Thursday, August 4, 2011

I've Harped On This Before

Oh yes, it's the "games as art" shpiel again. I'm not saying the folks at Extra Credits are wrong in their arguments per se, I'm just saying that they're starting from an incorrect premise. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe this is just a symptom of me being that "I like it but..." type of gamer, the guy who likes a game but can't recommend it because it's objectively indefensible. Like those Dynasty Warriors games I like.

In any case, one thing that art shouldn't have to deal with is audience participation. Look at a game like Metal Gear. I was about seven when I first played that game, and I hated it. The reason? I was playing it wrong. We've all seen it, we've all recommended a game to friend only to have said friend not like the game. Upon hearing their critique of the game, you realize he was playing it wrong and that's why he didn't like it (although sometimes it's a failure of common sense because AIRPLANES DO NOT WORK UNDERWATER MATOUSHIN).

Art should not have to function like this, and it's serious points against anything that does. I mean, I like Evangelion, but my biggest complaint is that it's possible to watch it wrong. When has "you're watching/reading it wrong" ever been a reasonable defense for films or novels? It's an automatic mark against a piece of art if my participation is required for it to function. And games, by default, require player participation. Unless they have hour long cinematics, which is rightfully a complaint against games because we're supposed to be playing them.

If anyone reading this disagrees, I'm throwing down the gauntlet. You write up how football is an art from the player's perspective (actual art, not just a series of complexities) and I'll start to seriously listen to the "games as art" argument. Until then, Bioshock might have been an awful awful game without the literary references, but I'm just trying to shoot libertarians.