which was a how to get around actually making big sprites.) The NeoGeo was particularly emblematic of this, and games on that platform had simultaneously the best- and worst-looking scaling effects.

The second part is a little more complicated and my take on it may just be interpreting apocryphal rumors BUT, Street Fighter (the first one) came in two versions (FYI, this part is not apocryphal.) The "deluxe" one had two pressure-sensitive pads for "kick" and "punch." The harder to hit the pads, the harder the punch/kick was. The regular version had six buttons because the each pad registered three different strengths. Back then, innovating in any way over the "joystick and one or two buttons" standard got greenlit. So, "let's have more buttons than anyone else" is simultaneously just a variant on the same mentality that led to "let's have TWO joysticks" or "let's make the joystick GLOW" or something along those lines, AND a way to have to very different control schemes run on the same board.
posted by griphus at 9:29 AM on November 15, 2012


So, if you boil off the sensationalism and digs at specific game design choices such as comeback mechanics, the essence would appear to be "minimalism is great, whilst complexity is rubbish". Which is certainly a valid viewpoint, even if I don't agree with it, but it's being presented rather disingenuously here.
posted by MUD at 9:32 AM on November 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Gosh, what about Snake.

Snayke.
posted by curious nu at 9:33 AM on November 15, 2012


griphus, I was just about to type exactly what you've said about the original's pressure sensitive buttons being transposed into the cheaper six-button setup. That part's certainly not apocryphal.
posted by phl at 9:33 AM on November 15, 2012


Ten games better than Pong:

1. Bulletball
2. Bulletball
3. Bulletball
4. Bulletball
5. Bulletball
6. Bulletball
7. Bulletball
8. Bulletball
9. Bulletball
10. Bulletball
posted by orme at 9:35 AM on November 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


Yeah the "apocryphal" part specifically was that I am assuming they came first and the button scheme later, which sort of runs contrary to what Rogers is saying in the article BUT Rogers is also taking the piss, so who knows.
posted by griphus at 9:35 AM on November 15, 2012


Apart from people who were kids when it first came out and had no choice and stoners, has anybody ever played Pong for longer than a few minutes?
posted by MartinWisse at 9:35 AM on November 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I continue to host the Alone beta test on my own private server, if any of you are interested in knowing what real games look like.

I'm pretty convince that Alone is the first video game that is truly art. I wonder if Ebert has seen it.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:36 AM on November 15, 2012


Madden is a slave to a real sport. Pong is a sport in itself. It’s abstract: it is its own sport. If they televised Pong matches, video game simulations of “Professional Pong” wouldn’t need better graphics or updated rosters every year. Pong is an abstract sport free of charisma. “Star” Pong players could possibly have personalities, though if you select them in the game, what would that do? No “star” Pong player could, say, hit the ball any harder or faster than another. In Pong, the playing field is perfectly equal. Pong is a brainsport of gentlepeople.

The guy is joking, guys, and what's more he's making me laugh.
posted by cincinnatus c at 9:36 AM on November 15, 2012


RogerB: Bogost's "literary" treatment of video games is interesting – I enjoyed his essay about the anti-consumerist underpinnings of Animal Crossing, which rewards trading and helping townsfolk more than it rewards sell-and-buy with shopkeeper Tom Nook – but his key insight for me was the notion of procedural rhetoric, in which an argument is constructed and thoughts revolve around a systemic process rather than something sensational/linguistic in nature.

When you understand that a game is fundamentally a system to be interacted with, then you see that games as an art form are different from film or comics or books or music in that the nature of your action is the fundamental issue, rather than a byproduct of the medium. It's also a useful concept for viewing other media with a critical lens: you start to think of how our relationship with any particular medium is formed, and how altering that relationship (watching a movie on DVD versus in theaters) changes the system you're participating in and therefore changes the end product itself. It's at once a fascinating abstract theory and a practical way of understanding the mechanics of art.

Bogost's new book, Alien Phenomenology, abstracts the idea further and takes it away from video games (to the best of my knowledge; I haven't read it yet), but his idea originated in video games and provides one of the most useful critical lenses by which we can talk about the differences between radically different games in a productive manner. It's a simple idea, but a profound one, and Bogost does an excellent job of investigating how games' procedural rhetoric affects their players, both in affecting their mindset and in sometimes undermining their own ambitions by creating faulty, imperfect systems.
posted by Rory Marinich at 9:37 AM on November 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


MartinWisse, didn't Robert Downey Jr. play an awful lot of it in Zodiac?
posted by phl at 9:38 AM on November 15, 2012


So since this is now a thread about Bogost, could someone explain what exactly people are getting out of his work that's so revelatory?

Bogost is important because, even if some parts of his work can be perhaps accurately described as "second-rate literary theory dressed up in techie clothing" as you say, he is fathoms more thoughtful, meticulous, readable, experienced and insightful than most other academics writing about games.

His work is particularly valuable because he writes from the perspective of someone who not only plays a tons of games in all genres, but makes games.

Also he is one of the funniest people on Twitter.
posted by oulipian at 9:39 AM on November 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Proves my case, doesn't it?
posted by MartinWisse at 9:39 AM on November 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, Bogost is definitely a case of "love the one you're with." No one else is really doing what he is -- splitting the difference between "pop" writing about videogames and dry academic takes on videogames -- or at at least not as publicly.
posted by griphus at 9:42 AM on November 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Jane McGonigal tries, to be fair, but McGonigal's academic work is great, while her "pop" writing smacks blatantly of "speaking down to the lessers who don't haven't earned their doctorate in vidyagames".
posted by Rory Marinich at 9:44 AM on November 15, 2012


Erm, what I meant to say was "No one else is really doing what he is as well as he is..."
posted by griphus at 9:45 AM on November 15, 2012


Rather than give myself a third massive headache today

...the first two being caused by his website design. Yeesh.
posted by backseatpilot at 9:49 AM on November 15, 2012



Also re: NGJ: well, there's Telebunny (previously gamespite, previouslier toastyfrog) which hits those notes. I haven't kept up much in the last year but every now and then I poke my head in and there's usually something worth reading, and usually in a nice digestable size to boot.
posted by curious nu at 9:53 AM on November 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


You guys know that Tim Rogers isn't serious right? He clearly doesn't think pong is better than any of those games.
posted by empath at 9:55 AM on November 15, 2012


I continue to host the Alone beta test on my own private server, if any of you are interested in knowing what real games look like.

Is anything supposed to happen when I press the keys? I tried it in both Chrome and IE 9, and aside from there being a bar in the center of the screen instead of a pixel, there was no difference (i.e., on both, nothing whatsoever seemed to happen when I pressed the controls).
posted by adamdschneider at 9:56 AM on November 15, 2012


Gamespite isn't Gamespite anymore? Are they still releasing those quarterlies?
posted by griphus at 9:58 AM on November 15, 2012


Yes, yes, Pong is a very fine... GET IM BOYS

*straps Tim Rogers to dentist's chair, fixing eyes open a la Clockwork Orange; forces him to experience 12 hours of Super Hexagon*
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:00 AM on November 15, 2012


Alone is like Progress Quest. (a joke)
posted by onya at 10:04 AM on November 15, 2012


(a joke)

Inside every joke is a truth that is too painful to be contemplated head on.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:12 AM on November 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Okay, who instinctively read that in a Werner Herzog voice?
posted by griphus at 10:14 AM on November 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


Wasn't Pong just a ripoff of the Magnavox Odyssey ping-pong game? I think Magnavox even won that case in court.
posted by yoink at 10:18 AM on November 15, 2012


Eisenfunk
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 10:18 AM on November 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


forces him to experience 12 hours of Super Hexagon*

SUPER HEXAGON IS THE NEW SUBJECT OF THIS THREAD

...okay, so, why can I not stop playing this game? It's not fun--at all--it feels more like an exceptionally cruel psychology experiment. And yet every time I lose I push the screen to restart before I know what I'm doing. If someone stole my iPhone and deleted the game off of it I would be more relieved than mad, but nonetheless the next time I have three minutes kill I know I'm going to boot it up again. WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME
posted by IjonTichy at 10:18 AM on November 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Eventually, there was Soul Calibur, with fluid animations and ornately ornamented characters.

Really?
posted by mobunited at 10:19 AM on November 15, 2012


Wasn't Pong just a ripoff of the Magnavox Odyssey ping-pong game? I think Magnavox even won that case in court.

Yep, they settled out of court after they found Bushnell's name on a sign-in sheet for a tech demo of the Odyssey. But Pong was just one of the first instances of the "Company X invents thing, thing is unpopular, Company Y improves incrementally on thing, thing becomes incredibly popular" that basically defined early video games history.
posted by griphus at 10:23 AM on November 15, 2012


Alone is like Progress Quest. (a joke)

Ah. Everyone else in this thread is in on it, too!
posted by adamdschneider at 10:30 AM on November 15, 2012


Tim Rogers was once fascinated by my business card design. It was a surreal conversation.

The last time I saw him was at the last GDC, showing off his last iPhone game at a party. Notch was also there in his own little roped-off corner. Completely surreal.
posted by hellojed at 10:36 AM on November 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


I love how Pong is better than Starcraft simply because he can't understand what is happening when watching two pro Starcraft players play a game. Even though he never bothered to learn any details of the game or how it is played. Kind of like, for instance, chess. Which is another game Pong is purer than.
posted by lubujackson at 11:06 AM on November 15, 2012


Do y'all ever get tired of taking everything so seriously?
[...] he can't understand what is happening when watching two pro Starcraft players play a game.
That's not even close to what he said.
posted by cdward at 11:12 AM on November 15, 2012


Chess and Go don't count because the author is arguing (perhaps facetiously) that no one has made a better game in the forty years since Pong was released, not that Pong is the pinnacle of all games ever.
posted by oulipian at 11:17 AM on November 15, 2012


The typography on Alone is pants.
posted by Mister_A at 11:19 AM on November 15, 2012


Comic Pants.
posted by Kattullus at 11:21 AM on November 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Exactly.
posted by Mister_A at 11:29 AM on November 15, 2012


I'm 42 and no one's made anything better than me in that time, so...IN YER FACE, PONG.
posted by spicynuts at 11:56 AM on November 15, 2012


Oulipian: Chess and Go don't count because the author is arguing (perhaps facetiously) that no one has made a better game in the forty years since Pong was released, not that Pong is the pinnacle of all games ever.

Well, I think that in the lineage of games like Chess and Go, Pong is the best that the computer era has produced. I'm actually thinking that in my first comment my inclusion of Space Invaders and Tetris shows that I misunderstood Rogers' argument. Unlike Chess, Go and Pong, Tetris and Space Invaders are single player games (on the other hand, I think that his inclusion of Farmville, Angry Birds and Pinball makes me wonder if perhaps I'm still misunderstanding his argument, but I like my understanding).

There are some fantastic solitaires out there, but they are fundamentally different from an two-player game like Go. Pong is a simple, instantly graspable two player game requiring surprising amounts of skill. That said, I'm pretty sure that Go will out-last Pong, and I doubt that a game of Pong requires the kind of brainpower a game of Go requires, but as far as the two player abstract game genre is concerned, Pong might just be the best example the computer age has given us.

I'm not knocking other two-player games (I had some intense duels in Doom and Quake in my teenage years) but I can't think of another game of its kind that's better than Pong. The only contender I can think of is the artillery game, probably best known in the guise of Worms, though I prefer the simpler games with only one type of projectile.
posted by Kattullus at 11:56 AM on November 15, 2012


This is the ultimate evolution of pong. I'm not exaggerating when I say that playing this game with my coworkers has been one of the most fun gaming experiences of my life. And it's fantastic to spectate, too!
posted by archagon at 12:14 PM on November 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Jan Willem Nijman's Tennnes [idlethumbs twitch.tv link] is a pong that's better than Pong.
posted by straight at 1:04 PM on November 15, 2012


That looks like an awesome game, straight, but it's Pong is a lot more abstracted, which is sort of my point. Tennnes is to Pong what Blood Bowl is to Chess.

I <3 Blood Bowl and Chess, incidentally.
posted by Kattullus at 2:15 PM on November 15, 2012


"Pong was released in 1972 — that’s forty years ago. Forty years is a long time for something to exist without anyone else bothering to make anything better than it."

Clearly, he has not played Breakout.
posted by markkraft at 2:51 PM on November 15, 2012


(I've got to admit though... a four player game of Warlords was pretty damn awesome. They need more console games that are actually geared towards multiple players.

Single player console games usually just make me wish I was playing a game on my PC.
posted by markkraft at 2:56 PM on November 15, 2012


Warlords and Breakout were the two games I thought of in terms of some sort of (vastly) incremental improvement in Pong-style gameplay, but really, if "better than Farmville" isn't balls-out trolling, I don't know what is.

His "pure" spearman can meet my tank in a game of Civ sometime.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 3:30 PM on November 15, 2012


Durn Bronzefist: Warlords and Breakout were the two games I thought of in terms of some sort of (vastly) incremental improvement in Pong-style gameplay

Neither are very good two player games, though.
posted by Kattullus at 3:56 PM on November 15, 2012


Action Connect four sounds super fun! Also, a way to lose a friend.
posted by hot_monster at 4:08 PM on November 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Bogost is also behind Cow Clicker.

I thought Cow Clicker was notably absent from the games Pong is better than.
posted by chapps at 5:06 PM on November 15, 2012


I just read Tim Rogers articles for the comment threads.
posted by 23 at 5:11 PM on November 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was around 14 when Pong came out. It was revolutionary. A game you could play on your tv!!!!! My dad, being the early adapter he is when it comes to technology, got us one.


It might be simple and it might be stupid but it was the First. It was a Big Deal.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:17 PM on November 15, 2012


People who don't even play Starcraft II will watch videos of tournaments, fascinated by the tactics and commentary, even when they have no clue what is going on. Can't say the same for pong.
posted by gregor-e at 6:59 PM on November 15, 2012


7. Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

Now that's more like it!
posted by I-Write-Essays at 5:15 PM on November 16, 2012


You guys know that Tim Rogers isn't serious right?

He's seriously plugging his game in that article.
posted by ostranenie at 5:22 PM on November 17, 2012


"We are very proud to announce that MoMA has acquired a selection of 14 video games, the seedbed for an initial wish list of about 40 to be acquired in the near future, as well as for a new category of artworks in MoMA’s collection that we hope will grow in the future."

The fourteen games are: Pac-Man, Tetris, Another World, Myst, SimCity 2000, vib-ribbon, The Sims, Katamari Damacy, EVE Online, Dwarf Fortress, Portal, flOw, Passage and Canabalt.

I find this bit from the announcement interesting: "Are video games art? They sure are, but they are also design, and a design approach is what we chose for this new foray into this universe. The games are selected as outstanding examples of interaction design—a field that MoMA has already explored and collected extensively, and one of the most important and oft-discussed expressions of contemporary design creativity. Our criteria, therefore, emphasize not only the visual quality and aesthetic experience of each game, but also the many other aspects—from the elegance of the code to the design of the player’s behavior—that pertain to interaction design."

All of these games, with two notable exceptions, fit this criteria. The two exceptions, EVE Online and Dwarf Fortress, are big ol' messes. I would call them many things, art among them, but they don't strike me as particulary well designed. They have about as much to do with outstanding design as Anna Karenina has to do with a finely crafted sentence. Yeah, there quite a few great sentences in Anna Karenina, but that's not what that book is about at all.

The other games that MoMA indicates they want to add are very much on the well-designed end of the continuum, at least the ones I've played. I find it interesting that MoMA felt the need to include EVE and DF in their initial list.
posted by Kattullus at 6:44 PM on November 29, 2012


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