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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.

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A Shift in the Image of “The Gamer”

It is during this lazy Sunday afternoon that I am finally able to articulate a concern that has been boggling my mind for a while (fancy way of saying “ranting about stuff”) – and that is the notion of what a “gamer” is. When the medium of videogames was young “gamers” consisted mostly of MIT programmers and, when they eventually became commercial, the hip young crowd at a bar playing a “game” where two ambiguously shaped squares paddled a smaller ambiguously shaped square back and forth. Back then, before the early 1980s, “videogames” were nothing more than a curiosity to spend a few minutes with an odd form of entertainment. Read the rest of this entry