Randomness (r_ness) wrote,

Readers should get game-literate

(It strikes me this is obvious to those of us who spend significant time playing video games, but perhaps not to a lot of other people.)

Excerpted from http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/books/2008/02/readers_should_get_gameliterat_1.html:
Readers should get game-literate

Far from spelling the end of proper storytelling, video games point towards its future

Alastair Harper
February 7, 2008 3:30 PM

Here at the Guardian there are apparently only seven forms of arts and entertainment. Art itself, television, books, theatre, film, music and even the little old radio get a mention. There they are, at the top of your screen, the limit of our cultural world catalogued succinctly.

Video games are, unlike the poppiest of music, still not something broadsheet newspapers feel comfortable treating as anything close to real art. If they feature at all in the review sections, it's on a half-page at the back written by someone who seems to have attended the Dick and Dom school for journalistic expression.

To adults who play sophisticated games regularly (such as those over at the Guardian's Gamesblog) it is an old contention that video games can be art, and tell a story in a way nothing else can. To everyone else, it seems madness to think those digitised and extra gory versions of Rambo IV could ever do anything subtle. OK, so there is a mountain of idiotic guff made into video games and most are the top sellers. But are the book charts any different?

When the popular novel was as new an idea as video games, the great and good were certain, as they were with early cinema, that no sophistication could come from this prose business, especially the sort of filth Samuel Richardson scribbled about.

They were proven wrong, as doubters will be about video games. As happened with comic books becoming graphic novels in the 80s, each year there are more developers willing to take risks with storylines, develop more complex moral situations and generally raise the bar so high that it's becoming plain ignorant for anyone interested in stories to ignore them.

We need more real writers getting involved in making video games, not fewer. The results could be astounding. It will happen. Elitist suspicion of a new way of storytelling will only last so long, and I doubt the next generation of writers, who grew up on the likes of Beneath A Steel Sky, would have so many prejudices. Heaven only knows what a great writer could do with this new format. I can't wait.
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