Skip

Tarkovsky-derived video game? Yup.
December 3, 2002 1:02 PM   Subscribe

Tarkovsky's Stalker coming as video game in 2003. I always wondered how long it would take for a more artistically-informed bunch to come to the $18B/year video game market (bigger than Hollywood). Will our generation have its video-game counterparts to Faulkner and Fitzgerald? A David Foster Wallace or Don Delillo authored game? Are there other video games that can stand up as "Art?"
posted by minnesotaj (65 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
The David Sedaris game should be coming out for Xmas 2004, I can't wait!
posted by Pollomacho at 1:05 PM on December 3, 2002


You're kidding, right? Or is it going to be delivered as an expansion pack for the Sims?
posted by minnesotaj at 1:07 PM on December 3, 2002


It's so artistic that it's site crashes my browsers, over and over.
posted by password at 1:09 PM on December 3, 2002


i can barely contain my excitement for the j.k. rowling games!

... oh wait.
posted by ronv at 1:19 PM on December 3, 2002


Mmm... Tarkovsky. Thank you for bringing this to my attention.

You really shouldn't ask what can "stand up as art", you're asking for trouble. I think every good computer game I've ever played stands up as art. Especially this one.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 1:22 PM on December 3, 2002


I think it's more likely that both this game and Tarkovsky's film are based on Roadside Picnic. The game looks pretty standard and military as opposed to the slow quiet weirdness of the film.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 1:23 PM on December 3, 2002


anyone remember EVE, put together under the supervision of Peter Gabriel?
What it lacked in action it more than certainly found itself full of in creative inspiration. No reason the world of video games can't find inspiration and new twists from places like documentary filmmaking...

Now what I wouldn't mind seeing would be a form of Half-Life as storyboarded by someone like Chuck Palahniuk.
posted by salsamander at 1:24 PM on December 3, 2002


How about Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash?
posted by vito90 at 1:25 PM on December 3, 2002


I was offended at the idea of Cameron and Soderbergh remaking Solaris (yes, it was a novel first, but the Hollywood pair were more mindful of Tarkovsky's work). I believe Cameron was quoted as saying that they were going to give Solaris more "zip" (or something ridiculous like that). Thankfully, Soderbergh's pacing was more Tarkovskyian than Cameronesque. And now a video game!?

Are there other video games that can stand up as "Art?"

Tarkovsky: "The tragic and crucial difference is that if art can stimulate emotions and ideas, mass-appeal cinema, because of its easy, irresistible effect, extinguishes all traces of thought and feeling irrevocably. People cease to feel any need for the beautiful or the spiritual, and consume films like bottles of Coca-Cola."

"The artist's inspiration comes into being somewhere in the deepest recesses of his 'I'. It cannot be dictated by external, 'business' considerations. It is bound to be related to his psyche and his conscience; it springs from the totality of his world-view. If it is anything less, then it is doomed from the outset to be artistically void and sterile."
posted by jacknose at 1:25 PM on December 3, 2002


Yeah, but can you name that beard?
posted by Pretty_Generic at 1:48 PM on December 3, 2002


PST: Yes, the movie was based on that book, but Tarkovsky was impatient with the sf elements and got rid of as many as he could. (He was pretty cavalier with source material in general, but that's fine with me -- a great artist can do whatever he pleases.)
posted by languagehat at 1:55 PM on December 3, 2002


Are there other video games that can stand up as "Art?"

The game Ico for PS2 comes up a lot as an "art" video game. Like many art films, it made many critics best of the year lists but failed to sell well. Never before in a game have I seen such a strong sense of mood in a game, a feeling of loneliness that fills the game. Very sparse in text and dialogue, in fact the game reminded me of Tarkovsky at first.

I doubt the future lies in something like a DFW authored video games. The best novels and novelists often don't make the best movies. There is a whole set of things like gameplay and interactivity that make or break video games that don't exist in literature. Little things like being able to distract guards and manipulate lockers in Metal Gear, or cutting a signpost in n64 Zelda and watching it float in a pond.

Oh, and I downloaded a movie of S.T.A.L.K.E.R, incredible graphics, the sky and forests are almost photo realistic.
posted by bobo123 at 1:56 PM on December 3, 2002


I've been an avid reader of the horror genre for too many years to remember. Clive Barker's Undying brought that genre to the game venue in gloriously wicked spades. Though it weakens into video game normalcy near the end, it's still the creepiest damn game I've ever encountered. Barker's input is obvious from the very beginning, and ... well, just check it out. You'll know what I mean.
posted by Wulfgar! at 1:58 PM on December 3, 2002


Are there other video games that can stand up as "Art?"

All video games are art.

Most are just bad art.
posted by majcher at 2:14 PM on December 3, 2002


Are there other video games that can stand up as "Art?"

System Shock 2 comes immediately to mind. Probably the scariest game I've ever played. In terms of pure visual effect, Unreal Tournament 2003 is a work of art.
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 2:17 PM on December 3, 2002


Jacknose - Yeah, that's a great Tarkovsky remark. The video game actually seems closer to the Strugatsky's book than to the film. As for it's militaristic aspects -- It's not clear to me that the game developers have finalised the storyline. One cool thing about the game is that they've essentially created a free-roaming Zone.

Back to the whole 'Art' question, though -- preceded by some background. I just finished my first book (8 years from start to published!) & also a major software release at my day job && was looking for a way to decompress, so I bought my first console (a PS2) and a couple of games. What struck me about them was that, even though they were quite visceral -- and frequently visually stunning -- 20 pages or so of any decent literary novel moved me more; filled me more with a greater sense of wonder/marvel at life.

So I started to ask: Can video games ever achieve this in the way that great novels and films can? Will there be cross-over talent from Hollywood or the literary world?
posted by minnesotaj at 2:24 PM on December 3, 2002


A David Foster Wallace video game? I vote for Infinite Jest. It could be a stealth-style game where you sneak around a tennis academy, avoiding your friends, in order to find a nice, quite spot to smoke pot.

I'd play that...
posted by SweetJesus at 2:34 PM on December 3, 2002


Well, there is the intricately described diplomacy-and-war game in Infinite Jest. Maybe someone else remembers what is was called ... something about people standing around on a tennis court pretending they're nuclear-armed countries, lobbing balls-cum-missiles at each other. Not sure a video-game version would qualify as novel-based, though ...
posted by risenc at 2:43 PM on December 3, 2002


I'd vote for Ico too. A world unlike any other so far
posted by terrymiles at 2:46 PM on December 3, 2002


Other video games that qualify as art? Absolutely!

Most of the ones I can think of were CD-ROM based games (remember those, way back in the 1990s?). The Residents' Games like "Bad Day on the Midway" and "Freak Show" I think qualify. "The Dark Eye," based on the stories of Edgar Allen Poe, is a great one. Hell, I think Myst qualifies, especially considering how it plays with themes of intertextuality, even though it's one of the highest-selling games ever.

But I agree with majcher; they're all art, in that they entail certain creative and interpretive work and vision to produce. Most are just shite.
posted by billpena at 2:46 PM on December 3, 2002


Since 90% of the work on a game anymore is story, textures, sounds and scripting, I'd say it's closer to artistic than technical production. There's probably a bigger percentage of moneys going into artsy parts of a game than in today's movies.

Entertainers filter through and sucks ideas from the incredibly vast array of literature out there and boil it down into mass-media productions for the rest of us. Movies and games are like the mefi/fark/slashdot/etc of the creative world.

Books -> Movies
Movies -> Games
Games -> Movies
why not Books -> Games? it'll happen.
posted by askheaves at 3:14 PM on December 3, 2002


Games as art? Then most certainly REZ.
posted by PsychoKick at 3:28 PM on December 3, 2002


Ugh, game designers aiming for high art end up making sometimes interesting but ultimately bad stuff, case in point being anything recent by Peter Molyneaux.

An interesting on point quote from Warren Spector (creator of several groundbreaking games):
Joystick101.org: Do you see game design as an art form? In the future, do you see people analyzing games as an art as we do painting, books and film?

WS: I think games are as much an art form as any other popular medium. But, as I said a minute ago, we're just emerging from infancy. We're still making (and remaking!) The Great Train Robbery or Birth of a Nation or, to be really generous, maybe we're at the beginning of what might be called our talkies period. But as Al Jolson said in The Jazz Singer, "You ain't heard nothing yet!" So many people in the industry and so many outside observers lament the fact that we're not taken seriously or that we don't have any serious game criticism or any outlets for such criticism. Well, come on, give us time! What kind of film criticism was there 80 years ago? I mean, other than Hugo Munsterberg, Vachel Lindsay, Harry Potamkin, Sergei Eisenstein and a handful of others, who was there writing seriously about film as late as the 1920s and 30s? Gaming is only 20 years old. The movies turned 20 in 1915 (roughly). No one was writing about film then. By 1935, you had a handful of serious film critics and thirty years after that you couldn't throw a rock without hitting a serious film scholar. Give us that kind of time and I absolutely guarantee we'll have our serious critics, our scholarly journals and our serious artists.


I'm wary of saying what games are "art", because I'm afraid it would devolve into a discussion of what art is... does it have to be emotionally powerful? thought provoking? or just good? The problem is that the real art in games is good game design, which is something most non-gamers don't even understand. They come looking for story or attractive art. Did the person(s) who designed chess make a work of art?

It takes time to understand the attraction of gameplay itself -- a game like nethack, for example. I could rattle off dozens of games that meet my criteria: Fallout, GTA3, Planescape, Star Control 2, Pirates, NOLF, System Shock 2, Civilization, etc.

On the other hand, Myst, for example, mentioned above as art, which I would argue is one of the *worst* best selling games ever, barely a game at all really.

I guess that's why "but is it art?" has always seemed like an annoying question to me, but here I am trying to answer it.
posted by malphigian at 3:35 PM on December 3, 2002


Excession would make a killer game.
posted by signal at 3:45 PM on December 3, 2002


If one cares to look at a game designer as author, then I suggest a review of the works of Roberta Williams. Phantasmagoria still stands alone as the perfect marraige of story, movie, and interactivity.
posted by Wulfgar! at 4:02 PM on December 3, 2002


Books-->Games has been done quite a few times. One that comes to mind is Anne McAffrey's (sp?) Freedom. Not a very good game though.
posted by dazed_one at 4:10 PM on December 3, 2002


wulgar!: i'm like roberta williams' other work, but i think phantasmagoria is crap. so much so that i never bothered to have a look at its sequel. imo it's one of the worst casualties of the fmv-for-the-sake-of-fmv syndrome that afflicted the genre. bad acting and gameplay as linear as one of those hentai interactive stories ick double ick. Care to share why you like it?
posted by juv3nal at 4:34 PM on December 3, 2002


It's going to take a few more years, but with the proliferation of amateur Flash Art and a few fantastic interactive art exhibits at your local Modern Art museum, video games evolving into the next great artform (after movies) is inevitable.

Compare how complex a fundamentally simple game like Mario has gotten over the last 20 years. I attempted to play the latest game Mario Sunshine recently and I would be damned if I knew what was going on or what all those buttons on my gamepad did, much less the combinations available to me. And to think this is still the early era of video gaming! The evolution of interactivity will fork soon, with large-scale movie budgets like many video games today (see Final Fantasy series)... and amateur artists working with more and more powerful tools at their disposal like Flash and the myriad of 3d Modeling software.

So, you'll have Hollywood vs. the Independent artists, except the playing field's going to be a bit more level.
posted by Stan Chin at 4:48 PM on December 3, 2002


Entertainers filter through and sucks ideas from the incredibly vast array of literature out there and boil it down into mass-media productions for the rest of us. Movies and games are like the mefi/fark/slashdot/etc of the creative world.

That, after the NYT front page, is the second most depressing thing I've read all day.
posted by muckster at 5:04 PM on December 3, 2002


Tarkovsky's Stalker is certainly one of the slowest-paced films I've watched, virtually nothing happens for most of it, it drags painfully on and on and on, and the ending is a terrible mess... yet it kept me thinking for a long time afterwards and so much of it stubbornly sticks in my mind (the weird music, desolate scenery, the dog), I can't help but like it.

Astonishingly, Tarkovsky spent a year making the film, only to be told the film company wouldn't develop the experimental stock he'd used. So he had to scrape together more money and film it all over again with a smaller budget, how he retained any sanity is beyond me.

Solaris and Andrei Rublev are similarly flawed yet wonderfully beautiful films.

Oh, and the game just looks like a fairly standard first-person shooter loosely inspired by the film/book, I didn't see either mentioned on the site.
posted by malevolent at 5:07 PM on December 3, 2002


I wrote this essay on hypertext and interactive fiction years ago, but the central concerns still stand, and some of the things I said about games vs. art matter to this discussion: why would I want to interact with a story? Wouldn't I rather just have it told to me in the most interesting way?

That said, I think that adventure games can be as good as any genre fiction (I'm thinking of infocom and the better Lucasarts games). Literature, I'm not sure--usually the text is so tightly controlled by the author that crafting it as interactive story would be mindbogglingly difficult. Perhaps some freeform approach could yield interesting results, but I haven't seen it yet. Ample room for experimentation.

When you say "art," which art are you talking about? Games contain elements of drawing, painting, fiction, sculpture, acting, filmmaking in general, etc etc. I think "Myst" is successful because of the design, art direction, mood, sound, gameplay-- but the story is cardboard. I can see "arty" games work better if they try to be closer to video installations rather than fiction. The Residents games are fascinating but I remember nothing of the plot.

Intention also matters a great deal: in most games the focus in on fighting/collecting/racing, and those just aren't activities that'll open up new insights. Most games are happy to "merely" dazzle and entertain, and that's why they're still closer to the multiplex than the MoMA.
posted by muckster at 5:18 PM on December 3, 2002


I think Gravity's Rainbow would make a terrif game! Imagine: wandering around the Zone in your Raketemensch getup, evading the depredations of the Schwarzkommando, partying hearty on the Ship of Fools, trying to solve the mystery of Imipolex G...all while a popup window charts central London V-2 impacts! In Bananavision™.

Better still! Any Martin Amis novel of the mid-90s: you're a drunken failure of a writer, on the cusp of a divorce, and your best college friend/worst enemy's shite roman a clef is rising up the charts. Meanwhile, your body's in open rebellion against you.

Can You...screw your mortal enemy's wife?
Can You...keep your liver from exploding?
Can You...shepherd your embarrassingly minor work into print?
Can You...thread your way through this maze while avoiding Evil Keith - the bouncing, leering, Cockney Terminator ("Intruder alert, innit?")
posted by adamgreenfield at 5:23 PM on December 3, 2002


Muckster said: why would I want to interact with a story? Wouldn't I rather just have it told to me in the most interesting way?

I think you're asking the wrong questions (altho it applies to "interactive fiction" certainly, I don't agree that it carries over to real games). Storytelling is not the point of games, the interaction is the point. Some of the best games don't even have a story. The good ones that do have a story have one that is either deeply nonlinear and truly reacts to player choices (eg. Fallout), or the story is taking a backseat to the gameplay (eg. any of the better FPSs).

I'm still annoyed by Myst's inclusion in this conversation, and don't understand why it keeps coming up, it was a half-game that only appeals to people who don't actually like games.
posted by malphigian at 5:40 PM on December 3, 2002


I'm still annoyed by Myst's inclusion in this conversation, and don't understand why it keeps coming up, it was a half-game that only appeals to people who don't actually like games.

Hello. I quite enjoyed Myst at the time. It had some good puzzles, and a nice laid back pace. The sequel was even better.

My name's Phil, and I write games for a living.

and I've probably played more games in the last month, than you have in the last year ;)
posted by inpHilltr8r at 6:22 PM on December 3, 2002


How can you say that, malphigian? How you define "game" may not be - almost certainly is not, from the sounds of things - isomorphic with the definitions employed by many of those who enjoyed Myst.

In what way do you define "game" such as that Myst is partially outside the set?
posted by adamgreenfield at 6:24 PM on December 3, 2002


I make game for living and I cringe whenever I hear another egomaniac writer, director, actor that has never played games announce he's going to show me and all my socially retarded colleagues how it should be done. But I have designed a deliberately arty game.

I hired Aidan Hughes and Roland and Paul Barker from Ministry to help us make a hyper-violent Doom-clone called "ZPC". Originally titled "ZPG" until Zero Population Growth threatened to sue (the premise being you kill everyone and everything to beat the game to be crowned the "War Messiah"). The teaser ads featured Jesus, Lenin, and Hitler as inspirations. The game was one big black joke in answer to the Lieberman hearings against video game violence at the time.

One morning I got a voicemail from an outraged Christian asking if this was "...some kinda angry Jesus game." We recorded the message and sampled it into the game's final soundtrack. Sigh, those we're the days...

Now we're becoming just another media outlet for juggernaut franchises like Harry Potter and Spiderman. Maybe these eggheads should come us how it's done after all.
posted by Zombie at 6:46 PM on December 3, 2002


Storytelling is not the point of games, the interaction is the point.

I'm with you there, malphigian. What kind of art form, then, should games draw on? Clearly not fiction. What art is interactive? Movies, sculpture, painting, music aren't, at least not in the same way games are. How do you make interactivity into art?
posted by muckster at 6:55 PM on December 3, 2002


Um... another first person shooter? Yay?
posted by kevspace at 7:17 PM on December 3, 2002


muckster, you possibly undersell(?) the interactivity of these other forms you mention; consider them vis a vis the notion of writerly text.

possibly somewhere in the idea of an MMORPG, the idea of storytelling, but stories being told by participants rather than being told to them?
posted by juv3nal at 7:23 PM on December 3, 2002


adamgreenfield is my Hero of The Day™
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:31 PM on December 3, 2002


The Sims is more or less an adaptation of DeLillo's White Noise, no?
posted by LimePi at 8:09 PM on December 3, 2002


juv3nal, I was hoping the qualifier "at least not in the same way games are" would make me Barthes-proof. There's still a big difference between free-floating signifiers and wiggling a joystick.
posted by muckster at 8:14 PM on December 3, 2002


fair enough. i was thinking along similar lines as your main question (how do you make interactivity into art) actually. A huge majority of games do have a story of some kind or other and that's why the tendency to borrow artistic standards from other forms is so strong, but what do we do with something like tetris? how about games in general (as opposed to vid games), when people speak about a beautiful game of chess. Can a similar aesthetic argument be made for the 13 year old who pulls off some 100,000 point combo in tony hawk?
posted by juv3nal at 9:20 PM on December 3, 2002


inpHilltr8r: I knew when I wrote that someone was going to say something like that. That'll show me. Oh, and you can play as many games as you want, it doesn't give you taste. kidding! :)

How can you say that, malphigian? How you define "game" may not be - almost certainly is not, from the sounds of things - isomorphic with the definitions employed by many of those who enjoyed Myst.

In what way do you define "game" such as that Myst is partially outside the set?


Ok, ok, I give, Myst is a game.

I just personally think its a poor example of what makes a good game. I have a special distaste for it because I personally found it so-so and pretty dull, and I got really tired of people who never played games telling me it was the best game ever. And it makes me sad that years later, with so many great games before and after, it still gets held up as a shining example of the medium.
posted by malphigian at 9:23 PM on December 3, 2002


PS: Zombie: I was just talking about ZPC earlier today! We're working on a little web game, and we're collecting games with distinct art styles for inspiration, and we've got a bunch of ZPC shots in our folder.
posted by malphigian at 9:31 PM on December 3, 2002


That said, I think that adventure games can be as good as any genre fiction (I'm thinking of infocom and the better Lucasarts games). Literature, I'm not sure--usually the text is so tightly controlled by the author that crafting it as interactive story would be mindbogglingly difficult.

And genre fiction and literature are two mutually exclusive categories, right? Er, anyway back to the topic at hand...

I don't think I'd call them art with a capitol A, but the games in the Marathon series remain some of my favorite computer games ever. And they have a great story too. I'll admit the story is just good genre fiction and doesn't qualify as literature. (Although it's better written than some books I've read.) However, the story and the action are pretty separate, since the story is told through computer terminals in the game, not through the FPS action that makes up the gameplay. (Actually, the last installment in the series was further along the continuum towards Art with its in-game referencing of game-playing, shifting timelines & points of view, and levels with no purpose other than well-designed stopping off points between the action).

ZPC was designed on top of the Marathon 2 engine, IIRC.
posted by finn at 10:20 PM on December 3, 2002


LimePi, LMAO.

Thanks, stav.
posted by adamgreenfield at 10:47 PM on December 3, 2002


What kind of art form, then, should games draw on?

More and more, I'm thinking architecture. Good games seem to be primarily about place and not about story - the world-creation aspect supersedes all other creative bits that go into a game. Architecture may not seem "interactive", but a building gives you the power to explore it as you see fit, which is in fact more than most games give. (Go back and get the green keycard, sucka.)

I'd also add that storytelling itself is highly interactive, if you think of the archetypal "parent telling kid story" situation. It's a game of question and answer.

And finally - as for games that qualify as art - Silent Hill and Shadow of Destiny should be mentioned. And I'd sorta vote for Marathon, too.
posted by D at 11:57 PM on December 3, 2002


If Tarkovsky's work is inspiring video games, why not Ingmar Bergman's... play chess with Death! reflect on the disappointments of life! try to retain your artistic integrity while your marriage falls apart!
posted by misteraitch at 12:41 AM on December 4, 2002


I want an Eraserhead game.
posted by Fabulon7 at 5:35 AM on December 4, 2002


I'm thinking that Tad Williams' Otherland would make a fantastic game. All the elements are there: a mystery, puzzles, shoot-em-ups, levels, evil conspiracies, etc. It's already done up in a computer-ish way, too.
posted by ashbury at 6:18 AM on December 4, 2002


I don't want to rain on anyone's parade here, but would like to state a few facts:
1) Brothers Strugatsky coined the term Stalker, which nowadays stands pretty well on its own, in 1970ties.
2) This video game does not borrow very much from the book Roadside Picnic (as mentioned earlier, the origin of the word Stalker). In the video game the Zone is created by collapse of a nuclear plant, and most of the monsters found in that zone have nothing to do with the book. It is "loosely based on the original concept of the Zone".
3) It also has absolutely NOTHING to do with Tarkovsky's movie, especially considering that Tarkovsky's movie does not have much to do with the original book. In fact, the script for the movie (written by the same authors) is a work published separately. Roadside Picnic itself is quite good, but its style and atmosphere is worlds removed from Tarkovsky's style. But of course not many people read it outside of Russia.

So the whole point of the original post is invalid. And as far as games based on literary works go, wasn't there a twisted Alice in Wonderland computer game? Much ado about nothing...

PS. Warms my heart to know how many people actually know and have seen Tarkovsky's movies.
posted by adzuki at 7:39 AM on December 4, 2002


interactive fiction never really died. few games in the genre live up to the pretension of the name, but you should check out "spider and web" or "photopia" (both free, as are all the games in the archive) for examples of what i.f. can accomplish when done skillfully.

the 8th annual i.f. competition finished pretty recently, although i hear the games this year weren't as strong as they've been in the past.
posted by jcruelty at 11:12 AM on December 4, 2002


I just personally think its a poor example of what makes a good game. I have a special distaste for it because I personally found it so-so and pretty dull, and I got really tired of people who never played games telling me it was the best game ever. And it makes me sad that years later, with so many great games before and after, it still gets held up as a shining example of the medium.

Perhaps this is just my bias as someone for whom "game" means something like Chess (weaned on Canasta and Bridge, currently play Chess, Backgammon and Euchre when I need to blow off steam) but the hostility toward Myst baffles me. It does get a lot of credit for being one of the first to offer a lush immersive environment. But as far as puzzle games go I would not call it bad. (And certainly if Myst does not qualify as a "game" does that mean that Games is mislabled?) To be quite honest, I've found myself disappointed with most computer games that seem to offer little beyond long hours of "see the monster, kill the monster." No matter how much atmosphere, backstory, or FX you add to a FPS most of them still rely on the twitch.

In terms of what art form should games draw on, why not the extended tradition of game design from the ancient (Go, Chess, Backgammon) to the modern (Monopoly, Scabble and Tetris)? In that respect I think that Warren Specter is really missing the boat when he says that computer games are "just emerging from infancy." Games did not start with pong.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:15 AM on December 4, 2002


KirkJobSluder: Sure, you've described pure twitch FPSs, but that's hardly the whole medium, is it? Its like talking about movies and only mentioning Micheal Bay productions.

A game like Civilization, or The Sims, or even some of the more nuanced FPSs like NOLF2 or Deus Ex, seems to meet your criteria ... or have you not played any of them?

Fair point about board games, but I would argue that they are sort of a different medium, certainly related, but different. A relationship maybe a little like photography and film.
posted by malphigian at 11:41 AM on December 4, 2002


Pedantic post script:
The first computer game ever was not pong, it was spacewar
posted by malphigian at 11:43 AM on December 4, 2002


why not Ingmar Bergman's... play chess with Death!

Even more fun to play badminton with Death.
posted by languagehat at 12:05 PM on December 4, 2002


Given the way the game industry works, wouldn't it perhaps be better to compare (video/computer) games to music than to literature?
posted by Ptrin at 12:16 PM on December 4, 2002


inpHilltr8r: I knew when I wrote that someone was going to say something like that.

I had a feeling that was the case, but felt compelled to make the point. I'm not saying that Myst is a great game, but it was fun at the time.

Oh, and you can play as many games as you want, it doesn't give you taste. kidding! :)

True, but it does mean I have some sort of basis for comparison.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 12:35 PM on December 4, 2002


Given the way the game industry works, wouldn't it perhaps be better to compare (video/computer) games to music than to literature?

In terms of the development process, they're increasingly more like films. Animated films in particular.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 12:38 PM on December 4, 2002


psychokick, yes, agree with the rez point.

if art is supposed to make you think/ reassess your values, then Grand Theft Auto 3 would have to be considered art.

if art is supposed to be aesthetically pleasing, then American McGee's Alice would probably be up for consideration.

if art is supposed to rethink/consider society and societal action (i.e. war), then the sequence of omaha beach in Medal of Honor could be thought of as art. being killed at complete random about 20 times before making it to the bunker is certainly a startling experience.

KirkJobSluder, although games did not start with pong, there is not a complete equality between board games and video/computer games. mainly due to the immersive quality, graphics, sound, and story.

board games are video game at its core, pure gameplay. can gameplay ever be art? my gut instinct tells me no.
posted by eurasian at 3:35 PM on December 4, 2002


The comments pointing toward atmosphere and place (and a bit of architecture) are right on the money. It’s not just interaction that’s important, but a compelling and grand environment that you not play in and plays with you. How else are we to explain me playing through both Op:Flash expansions? Loading up an island and motorcycle and going for a drive? (Even if the allied troop AI are braindead. “Find cover! Forgot that on whatever island this game takes place on ‘find cover’ means run directly toward an oncoming tank.”)

How well an environment reacts depends on the intelligence of other players and the AI. It’s no dumb luck that CounterStrike and EverQuest are two of the most popular games. The environments are compelling and the players are more intelligent than your average AI, 12-year-old PKs not withstanding.

“if art is supposed to...”

I was wondering when someone would get around to defining art.

“the sequence of omaha beach in Medal of Honor could be thought of as art.”

Yea, this was an evironment that you played in and played with you. Ditto ICO. I think Doom III is going to be doing this, everyone loved Halflife and Thief for this reason.

It’s gotta be said whenever MOH comes up how much Omaha Beach and the bombed out radar station was a ripoff of Saving Private Ryan. Omaha Beach was awesome (Hedgrows sorta sucked) but it was also a ripoff. They used the exact same narrative. Tsk, I say. Tsk.
posted by raaka at 6:19 PM on December 4, 2002


MoH was originally a Dreamworks concept, back when Dreamworks had a games division. That's why it's a Pvt Ryan ripoff.

I met with the Dreamworks producers to talk about doing a game for them and saw the Pvt Ryan/MoH storyboards in a hallway. I remember looking at the landing craft sequence and thinking it looked like a bad idea for a game. Which, of course, was ridiculous - EA had hour long lines at E3 for just that sequence.

Which is to say, you can never tell how a game is going to turn out. Daikatana anybody? Or how a movie will turn out. Dave Perry at Shiny told Joel Silver and the Warchovski brothers no thanks when they asked him if he'd make a game based on the Matrix when it was in pre-production. Doh!
posted by Zombie at 6:45 PM on December 4, 2002


"Why would I want to interact with a story?"

Because, done right, it can be more moving and emotionally involving (or at least moving in a different way). For instance, the difference between reading about a character kissing her daughter for the last time and experiencing a simulation where you are so immersed you feel like you are kissing your daughter for the last time.

Or the difference between reading about the death of a character you've enjoyed reading about and seeing/reading about the death of a character you've enjoyed interacting with. Done right, it can feel like you lost a friend. (RIP Floyd.)
posted by straight at 11:26 PM on December 4, 2002


I echo D's suggestions, Silent Hill 1 and 2.

I would also include, Fallout, Deus Ex, System Shock 2...all of these games somehow rose above simply being games and become art for me, full of meaning and metaphor, able to be played again and again and to offer new revelations with each playing.

Myst, for it's time, was the first game that encompassed a sense of wonder for me. And Grim Fandango surely rates a mention. Well written, great art, lots of humour, compassion, and insight...
posted by lucien at 7:03 AM on December 5, 2002


« Older House of the Future   |   Former Head of Faith-Based... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post