A Collection of Assorted Bon Mots, Ear Worms, and Aphorisms
Yet Another Exploration in Futility
The funny thing about the “younger generation is lazy and lacks morals/virtue” is that they were saying that shit in socrates’ time
Some Mental Vomit about Video Games as Art
To be honest, I’ve always been surprised that this was ever a topic of debate. Mostly, I think it’s sort of a straw man argument that gamers make to justify spending hella time playing computer games. “MOM. I’m NOT WASTING TIME. I’M APPRECIATING ART.”
You can spend hella time watching movies, and it’s still wasting time. But the question kind of does touch for me that age-old question, “what makes art?” So, in asking “Are videogames art?” you kind of get a backdoor on that whole conversation. So I’m tackling it because, hell, why not.
Short answer: Yes, of course.
Long Answer: I think most approaches to the “are video games art” that try to examine the so-called “artistic elements” of a video game are sort of inherently flawed, though. You don’t watch a movie for the writing necessarily. You don’t even watch it for the visuals or special effects. What makes a movie good or bad isn’t its component parts, its how a cinematographer and a director, and a whole team of artists work together to create a finished film.
Looking at the quality of the writing in a video game seems, if you’ll permit me a straw man, like examining the riveting-work on the Statue of Liberty. Sure, it’s important, and sure, without it the whole thing falls apart, but if the riveting alone, or the size alone, or the shape alone is what becomes for a viewer the definition of the Statue of Liberty as a monument, then I think there might have been a fundamental point missed.
Good writing, good gameplay design, and good visual elements are components that make a good game. Of course, there’s a tremendous technical side underlying the presentation of the game, but pretty much every medium that doesn’t involve rubbing charcoal on a cave wall requires some level of technical know-how in order to be achieved.
Ceramicists need to know how a kiln works so their pots don’t blow up. Someone needs to mix paints and understand how pigments work. Photography is entirely premised on the construction of a machine that exposes light for a fraction of a second on a specially treated plastic surface that is then enlarged onto a piece of paper that can be chemically altered to reproduce an image. So video games require nerds with keyboards. So it requires specialized hardware to enjoy.
A medium doesn’t cease being art because it utilizes science. In fact, the precise opposite is true: art is art because it is the truest expression of a technology.
hi i just got home so this is hella late but i think a far better and more interesting question than “are video games art” is “why is the writing in video games almost universally so poor” because its pretty hard to disagree with the premise and you can usually have a better discussion
because all video games are genre fiction. because “gameplay” entails either violence or something that nobody will buy, or something (like tennis? the sims?) that doesn’t require writing to begin with.
because good writing has never outsold satisfying headshots or (for jrpgs) progressive numerical advancement.
because good writing, like antistropic filtering, is something that most gamers don’t quite understand, but realize that there should be more of. more is better, but you that could do without, should the headshots or the numbers be satisfying enough.
or maybe just because good writing is hard to quantify and video games are a brave new world. i think Hotline Miami was well written but not by the same standards that I would apply to a book or play or movie or whatever.
MAYbe the answer lies SOMEwhere in the MIDDLE
counterpoint to the assertion that good writing does not outsell headshots: Valve
Counter-counterpoint: Their games are still centered around really good mechanics. The writing and art are really just window dressing to the activity the player is actively doing. It’s like, the difference between a carnival ride and a bike ride. A carnival ride takes you on a fixed path to see a bunch of things that are neat. A bike ride takes you pretty much anywhere you need to go, and you’re probably biking for biking’s sake. But it’s nicer to bike on a pretty trail than an ugly one.
Note to Self:
Write an article about addressing anti-Americanism and Islamic fundamentalism in the Middle East. Title it “How Do You Solve a Problem Like Muhammad?”
He jacked the passengerbus mainframe, but some interface residue snizzled up his data stream slightly, reducing optic input to a distracting 5-D glance at an idiot avatar with a comically distorted head-to-shoulders assembly and spex-ribbon ringing his head like a doll’s bow. It more than figured that 68Gasm would parachute him into the passenger-grid unannounced; typical sense of humor for a four-hour subroutine maxed out of spare giggs. Even while observing this, Queneau detected a noisy lattice overlay just beneath the horizon of his optics, the scuffling of one infoshoe against another, vying to divvy the limited floorgrid. He took little notice. Putting aside static one avatar might offload to another, the scuffle was merely a generic output of the overlay.
Abruptly now he veered: in a segue that could have been lightyears or a pixel blink, he found himself exo-gloved into the Saint-Lazare spectrum, the brink of the matter at hand. These pitches always nauseated Queneau, no matter how inured he should be by now to the recursion-toxicity. The button! he screamed silently. Change the button!
Queneau created a simple story — a narrator witnesses a small altercation between two men on a bus, and later sees one of the men getting a button mended on his jacket — and from that small narrative proceeded to do the extraordinary: rewrite the story in ninety-nine different ways.
For the 65th anniversary edition of Exercises in Style (it was first published in France in 1947), New Directions has taken the idea and run with it. Ten contemporary writers were asked to create new exercises in homage to Queneau. Among these, Jonathan Lethem’s “Cyberpunk” exercise is featured [above].
Is it like, a rule that cyberpunk has to be written in such a way that what I’m reading is basically a random string of characters arranged in such a way that I’m no longer certain that I’m reading prose or the little doodles that they put in speech bubbles when comic book people stub their toes.