Gaming Uber Alles

Gaming Uber Alles
Culture Wargames

Kieron Gillen | 12 Jul 2005 12:04
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I think he missed a trick in his determination to prove one superior to the other, however. Rather than being a competition where one must triumph, the real situation is that Epic Verse succeeds in different things in different ways than does Tragedy. That's all. In other words, things in ancient Greece were exactly as they are now. The new forms are judged according to the standards of the old forms, and found wanting, until someone notes that while the new form may not excel in one area, it far exceeds the old in others.

So, no, games aren't currently as able as literature or film at capturing those quiet, sensitive moments. And, while I personally doubt this will prove to be the case, maybe they never will be. Really, it doesn't matter. When you manage to show me a book that captures the exhilaration of flying down a snowy slope while pulling a physically impossible contortion even a fraction as well as SSX Tricky does, we'll talk about which one is intrinsically superior. And please bury that absolutely vile concept that primal sensations are somehow "lesser". Saying it's vulgar is just another way devotees of another form admit they can't manage to appreciate it even a fraction as well and, through this label, put limits on what's an acceptable sensation for a work to translate.

Despite the nay-sayers, games are still in the enviable position of being capable of expressing experiences other forms have had difficulties with, where its competitors' possibilities are at least partially quenched. While film, and its smaller-screened sister television, casting the last hundred years in soft, flickering light, still achieve magnificent things, its ideas and boundaries are increasingly well plotted. Games have barely even started.

It even helps games' case that film is a more limited form in what it can present. Games can and have consumed influences from all other arts, and integrated them into a seamless whole. While the academic fisticuffs between the mechanic-hungry Ludologists and the story-obsessed Narratologists have attempted to define what games should be, all either has done is make the grand totality of games smaller to fit their prejudices. As much as a classical Narratologist may snort at Tetris or a Ludologist take issue with a Final Fantasy game, to remove either from the canon lessens the import of the canon. That beloved games with real power have come from both traditions, and successful hybrids appear at every point between the two poles, shows how foolish such attempts are. Games are bigger than that. With games' immersion through interactivity, they can abstractly take us anywhere, show us anything and allow us to do whatever we want.

So, where, precisely, is this brashly confident child of the arts going to take us in the twenty-first century?

I really don't know.

And that's exciting.

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