(Editor's note: In response to a letter to the editor last week, The Escapist contributor Tom Rhodes responds.)
When I first read your letter, it seemed fair and reasonable enough to me. But as I read and re-read, I started to find that, although you were supporting such games' right to exist, you were also condemning the people who played them.
You said "there will always be individuals who make unwise choices in the games they play." At that I took deep offense. Perhaps for the same reason that you chose to include Dungeons and Dragons in with Grand Theft Auto, something of which I was stupefied to read. Almost as much as reading "...there are destructive books, TV shows, movies, etc. that should not be read nor watched."
You further state that, "The proper response to destructive games is not to ban games, rather it is to becreative and make good games that are at worst, fun ways to relax, and at best games that have a positive influence on our lives." But to relegate games, or other "destructive" types of media, to a world of demons and ghosts, we are really placing ourselves in this happy bubble, ignoring that the so-called destructive games, television shows, movies, and books can illuminate something about our world, or perhaps ourselves. Does Hamlet have a positive influence on people's lives? I'd say, from the strict perspective of the narrative, it doesn't. But does it enrich our lives? Most certainly. While Grand Theft Auto is no Shakespearean drama, I don't think any piece of media in the past year has caused more reflection on ourselves and society than it has. Random, senseless violence managed to get us all talking, and how about that?
As for the bloodsports, surely anyone who associates pixelated violence with true loss of human life possesses neither the clarity, nor the opportunity, to look down on others.
My advice? Find a shorter horse to ride on.
To the Editor: I was refreshed and inspired by Gearoid Reidy's article in last week's Escapist. Thanks!!
I'm an artist at Irrational Games in Boston. We're working on Bioshock which, by all appearances, is shaping up to be a decent sci-fi shooter with some RPG elements. It's my first developer side job and I love it. Bioshock is a cool project with some innovative design features and a relatively sophisticated story, however, at its core, it's a fairly conventional game from a genre and execution standpoint. The real reason I got into this industry is because I'm hoping that games will graduate to an artistically legitimate art form over the next decade. I feel like currently we are in the infant stages of exploring the interactive medium. It took awhile for filmmakers to come up with anything beyond novelty when it was first invented 100+ years ago...and now it is arguably the most affecting and definitely the most widely appreciated and socially significant artistic medium we have (at least in the west) . I have such high hopes and ambitions about "gaming" that Ithink it could theoretically disrupt the monarchy of film and bring artistic expression and commentary to a new level of immersion and emotional significance.
I want to make a dramatic game, or a tragic game, or a comedy....is it even possible? Is it possible to make a game that's like Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow, or Terrence Malick's Badlands? Would it even be called a 'game' at that point?
I thought I was the only one with these thoughts out there ... thanks for keeping me optimistic.
-Hoagy de la Plante