Category Archives: Media Commentary

On Games Growing Up, Players, Art, Sunset, Tales of Tales, and the IBTimes


growupA few days ago, Edward Smith wrote a piece for the International Business Times where he makes the suggestion that the attitude of players towards games like Her Story and Sunset are killing the video game industry. His argument stems, unsurprisingly, from the recent bankruptcy of Tales of Tales, the studio responsible for Sunset, and his perception of the general reception of Her Story, an FMV-driven narrative with minimalistic player input in the tradition of Night Trap. Edward explains how he longs for video games to grow up and become an artistic medium, and that player’s receptions to art games are preventing the medium to grow up. This is by no means the first article of its kind. Indeed several commentators have decried how the medium has yet to grow up and how players are preventing the medium from reaching maturity. I disagree with their premise.

Read the rest of this entry

Advertisements

We Need More Sustained Criticism of Individual Games


It seems like ludic academics are not entirely amicable to scholarly inquiry into a single text. Browsing through the most recent volumes of Eludamos, Game Studies, Loading (SFU), and Games and Culture, only a handful of articles will focus on sustained analysis about an individual title, and those that do use individual titles often do so as a case study to prove the merit of a theoretical framework posited in the same article rather than as catalyst for sustained analysis of the text itself.

While I understand the reasoning behind this – discussing concepts is, after all, a far more edifying and – honestly – fun endeavor than sustained inquiry into an individual text, I find the relative lack of single text analysis to be disheartening. At times, sustained scholarly inquiry into a single text can shed light not only on the meaning of the text, but about the role of the text and of media as a whole in society and might help reshape the way in which we talk about genres as a whole.

Why do I make this assertion?

Read the rest of this entry

We Need More Sustained Criticism of Individual Games


It seems to mecriticism like ludic academics are not entirely amicable to scholarly inquiry into a single text. Browsing through the most recent volumes of Eludamos, Game Studies, Loading (SFU), and Games and Culture, only a handful of articles will focus on sustained analysis about an individual title, and those that do use individual titles often do so as a case study to prove the merit of a theoretical framework posited in the same article rather than as catalyst for sustained analysis of the text itself.

While I understand the reasoning behind this – discussing concepts is, after all, a far more edifying and – honestly – fun endeavor than sustained inquiry into an individual text, I find the relative lack of single text analysis to be disheartening. At times, sustained scholarly inquiry into a single text can shed light not only on the meaning of the text, but about the role of the text and of media as a whole in society and might help reshape the way in which we talk about genres as a whole.

Why do I make this assertion? Read on.

Read the rest of this entry

Everything is Narrative


Word on keyboardTwo weeks ago I successfully defended my dissertation, thus earning a Ph.D. During my defense, I made the argument that game mechanics can serve as the foundation for the construction of a narrative. I am by no means the first one to make this claim – indeed, in their video titled Game Mechanics as Narrative, Daniel Floyd of Extra Credits makes a similar argument. In my dissertation, I provided additional examples and took the concept a step further by combining it with other play elements. It’s all very interesting and you can read about it in my book once it’s published. What’s important, however, is that one of the committee members objected to the idea of mechanics as narrative. He said “I think there’s a difference between stuff happening and a narrative.” I explained that my argument was not that mechanics and play are a narrative in the traditional sense of the word, but that mechanics and play create a space in which narrative emerges. Another committee member suggested sports games and chess commentary as examples, and we moved forward with the defense.

However, I have since continued to consider the possibility of “stuff happening” being “a narrative”, and the more I think about it, the more I come to accept the idea that everything is narrative.

Read the rest of this entry