I did a thing on a hill. It was dead and anxious.
November 8, 2014 7:07 PM   Subscribe

Rob Sherman meditates on the connections between writing and games. "This difficulty lies in the very word “games”, this glyph that we all accept to stand for something greater, and its association, in our culture, with another word. Play." posted by Sparx (11 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
 
14932 words which I will doubtless read one day.
posted by Sebmojo at 8:09 PM on November 8, 2014


I skimmed it, but there were some interesting thoughts--the one I came away with was interactive fiction (the medium) needs to be better in order to engage us more effectively. YMMV, and all that.
posted by pjmoy at 9:55 PM on November 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


I certainly hope they're planning to appoint an editor-in-residence as well.
posted by RogerB at 10:28 PM on November 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


I had an art teacher once who told me, "It's ok to bore me. I would rather be bored by your work than entertained. We are so saturated with entertainment in this culture, I can go anywhere and be endlessly entertained. Boredom, though, that's unique. Make me feel anything but entertained."

Games have historically been a part of this font of entertainment, judged by how much fun they are, and it's difficult for a lot of people to imagine them existing apart from that. I think of visiting the art museum with my mother, who whispered to me as we walked, "Oh, I like that one. I don't like that one. That one's nice. I don't like that one." Most people assess whether something appears pleasing enough to be fit for their consumption, and are not interested if that thing doesn't conform to their expectations. Games are supposed to be fun, so if you look at a game and it doesn't look fun, then it must not be a good game, right?

There have been a few works recently, like David O'Reilly's Mountain, that have openly defied this expectation, and I think it's a stance that's as important to video games as Dadaism was to the art world.
posted by buriednexttoyou at 11:05 PM on November 8, 2014 [5 favorites]


I love how he uses language. I want to fall down and wriggle all over his sentences.
posted by Deoridhe at 11:32 PM on November 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


Games have historically been a part of this font of entertainment, judged by how much fun they are, and it's difficult for a lot of people to imagine them existing apart from that.

It may be due to the language we use. By definition a game is entertainment. I would say a game not designed to be entertainment is not a game at all; "interactive fiction" or something like that is a better term.
posted by Sangermaine at 12:43 AM on November 9, 2014


> light candle
Light candle with what?
> light candle with matches
Those matches are all wet!
> light candle with white rock and steel
You don't see a 'steel' here.
> light candle with white rock and knife
You make a spark, but it doesn't hit the wick.
> light paper with white rock and knife
You don't see a 'paper' here.
> light map with rock and knife
Which rock do you mean?

One problem I have with text adventures, which is not specifically what he's writing about but is something most people first think of when they hear the words 'interactive fiction', is that the language is so horribly stilted. This is mostly directly caused by the puzzle solving aspect. It beats any chance of actual art happening right out of the text. If I brought the above passage to a writer's critique, what would be said about it.

I like what he said on this, I agree absolutely, it's mostly worth the read, but I feel like a good editor could have helped him out.
posted by newdaddy at 4:24 AM on November 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


I enjoyed this, although it made me sad that it talked so much about a game that has just become unavailable.

It also made me think about a type of game that I haven't seen. As the protagonist, rather than you constantly getting stronger and the enemies getting tougher to balance it, are there any where you start out extremely powerful, and then "level down" so that you have to be more skillful to continue? It could lead to a game where you end up as the archetypal legendary old warrior who does everything with his bare hands, but you start as a younger guy with a massive bazooka, or suit made of axes, or simliar. Every level up, is a year worth of aging.
posted by fizban at 4:43 AM on November 9, 2014 [10 favorites]


The Frozen Throne expansion to Warcraft 3 had a bit of that. In the undead campaign you start out controlling a powerful death knight who grows weaker and weaker as the campaign goes on.
posted by squinty at 8:24 AM on November 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


It could lead to a game where you end up as the archetypal legendary old warrior who does everything with his bare hands...

This is a fun idea that reminds me of the old joke about the two bulls and the pasture full of cows ("Let's run down there and screw one of those cows," says the young bull. "No," says the old bull, "let's walk and screw them all.")

In your game (depending on milieu), I guess the protag would start out as a straight up broadsword wielding Fighter and level up to a Monk or a Rogue or something? I'm also thinking the old dude better be good at getting other people to do things for him.

In another familiar gaming context -- leveling up from rifle-carrying Infantryman to journal-keeping Eisenhower.
posted by notyou at 8:32 AM on November 9, 2014


As the protagonist, rather than you constantly getting stronger and the enemies getting tougher to balance it, are there any where you start out extremely powerful, and then "level down" so that you have to be more skillful to continue?

Sword & Sworcery EP sort of does this actually.
posted by Reyturner at 11:05 AM on November 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


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