Audience is a tricky word. Where literature is concerned, “audience” means the reader. There are entire libraries of literary theory on the relationship between the reader and the writer, and how they engage with each other. Multiple readings of masterworks have been sustained as part of an ongoing discourse as to the nature of these relationships.
I consider it a great shame that the petabytes of critique penned by intelligent people about video games so often neglects these relationships. We’ve taken great strides when it comes to writing about videogames, to be sure. “New Games Journalism” is so old hat by now in internet years we can largely term all games journalism “New”. Soon we will move into the era of Neo-Games Journalism and Post-Games Journalism, or whatever these people decide to call whatever they write next. I’m hoping for Maximum Games Journalism instead, because it gives me the wonderful mental image of chipmunks strapped into the Oculus Rift virtual reality goggles, hooked to typewriters and dosed with intravenous bottles of Lucozade.
I believe videogame design has gone hardly anywhere in the last two decades.
Or at least, you know, the game part. It’s pretty much non-debatable that the video part has advanced by leaps and bounds, even if you’re one of the people who insist on using FMV target renders as barometers and claim outdated hardware is holding back the graphical curve.
Mechanically, the exact same problems we’ve seen in games decades ago have persisted. Part of this as discussed before is because it’s difficult to justify million-dollar developer investments in gameplay concepts. And it’s also partly because “new and innovative gameplay design”, despite being thrown around so often by the gaming press, is hard as balls.
There’s an observation I’ve made with many videogames these days. Just from looking at my PS3 gaming shelf, nearly every game touted as a polished, critical success and high benchmarks for the genre uses something I call Keyhole Game Design. Keyhole Game Design is as old as Doom.
Again and again we as consumers are told that game developers are reinventing the genre, driving new and innovative gameplay concepts, rewriting the rulebook, yadda yadda blah blah industry catchphrases – only to be handed the same thing. We’re using gameplay concepts as old as Doom, for crying out loud! Doom came out two full decades ago!
Adam Sessler posted a video a couple months ago just on the eve of the Sony Playstation 4 reveal, about shit he wished the next gen of videogames did or fixed. He mentioned a bunch of things and minor quibbles that didn’t resonate with me at all. I have to give him some credit, though; the guy has what passes for clout in the videogame industry, which means we don’t scream YOU MARKETING WHORE for at least thirty seconds when he recommends a game. And he had a good idea; posting open letters on the internet sure is a positive driver for change in any industry! Here are my ideas to make the next gen suck less.
Legends tell of something called a “blog”, a portmanteau of the words “web” and “log”. I figure 2013 is close enough to the Everything That Ever Was Available Forever singularity as posited by Patton Oswalt that I can get away with saying whatever I want in the morass that is the internet.
So I will shquat (“shit”/”squat”) on the tisting (“time”/”wasting or festering”) pustern (“pus-filled”/”cistern”) that is the internet (“internal, or these days, international”/”network”) until I squeeze out a modisfying (“moderately”/”satisfying”) bunch of logs (i.e. “shit”) for the purposes of edutainment.
Look out world! Here comes an order of authentic chow mein hahahahahahaha