Don’t forget games! – The Good, The Bad and The Pixely

Charlie Brooker wrote a great piece in the guardian yesterday about why he loves video games. It is still something that many people seem to close their minds too. In a way the virtual world experiences they are having will be a gateway to understanding the many forms of expression that games bring.
I just completed the story line of Modern Warfare 2 (no spoilers BTW), it got to a point at the end that I was shouting at the screen. This was because the game flows in an out of being in control and having to just watch. In all movies you sit and watch, its that simple. The story may or may not engage you. However some of the set pieces have you on the edge of you seat. It may be the Terminator dragging himself towards an incapacitated Sarah Conner, it may be a massive army charging towards an outnumbered set of heroes or Bond catching up with the bad guy in a car chase. They all require you to become engaged for it to work. When you have switched into a mode in a highly visual game where you have been solving problems and that is taken away from you (in context) the sense of drama and engagement is heightened. Cut scenes used to just be a way to show some pre-rendered visuals to set the scene, but the blurring of the cut scene narrative with the restricted interaction I thought was brilliant. (I have been playing games since the 70’s).
So as Charlie Brooker said “If you don’t play games, you’re not just missing out, you’re wilfully ignoring the most rapidly evolving creative medium in human history.”
Of course games are not just one thing, one genre, one experience. They meet many different tastes and needs. The abstract cartoon style social games of Cafe World and Farmville focussed on the daily grind (just as many MMO’s such as World of Warcraft rely on) to the now much more open ended experiences. The latter being demonstrated here with Red Dead Redemption from Rockstar Games. It’s not just the graphics, physics and code its the potential for narrative and engagement for one or more people.
See what you think.

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