Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Defenders Of Irreverance

The folks over at Extra Credits officially came out against fun.  Okay, that's a gross oversimplification.  They want to see games develop beyond being "just fun".  I want to agree with you guys, I really do.  But then I think to every ass-hat with some pretentious vision finally getting the greenlight on his auteur project and... well, this is how the movie "The Room" got made.  In fact, I think it's time I addressed something the Extra Credits folks like: game schools.  They think game schools are great, barring the the fake schools that just take your money.  But I also tend to think of all of them as fake schools.  Game schools are like film schools; if you're going to film school, get your parents to take that tuition money and instead invest in a movie you're making, then make that movie.  Parent's not paying for it?  Then finance it yourself, that's how you were planning on paying for film school anyway.  The same should apply to game school.  What's more impressive: having a fancy diploma or actually having a solid game to your name?

How does this apply to the discussion on games being fun?  Because think to yourself how many great directors got their start in film school.  Spielberg, Scorsese, and I think Lucas.  Now think how many great directors got their start as cameramen, special effects guys, and script editors (before getting work as screenwriters).  Game schools are the same, the great designers all have traditional degrees in computer sciences and/or literature and classics (go back far enough and some of them never finished their degrees).  You're probably still asking what this has to do with expanding games beyond fun and into serious work.  Because it's not just that film schools (and by extension, game schools) have a low success rate for greatness, but look at what gets churned out by students.  Yet another knock-off of Ingmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal.  The more you tell them to "be artistic", the more likely they are to start churning out pretentious crap that is trying to look artistic.  And with game schools (as with film schools) it will all look exactly like what the professor said was good in pre-existing works.

I think games can be more than fun.  I think they can be deep and engaging, in fact I can think of several games off the top of my head that fit those criteria (how Final Fantasy X got mentioned by Extra Credits is beyond me).  But the more we demand that games be "artistic", then the more assholes we'll get making reprehensible shit and defending it by saying that we commoners don't understand their vision.

Statement: Video games should be about more than just fun.

Rebuttal: Heavy Rain