It's Okay To Be Dumb

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It's Okay To Be Dumb

Especially when being smart makes you miserable.

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"A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men."
Roald Dahl

basically how I feel about it.

Dennis Scimeca:
The worst sins of the intellectual are the assumption that beings of lesser intelligence can't "get" what is being said, and the laziness to break concepts down into pieces that just about anyone can understand. If any critic wants to make a medium better their first job is to educate and inspire discussion.

Unfortunately not. That's their second job. Their first job is to ensure they still have the second job. You don't do that by de-mystifying your profession. The same thing is true of developers, writers, athletes, artists...

I see it with musicians, since that's my field. Plenty of performers love to let people talk about "talent" and being "gifted," because it lends this air of inaccessible mystery to what they do. You'll hear very few talk about how they got good by putting in hours and hours of hard work specifically targeted at getting better at it from a very early age. And you'll rarely ever hear one mention the dreaded "luck."

The job isn't to show you how to do what they do, or to understand what they understand. The job is to get you to pay (or just love) them for what they do... and they get that by making you feel that you can't do it (but that you're better than other people if you go along with them).

Really, it's an ego thing. The fewer people there are that "get it," the more important I must be. I want you to take me seriously, so I'm going to do the following:

1. Make my job sound as hard as possible, maybe even harder than it actually is.
2. Minimize or trash-talk the efforts of others in the same field.
3. Build an air of artificial mystery by being deliberately obtuse, so that I can them point to all the simpletons that just don't get it.
4. Use the imagined corpses of those simpletons as stepping stones to my ivory tower.

The "elite" gamers and the "serious" developers are currently teaming up on this under the guise of attacking "dumb" games and gamers -- the enemy of my enemy is my friend, you know.

I shoot good
tank go boom
:/

on another note, i would love to debate on jonathan blow and this clark fellow on the various sides of determinism.

Hrrr hrrrrmmm... Fascinating.

Well, I read the original Atlantic article and it pissed me off. Because I honestly thought the man who wrote it didn't play games at all. (Blow ticked me off too, but a lot less than Clark and I thought Blow had good points. Clark had none.)

Then I read what Clark had wrote in Kotaku and was suitably impressed. It seemed I had misjudged him to some extent (which only pointed out the failings of the Atlantic article even more)...

Then I read what your piece good sir Dennis, and am more suitably impressed with you.

While I agree with you on many points, I feel that Clark will perhaps be doing the industry some good. While we should never shy away from our enjoyment of silly things, (because being silly is AWESOME) we really must acknowledge that a lot of the games we know and love are silly. Now, many people I know have absolutely zero problem with saying that CoD and GoW are silly things, there are those out there who wish to pretend they are deadly serious mature pieces of work and what not. We should delight and revel in the glorious silliness of it all, not run and hide from it.

I would also like to see more of the... *sighs* well for lack of a better term more of the "intelligent" kind of game out there. As Mr. Clark says, if we want silly, we have plenty of it. Intelligent is still in short supply however.

Can we find a better word to describe these games than, "Dumb"? First, dumb means can't speak. Link is dumb. Gordan Freeman is dumb. Samus was until recently dumb. But a video game doesn't speak because it's not a person. There can be speaking people in a video game, but the game itself does not speak.

All video games are dumb because they can't speak.

Are most video games stupid? This is, possibly, a better word, a word more suited to what Clark means, but that's still not getting to what he's talking about. On the scale of intelligence, stupid is a negative. Stupid is plot that contradicts itself and inconsistent mechanics. Stupid is broken.

Most video games are mindless. Or, more precisely, most video games do not require us to be mindful. And yet, the strategies people develop for a "mindless" game like Modern Warfare, the ever-evolving coordination of team against team, is certainly not an activity you can turn your mind off for.

At the end of the day, I think what Clark means is "simple". Modern Warfare is a simple game (not to be confused with "easy"). More specifically, Clark complains about the narrative and emotional simpleness that pervades modern games.

And to that I say, "Eh." Sometimes a game is about mechanics. Sometimes a game is about plot and characters. Sometimes a game invokes certain feelings (frustration?) Buy what you like. Ignore the rest. Don't be a dick about what other people like.

Dastardly:

Dennis Scimeca:
The worst sins of the intellectual are the assumption that beings of lesser intelligence can't "get" what is being said, and the laziness to break concepts down into pieces that just about anyone can understand. If any critic wants to make a medium better their first job is to educate and inspire discussion.

Unfortunately not. That's their second job. Their first job is to ensure they still have the second job. You don't do that by de-mystifying your profession. The same thing is true of developers, writers, athletes, artists...

This may be true with some people, but it's just dumb.

In the musician's case, even if he/she did tell how they got good, few people would actually be willing to invest that many hours into getting good at something.

As someone who does research and teaching on highly technical fields involving mathematics and other stuff, I truly believe almost anyone can learn advanced mathematics, but very few actually want to learn it, unfortunately. I also don't think that explaining how to do it ("well, you just study it") reduced the mystique surrounding people who are extremely good at what they do, so you can explain it all you want.

While it's a bit differant than what the person being criticized was apparently saying, I *DO* things games are getting pretty dumb and that it's a bad thing. Largely because of the sheer number of casuals in the medium and gaming companies dumbing down games to appeal to them as they are the lagest overall group, and there is the most money to be made. Viewed objectively games have become increasngly banal, where rather than the occasional "dumb" game good for the mainstream or a bit of intellectual slumming, it's becoming harder and harder to find anything that isn't on that level.

The gaming medium has gotten to the point of say breaking everything down into the smallest and simplest words, as one might do for a small child or mentally disabled person, and forgetting to speak normally the rest of the time or ever come up beyond that level. The potential we saw for gaming in decades past as a form of smart, adult entertainment is effectively being squandered.

This kind of elitist rant is not popular, but I see it as a problem, and it feeds the kind of criticism here.

I feel gaming should strive to improve it's own audience instead of simply remaining stooped to the lowest common denominator.

Don't get me wrong, there is nothing inherantly wrong with enjoying "dumb" games, I do myself, but when that's increasingly all there is, there is a problem.

To put it into perspective, your typical game right now is one that an 8 or 9 year old can pick up and understand and play with a degree of skill. That us the mental age level of say "Battlefield" and all it takes for the game. Indeed, despite the rating we do see kids that young playing games of that sort. This means that when you are playing a game of that sort your basically stopping down to that mental age level, as opposed to finding something that challenges you on an older, or more developed level. There is no problem with this inherantly, it's sort of like someone who can appreciate masters-level literature and genuinely deep films, also enjoying say the WWE. But when all you have is the WWE being produced... well that is a problem.

Also do not misunderstand what I'm saying here as being something where all games should be made for the intelligencia, I think there IS a middle ground. I think you can have games that are not "dumb" that also aren't calling for some kind of genius. You know games actually intended for someone with the intellectual capacity of a 20-30 year old, a game that might not be hard for them exactly, but is definatly going to be more than your typical 8 or 9 year old is going to be able to pick up and play, getting the full experience out of it.

If people remain content with the level games are produced at, it will not increase, and as such I think people do need to focus on this issue.

tautologico:
This may be true with some people, but it's just dumb.

Oh, I agree 100%.

In the musician's case, even if he/she did tell how they got good, few people would actually be willing to invest that many hours into getting good at something.

Also agreed. Most of us could learn to play the trombone with enough time and effort. Some people, for a variety of reasons, just pick it up faster -- which some people mistake for "easier." Most people have around the same potential for "how good" they could be at something, and "talent" just sort of changes how quickly people climb to that potential.

But it pays off to sell it another way. If I learn something faster than you, and I can convince you that it's because I have "the talent for it" and you don't, and that this fact means you really can't be as good as me... well, I win. You, and others who believe, will be more likely to pay more for what I do, and I'll have less competition.

It's exactly the same thing that publishers are doing to try to get folks to continue using the age-old distribution model they love.

As someone who does research and teaching on highly technical fields involving mathematics and other stuff, I truly believe almost anyone can learn advanced mathematics, but very few actually want to learn it, unfortunately. I also don't think that explaining how to do it ("well, you just study it") reduced the mystique surrounding people who are extremely good at what they do, so you can explain it all you want.

At the same time, our culture does enough to perpetuate the "mystique" of math and science. "It's not rocket science," we say. But I'm with you -- most people could, given the right time and experiences, grasp the concepts behind it. In fact, my whole job depends on that belief: I'm a teacher.

But our culture is designed to convince people that what they have now is all they'll ever have, and right many of them believe it. "I'm just not good at math" is somehow an acceptable reason to stay bad at math. Could we imagine infants saying, "I'm just not good at walking?" Of course you're not. You just started.

I guess we're kind of straying a bit from the topic now... I still feel it's related, but stop me if we're way out in left field! The idea is that "hardcore" gamers and developers (at least those who spout the "games are getting dumb" line) want to maintain the mystery of what they do -- they're trying to protect their exclusivity.

Therumancer:
To put it into perspective, your typical game right now is one that an 8 or 9 year old can pick up and understand and play with a degree of skill.

And we, the grown-up gamers, have simply forgotten that we were maybe 8 or 9 when we got started. Because the industry has grown up with us, we have forgotten than other generations of new gamers are following along behind us... and now, there's more of us than there are them.

We're the "old people" now, man. Old folks that sit around and complain about how it's a "young man's world" out there, without realizing that, as we've "aged" and moved forward, the world has filled in behind us. There are more people under 80 in the world than there are people over 80, so an 80-year-old should probably understand that most of the world will be geared toward "younger" folks.

Games aren't getting "dumber." We're getting older (or just more game-experienced). And gaming just had a bit of a "baby boom" with the rise of mobile/casual/etc. games. The newbies outnumber us, so most of the games are at their level. It doesn't mean we won't still have our "old folks" games. It just means we aren't the majority anymore.

Dastardly:

Therumancer:
To put it into perspective, your typical game right now is one that an 8 or 9 year old can pick up and understand and play with a degree of skill.

And we, the grown-up gamers, have simply forgotten that we were maybe 8 or 9 when we got started. Because the industry has grown up with us, we have forgotten than other generations of new gamers are following along behind us... and now, there's more of us than there are them.

We're the "old people" now, man. Old folks that sit around and complain about how it's a "young man's world" out there, without realizing that, as we've "aged" and moved forward, the world has filled in behind us. There are more people under 80 in the world than there are people over 80, so an 80-year-old should probably understand that most of the world will be geared toward "younger" folks.

Games aren't getting "dumber." We're getting older (or just more game-experienced). And gaming just had a bit of a "baby boom" with the rise of mobile/casual/etc. games. The newbies outnumber us, so most of the games are at their level. It doesn't mean we won't still have our "old folks" games. It just means we aren't the majority anymore.

Well, yes and no. When gaming first started it was something only a very few kids could get into due to the difficulty of working systems like the C-64. If you were actually gaming back in that time frame you represent an exception, and thus have little to do with this discussion to begin with.

You didn't see kids really getting into gaming until the time of the NES, and despite everything there weren't actually all that many kids gaming as it was a very expensive toy. 99% of the people who claim to have been gaming on the NES are liars as you can tell just by comparing the claims to the number of actual consoles moved and carts sold. If even a tenth of the people claiming to have started gaming back with the NES actually did, instead of trying to gain gamer cred by claiming it was the case, Nintendo would currently be a global super power dictating terms to major goverments due to the sheer amount of money it would have made in that time frame. :)

The thing about that time was that the NES was an expensive toy and it existed in an entirely differant cosm from serious games being played on real computers.

People interested in serious games right now might be a minority, but understand that's kind of the problem. In catering to the majority the industry itself brought in, gaming is being killed as that kind of intellectual slumming, and very little but, is destroying the medium due to it no longer improving, or advancing. It's pretty much regressed to games being little more than NES era kiddie toys, gussied up with new technology, and has not been moving. In general game developers realize there is a decent market for making serious games, because while a minority real gamers are a pretty big one, it's just that everyone in the industry wants to go after the biggest profits possible and care nothing for the medium, or what could potentially be if it tried to uplift it's own market, rather than what can be done to line their pockets right now. As a result games are dumb, intended for dumb people, and it's only very rarely that you see a game trying to be more than that... and certainly not as often as those with the interest in serious gaming would like or in keeping with their actual numbers.

In short, I understand the reasons WHY things are this way, but that doesn't mean that the problem shouldn't be mentioned and railed against. Half the problem is people being too complacent.

I'll also be honest in saying that the gaming industry seems to be involved in a suicide pact of sorts, and are loading the guns as we speak. Games being dumbed down to the current level, so that any mouth breahter with brain wave activity can sit down and play an "M" rated game means that it's becoming increasingly difficult to defend the content and say that they aren't targeting children. When you consider than an 8 or 9 year old is capable of playing Call Of Duty due to the simplification of the controls and such, with them being aimed at a very young mental age level, it's hard to defend that content only being there for adults. One of the reasons why there was less of an issue with the computer games of years past was not because today's technology is capable of being so much more graphic, but because your typical kid, or technophobic moron couldn't just get a game to run and head right out and find this content at their fingertips. One of yesterday's "Shockers" like say "Harvester" wasn't a big deal because it wasn't something some kid could walk into a store, drop a couple of weeks allowance for, plug into a deck, and start playing with nothing else needed. Likewise it wasn't something your typical bible thumper could do the same thing with when they are looking for this week's crusade.

I also think gaming needs to grow up for it's own protection, and that games carrying mature themes and material should come with an adult level of sophistication to make them less approachable to young children and such... though this is something of a side issue I've diverged into.

In short I think gaming needs to grow up for it's own good, something that needs to happen for a number of reasons. It's current state is neither good for itself as a medium, or it's place in society.

I agree with the article but I'm not of a fan of how defensive the article (and a lot of gamers) get when the word "Smart" or "Intellectual" arises. Intellectual ideas don't have to be something artificially forced on a game after its development, nor do they have to be something separate to what makes the game fun. You can read a lot of the 'intellectual' novels without having to analytically deconstruct them to find some joy or value in them. The same holds true for games. I also don't like the way Braid is held up as an example of an intellectual/art game. I beat it and I would argue that if we were to deconstruct it the way we would a novel, film or performance it'd have less artistic/academic/whatever-the-buzz-word-is merit to it than a more accessible game like Okami or Eternal Sonata.

A big problem in this debate is the tone people take with it. People are either dismissing games as dumb because they look don't look 'intellectual' enough or defending because intellectual ideas are apparently the antithesis of fun. Even if their conclusion (like this article's) is balanced, the unbalanced tone of the body of the argument still tends to lean dangerously close toward one of these two extremes.

Tl;dr - Smart =/= Not fun, Smart + Fun = Better Games.

For me, it's not so much about fun, but more about the memories the game generates. A generic game, will soon be forgotten, and that's why I'll hate it, I wasted time on something, that ultimately gave me nothing.

There are games, that I'll be able to discuss, that I've learned something from them, or I've appreciated how well they've immersed me. I'm not looking for intelligent games per se (it helps), I'm looking for good games. Games, that even after a few years from now on, I'll be able to look back in joy. But for a game to accomplish that, it has to transcend mediocrity, it has to transcend the fact that 'fun' is not enough. I enjoy a lot of things, but that doesn't mean I appreciate them, or look back on them fondly.

The problem with so-called 'dumb' games, it's not that they're dumb, it's that they're mediocre. They don't stand out, they're safe in every possible way and I resent most of AAA gaming for that. They don't create memorable experiences, they create instant gratification experiences, experiences that disappear as soon as I press 'exit'... and here's where the whole feeling of superiority/inferiority stems from me. Games should be more than a distraction, they should be experiences that allows us to transcend the boundaries that are set by reality, to immerse ourselves in something greater that the mediocrity we live each and every day, but if games replace one mediocrity, with another, what's the use?

Those high nosed people that refuse to play the simpler games... they likely aren't intellectuals at all. A true intellectual would at least see the simple fact that you don't have to be dumb to enjoy dumb things.

Hey! I got a theory! Maybe some of those people only play 'smart' games because they're too self conscious about their minuscule minds? You know, sort of like how people with small dicks drive big trucks. Or at least tend to.

BF3 is an amazing game, and it annoys me when people try to demean it, but, it disheartens me when people try to explain how deep it can be (it can be deep, anything can be deep) in a counterargument.

I'm enjoying the hell out of Tera right now. It's a game about tits and fighting shit. It's fun. It's as hard as you want to make it, and I do tryhard, and I do hold myself to a pride in that aspect too, so I'm not perfect, but at least I'm not one of those retards in chat that spam "dude that quest is soloable you noob" when someone puts a LFG/LFM request. Really, you smart, arrogant fuck? You're just so intelligent that you didn't consider the possibility that the person might be looking for a party because, maybe his class can't solo it, maybe he's undergeared, maybe he doesn't want to fight a single monster for 5 minutes, or maybe, just maybe, he actually needs help.

This problem is everywhere, and I can think of a million other examples that annoy me, but I'll leave the angry rant part of this post at that.

I'm just glad I'm not the only one who would rather play to have fun than for intellect-cred. Besides, I'm a firm believer that an experience is as intellectual as you want to make it. You could play through any of the Myst games, and be a complete moron/have no mental stimulation from it, and on the same note, could play through, I don't know, Bulletstorm, and have the opposite: complete mental stimulation as you strategize the best way to rack up points in it. Of course, with every rule, there's exceptions, and I can think of a few... but I'm not an arrogant highnosed prick, I swear-- it's just that their core design drastically limits player input and their options for expanding how much thought they can put in the game. No, I wasn't thinking of Farmville-- at least in that, if you really wanted to, you could set up a full blown business plan for your farm. Can, but likely won't.

Some great comments here all around, not a whole lot to add.

Planetside offered a better experience than Battlefield 3 ever did concerning a tank over a hill. I am not even going to bother to qualify this, believe what you want.

Getting good at something requires rigor... knowing things requires empirical investigation including quantifiable and reproducible results. It's an epistemological approach, and sadly... the heady days of lazy rationalism and a priori garbage... it's has become a tough sell, with a tiny audience, and shit pay.

The medium has changed, like many entertainment mediums have changed. The audience likes spectacle and immersion... so that is what'cha get. Battlefield 3 is absolutely amazing when it comes to this, but as a "game" it is not as good as it's predecessors. It is "technically" a superior product... but it's a sort'a "meh".

That's Ok. Think the same way about CoD. They are not "dumber" games, they are simply not as heavy on the "simulator/technical fidelity-as model" as games once where. They are much more arcade like. It's pinball not chess.

The days of plotting where one was going to build there railroad and how they could capitalize there own personal wealth to achieve a platinum award in Railroad Tycoon II are all but gone, gone and forgotten.

Different audience different expectations. It's not that he has gotten tired of games or that they are "dumber", it is that games, get tired of us. Time to move on.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SMhwddNQSWQ&feature=player_detailpage

A hint of stupidity admist intelligence isn't a bad thing.

I'm glad someone made this argument and in a way that doesn't come off as trying to demonize either side. Sure, games like Braid and Limbo probably are all that and a bag of chips; it just so happens that they don't seem that way to me. The same goes for the oft-touted SotC, Ico, and Psychonauts (and I really tried to get into that last one) - they simply don't appeal to me.

Twinmill5000:
I'm just glad I'm not the only one who would rather play to have fun then for intellect-cred. Besides, I'm a firm believer that an experience is as intellectual as you want to make it. You could play through any of the Myst games, and be a complete moron/have no mental stimulation from it, and on the same note, could play through, I don't know, Bulletstorm, and have the opposite: complete mental stimulation as you strategize the best way to rack up points in it.

Agreed. This is part of the reason why I prefer action and fighting games over, say, something like DA:O. The game itself is demanding I think on my toes lest I wanna get shot in the dick myself. With something turn-based or that features a "pause-and-play" mechanic I feel there's no challenge in the fact that if something goes wrong, you can simply wait for a lull or outright stop what's happening and "regroup", so to speak. That's not to say the games that feature such are out and out bad games, I just don't find them fun and they come off as more mentally exhausting than stimulating.

The problem is that we are discussing two kinds of the dumb without first establishing it. For example the dumb in things such as Gear of War is not a bad thing and never will be because it is smartly designed (not to say it's perfect) and as such deserved to be considered in the exact same light as braid which is The Smart designed just as well. There is no difference in the kind of enjoyment from either games it's just that The Smart games tend to be better designed which leads to more enjoyable expeirences. Dues Ex is an example of this when you consider the recent Syndicate as it's dumb counterpart.

But to get more to the point there is a terrible problem with being dumb but it's dumb in design not in concept. The DOA game's tit physics for example is a fucking travesty but fighting games themselves and even sexualised characters are not wrong in any way.

Combine smash puny tank! Rawr!

mfeff:
Some great comments here all around, not a whole lot to add.

Planetside offered a better experience than Battlefield 3 ever did concerning a tank over a hill. I am not even going to bother to qualify this, believe what you want.

Getting good at something requires rigor... knowing things requires empirical investigation including quantifiable and reproducible results. It's an epistemological approach, and sadly... the heady days of lazy rationalism and a priori garbage... it's has become a tough sell, with a tiny audience, and shit pay.

The medium has changed, like many entertainment mediums have changed. The audience likes spectacle and immersion... so that is what'cha get. Battlefield 3 is absolutely amazing when it comes to this, but as a "game" it is not as good as it's predecessors. It is "technically" a superior product... but it's a sort'a "meh".

That's Ok. Think the same way about CoD. They are not "dumber" games, they are simply not as heavy on the "simulator/technical fidelity-as model" as games once where. They are much more arcade like. It's pinball not chess.

The days of plotting where one was going to build there railroad and how they could capitalize there own personal wealth to achieve a platinum award in Railroad Tycoon II are all but gone, gone and forgotten.

Different audience different expectations. It's not that he has gotten tired of games or that they are "dumber", it is that games, get tired of us. Time to move on.

Actually... the medium hasn't changed much at all. Nor is CoD "not as heavy on the simulator/technical fidelity-as model as games once were" - There have always been and always will be simulator/technical fidelity games, and there have also always been less simulationist-like games.

Therumancer:
-snip-

I tried reading your posts... I really did... but the amount of ignorant elitism in there makes it really hard to understand. (Rule of thumb: anyone whining about how "casuals" are ruining the industry generally have their heads shoved too far up their asses to say anything credible) Have you actually even played the games you criticize so freely? You're chasing after problems that aren't even there: I've played a few "Serious" games, and there are even more serious games now than there used to be. Yes, a lot of franchises are looking to attract new players, but there are a lot of new franchises that get ignored by those they're trying to target.

Also... why the heck should "Adult-oriented" games be more "complex" than "child-friendly" ones. Games are about having fun. Kids can get into complex games just as easily (If not easier) than adults can - and not all adults have the time or inclination to waste time on a self-important game that's complex-for-complexities sake when they just want to relax and engage in mindless activities once they're back from adult responsibilities...

I think you really, really missed the point of this article: also, go watch Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Shore Leave"

Bealzibob:
The problem is that we are discussing two kinds of the dumb without first establishing it. For example the dumb in things such as Gear of War is not a bad thing and never will be because it is smartly designed (not to say it's perfect) and as such deserved to be considered in the exact same light as braid which is The Smart designed just as well. Their is not difference in the kind of enjoyment from either games it's just that The Smart games tend to be better designed which leads to more enjoyable expeirences. Dues Ex is an example of this when you consider the recent Syndicate as it's dumb counterpart.

But to get more to the point there is a terrible problem with being dumb but it's dumb in design not in concept. The DOA game's tit physics for example is a fucking travesty but fighting games themselves and even sexualised characters are not wrong in any way.

How is gratuitous animation in a gratuitous fighting game a travesty? It's not like you don't know what you're getting into when you buy it. Unless there's an actual problem in the tit-physics.

"Ken Levine didn't set out to make a game about Randian Objectivism that would become another Exhibit A in the games as art debate. He wanted to make a kick-ass shooter. The game's thematic content flowed from the design process, and we got BioShock."

I'm pretty sure the correct assertion is that he wanted to make a good shooter about Randian Objectivism. It's what the entire game is built around; that doesn't just slip out of the design process naturally. (And if you mean something else then by all means correct me, but otherwise that statement just seems quite poorly thought out.)

And there's very little point in extending this argument to multi-player games. Whilst a very large portion of single-player games lend themselves to being compared with films and literature, the very vast majority of multi-player games bear closer resemblance to paintball.

The problem with 'dumb' games is that most of them are atrociously designed. Thor is not a film that's going to challenge any particularly intellectual ideas, but it's well acted, directed, and written, and it looks good. It has production values - care has been taken over it. Uncharted 2 is probably a good game comparison, actually. The problem with something like Call of Duty as a 'dumb' game is that it's fairly shoddily designed - it doesn't do scripting well (and yet does an awful fucking lot of it), my arse hole is prettier, and it's writing is incoherent.

Likewise, a lot of games make a fairly insultingly-small use of the medium's inherent strengths, because their project leads are wannabe film-makers who didn't make the cut; that's certainly a portion of what people are talking about when they're derisive towards 'dumb' games (I think Blow said as much in that interview, too). *Rambles on about the death of Immersive Sims until his eyes explode*

Scow2:

mfeff:
-snip

Actually... the medium hasn't changed much at all. Nor is CoD "not as heavy on the simulator/technical fidelity-as model as games once were" - There have always been and always will be simulator/technical fidelity games, and there have also always been less simulationist-like games.

It's funny you bring this up. Recently entered into framing a debate as to how the "medium" is not "young" as some internet folk have alluded (extra credits, campster, to name two).

To qualify what I said, or add a little clarity... looking at the Rainbow Six series, it is apparent that the mechanics of the game shifted dramatically from it's early PC iterations to the console versions. Don't confuse what I am saying as being "a death of the tactical game", such as a recent video from this guy would pronounce.

There is still the offerings of Bohemia interactive, and certainly Crytek support military grade simulations today. What I mean to say is that as a general public offering that the medium HAS shifted from the "technical fidelity or simulator aspects" as a marketing avenue to that of the spectacle.

Further I would note that the advertising campaigns for Black Ops, and similar I.P. do insist on the tactical or stealth natures of the content, which nothing could be further from the truth. Not good or bad, but debate-ably unrepresentative of what is in the box.

That as audience, it is pretty clear as to what is attractive and what is perhaps not so attractive to make as an offering in retail. No doubt about it, it looks great, so does Battlefield 3. However, they are not simulations in the technical sense. Nor by definition qualifiers such as:

"Key issues in simulation include acquisition of valid source information about the relevant selection of key characteristics and behaviours, the use of simplifying approximations and assumptions within the simulation, and fidelity and validity of the simulation outcomes."

The above is generally not a first priority concern in current development that I have experienced with retail products.

It's not good, it's not bad, but it is "different". If you feel differently then lets discuss it.

"Actually" by itself is not much of an argument. Unless you have somewhere to take the conversation, or some point that I may not of considered. "Nor is CoD such and thus", explain how I am wrong, explain how it models combat either with your own personal experience or foiled with military simulations as a benchmark. I claim that it cannot be termed as a simulation of any particular fidelity as it has little to none of the values typically associated with simulations of high fidelity.

Anecdotal as a licensed flight instructor I am able to use a "game" such as IL-2 and teach some aspects of flight, such as pattern work, instrumentation, procedure. This is not possible in Battlefield 3, not even close. It would be irresponsible on my part to even make that claim.

To bring it back on track it is to say that there is a decided reduction in tangential information that one may acquire playing games today as opposed to offerings some years back. As you said, it "is" available, but it is not nearly as common. Difference. Further that one has fun playing thus and such, is not something that is debatable, that one has learned anything that translates from the game experience to the real world is quite testable. Let's put it to the test.

The argument for me, is a marked reduction of information one may reflect on after the experience, a quantifiable new perspective. Modern games are often times, an experience, that lacks a perspective. It's cotton candy. Tasty but hollow. One doesn't learn anything much outside of the game itself.

As an example:

image

Falcon 3.0 Manual - One cannot be successful at this title, without having of learned something about aviation, operational envelopes, instrumentation... ahh the list goes on and on. It's impossible to say otherwise.

Yes, it is an unfair comparison, but NOT if it's advertising or fan base wishes to lay claim otherwise. Claims requires evidence.

you reminded me of that one guy who managed to emergency land a plane based on what he knew from microsoft flight simulator

but still, just play what you want, i'll be disgusted by facebook cow clickers designed solely for money and attention but i can't stop you from playing them

weirdguy:
you reminded me of that one guy who managed to emergency land a plane based on what he knew from microsoft flight simulator

but still, just play what you want, i'll be disgusted by facebook cow clickers designed solely for money and attention but i can't stop you from playing them

Well, as I mentioned, I am licensed by the Federal government to train individuals to emergency land aircraft. However, when I was much younger I was certainly influenced to pursue this aspect of life by the availability of quality simulators. Well before I sought after flight instruction I had logged hundreds of hours on various simulators. The instruction then could be applied in the game to reinforce the lessons and build real world skills. They are compatible, they are not equivalent.

As far as cow clicker, it's an interesting study in psychology especially how it relates to self masturbatory patterns. I would not play them (outside of testing), certainly I would design them or build them into other designs and products to drive repetitive human action.

That said, we are clearly able to see this design apparent in achievements, various counters, and other meaningless metrics and stat counting devices. This website utilizes the device. Cow clicker simply illustrates the obviousness of the design and the lack of a need to hide what it is. It's a sad commentary on the human condition if one lets it bother them.

I deeply question it's utility to drive human interaction in any meaningful way. It tends to encourage a sort of grind which results in a plateau learning or degraded human performance. It's great for fleecing people though. Oldest grift in the newest way I suppose, like the vast majority of the shit being discussed.

I'd rather be smart and miserable than dumb and content.

Mostly because I already am that way.

In a world where the intellectual is vilified, this seems like it doesn't need to be said.

Dastardly:

I see it with musicians, since that's my field. Plenty of performers love to let people talk about "talent" and being "gifted," because it lends this air of inaccessible mystery to what they do. You'll hear very few talk about how they got good by putting in hours and hours of hard work specifically targeted at getting better at it from a very early age. And you'll rarely ever hear one mention the dreaded "luck."

On a similar note, it's really annoying that people put stock in me for years of music theory and comp classes over the years I spent practicing, performing and interpreting music. The former's all well and good, but the latter really should give me more validity.

Also, based on the quote you replied to:

I am capable of breaking down complex thought into fairly simple ideas. The problems being both that you shouldn't always have to and some thoughts simply aren't simple in the first place.

I did say "always," just for the record. I have no problem doing it most of the time, but....

Zachary Amaranth:
In a world where the intellectual is vilified, this seems like it doesn't need to be said.

In many cases, though, people aren't vilifying intellectualism. A lot of times, they're just vilifying those who are deliberately confusing or obtuse, for the express purpose of seeming intellectual. If I'm talking to someone about theoretical physics, and I'm using a lot of terminology with no explanation, I'm not being helpful.

If I then use his lack of "understanding" to scoff at how dumb he is, I'm just a dick. It's entirely possible he could understand what I'm saying. He just doesn't have the background knowledge that I'm using in my explanation. You would be right to vilify me in that case.

(And there are, admittedly, people who don't see the value in many intellectual pursuits because they are quite near-sighted. And yes, they lash out at intellectuals in the same way someone who can't dance would call dancing 'stupid and gay' to make themselves feel better about not being able to do it)

On a similar note, it's really annoying that people put stock in me for years of music theory and comp classes over the years I spent practicing, performing and interpreting music. The former's all well and good, but the latter really should give me more validity.

Depends on the context. If someone is looking to assess you, they're going to tend to go by your credentials and documented training. They're looking for independent verification that you know what you're talking about. If someone is judging a particular work, it's right for them to judge the work on its own merit -- this is a place where I very much agree that people go nuts.

If I draw a stick figure with my feet, no one is going to pay $10,000 for it. But if some famous artist were to do so, even if it looked identical, someone somewhere would herald it as the most stirring image they've ever seen. They're judging the art based on how they feel about the artist. This is a problem, and it runs in reverse as well.

People should not judge the quality of a particular work on how well-trained you are. But if you're looking for, say, a job teaching others, I think it's acceptable to look at your documentation.

I am capable of breaking down complex thought into fairly simple ideas. The problems being both that you shouldn't always have to and some thoughts simply aren't simple in the first place.

I did say "always," just for the record. I have no problem doing it most of the time, but....

You should always consider your audience. If you're talking to people that don't have the background that you do, it's your job to make it clear. It's not their job to spontaneously generate knowledge that you're assuming they have, and they shouldn't have to go home and do homework in the middle of your explanation.

mfeff:

That was a really interesting video (Not saying I agree; you made a solid argument against the death of the tactical shooter).

Hopefully, you don't feel I'm missing the larger point here, but I just wanted to comment.

Because smart means you can't play smart in a simple mouthbreather game like BF3.
image
Really? Fucking really?

Listen. The fact that you derive enjoyment out of Limbo over... anything, doesn't speak anything of your intelligence. It's an artistic game. So? Are you really, at that point as a gamer where you need to play games to show off your sophisticated tastes? Or are you so detached from what thinking actually is, and can you not make the simple connection that the word smart -as in a person's general intellect- is, well fuck, a wide word, and cannot be constrained to any particular subject in particular? Do you really not get the fact most 'CoD Retards' actually see? The fact that gaming isn't the only, nor is it a major indicator of how smart someone is. Then I feel sorry for you, because you're like that guitarist who just discovered sweeping, has no comprehension of music theory, how to set up a guitar, how to produce music, or obviously, how to write music, and only listens to music with sweet solos dude, only sweeps, and only shows off his tremendous skill (which he learned in about 30 combined hours) to the world and omg he's so smart!

Dastardly:

Zachary Amaranth:
In a world where the intellectual is vilified, this seems like it doesn't need to be said.

In many cases, though, people aren't vilifying intellectualism. A lot of times, they're just vilifying those who are deliberately confusing or obtuse, for the express purpose of seeming intellectual. If I'm talking to someone about theoretical physics, and I'm using a lot of terminology with no explanation, I'm not being helpful.

The difficulty with this statement is that a discussion upon theoretical physics outside of a science curriculum or industrial setting begs a certain credulity in and of itself. Peer to peer it is nothing more than a discussion over tea and cake. Having a discussion that is vertical in it's relationship between the speaker and the audience, is an education, and one may say, "what is one's credentials to discuss thus and such".

Having no credentials then is approximate to speculation, speculation without knowledge and experience is either speaking to beliefs or parroting a current loose approximate or informal proof, but cannot be considered knowledge. Speaking to a thing in this manner as if it were a theory is by definition, pretentious.

Not that you do this, but we all abuse logic and reason in our day to day activities, many times without even knowing it... perhaps it's enculturated?

-snip

The art comment is interesting and one I hear a lot in commercial art circles. Sometimes referred to as the "blue square". That is to say that it became apparent to dealers that offering statements about a product (the blue square) one could engender a certain (shrug) false belief as to the products perceived value. (Encouraged speculation).

By doing this the dealer is able to much more quickly generate product to turn and burn for however long it last. A mild form of social engineering. Ultimately to escape this post modern relativism, a reboot of personal interpretation and value systems is required. Maybe it is this very process that is being described as the intellectual elitism?

I think of it as this...

Most people are quick to point out the things that most preoccupy themselves. The entitled call others entitled, the pretentious call others pretentious. A guilt by association.

People are simple, their ideas even more so. Complexity is simply the simple repeated many times over. If it becomes obtuse, likely it is a misappropriated association with either the speaker or the audience. A false belief, a poorly recalled experience, a strong emotion; over-riding reason.

Coming back to this article, there appears to be quite a bit of work for both Mr. Scimeca to detail (this wont be happening - it's an opinion, not a debate), or Taylor Clark to expound upon specific details as to what is actually "dumb" in the hobby that was not dumb at some previous time frame.

Considering this, and that little to no knowledge is gained one way or the other, it's not philosophic, or educational... just entertainment... leisure... dumb.

If any critic wants to make a medium better their first job is to educate and inspire discussion. Otherwise it's all just self-aggrandizement and mental masturbation. - The damn article

As we have just discussed, educating to an audience begs credulity as to the qualifications of that person whom would be conducting the lecture. Ergo, it is all just self-aggrandizement and mental masturbation... by the gods what a word smith.

Scow2:

Bealzibob:

But to get more to the point there is a terrible problem with being dumb but it's dumb in design not in concept. The DOA game's tit physics for example is a fucking travesty but fighting games themselves and even sexualised characters are not wrong in any way.

How is gratuitous animation in a gratuitous fighting game a travesty? It's not like you don't know what you're getting into when you buy it. Unless there's an actual problem in the tit-physics.

The problem with retardedly overdesigned tit physics is that it brings no worth what so ever to the game because the sexualisation isn't part of the game and your characters arn't particularly better for it, it brings no improvment to the gameplay unless they make a character who fights entirely by whipping her tits back and forth. All the remains is an actually dumb design decision that wastes players time, designers time and the industries time for no betterment for anyone. It's the difference in a sense between Mad World and Gears of War (though GoW still fails a little from this problem).

Zachary Amaranth:

mfeff:

That was a really interesting video (Not saying I agree; you made a solid argument against the death of the tactical shooter).

Hopefully, you don't feel I'm missing the larger point here, but I just wanted to comment.

Not my video, I just provided it to illustrate a point; one I felt is critical to design perspective and initiatives.

As I mentioned Arma is an excellent take on the subject and one I highly recommend. I propose that sometimes a "lack" of immediacy as it relates to the combat environment is just as important as having combat back-to-back-to-back. It makes combat a punctuation mark, rather than the script. Nothing more nothing less. Play them both, play all of them.

I have a particular fondness for very early alpha and beta planetside. It was great in it's day, in spite of it's progression design.

Twinmill5000:
Because smart means you can't play smart in a simple mouthbreather game like BF3.
image
Really? Fucking really?

-snip

Really brief critique, it's hard to know which way or at whom this statement was headed... quotes help. I have played BF3 both casually and with a fairly serious clan in matches.

That said, my own personal issues with BF3 are as follows:

Overly simplified map designs, the maps are focused on forcing players into poorly defense-able areas, this is clearly to force players to engage repeatedly and quickly. Death and respawn being the focus here. Mortars and rockets... weee fun.

They are also very small. Again, this is to force a sort of zerg point capture mentality and is a focus shift from BF2 and 1942.

The recent expansion again focuses on close quarters combat, which is just a reinforcement of the same old thing. Several maps destroy any sense of "skill" or "immediacy" that the series was known for. A step back, or sideways... you make the call.

Exploitable kits and progression, this focuses on repeat play and grinding out kits, the kits themselves, especially vehicle perks lock out and muddle a "good player", from a player with a high kit access. Large machine gun support kits with 1x night vision scopes are simply garbage.

Its always been true of the series, but it is pronounced in BF3.

Marginal aircraft controls. Self explanatory. The aircraft in general have a very sloppy feel which is fine, but it is clear it is for the console.

On the plus side... it looks great. But I said that... several times. It's immersive as hell. Great, said that to. One's choice in ones entertainment de'jure is no qualitative metric for assessing someones intelligence or education level. FFS I alpha tested it all the way to release, and own two copies... I also hold 3 college degrees and several government licenses including security clearances.

It's still a casual friendly game, designed specifically, not round a bout' ly, not unintentionally, but SPECIFICALLY, EXPLICITLY to compete in the CoD marketplace... look at the box FFS, "Beyond the Call"... that didn't get on there by mistake.

By all accounts, the franchise was dumbed down for this very purpose. Battlefield in general is more entertainment than it is a serious title with something meaningful to say or teach. I like it on it's terms.

Lets not ponce around about it. This shit ain't art. It's entertaining sure. But it's dumb, so is limbo. These are games, toys, entertainment. Nothing more, nothing less.

As far as music goes, I play the piano, write music, and am versed in music, both mathematical theory and the physics of instrumentation. So what. That said, I am no artist in the practice of play, pretty mediocre... come to think about it. But I don't claim anything other than what I can prove.

It's greatest critique in my opinion is that there is little to nothing in the way of anything useful one gains from the experience of playing Battlefield 3. Nor does anything that one brings from the outside in change or improve the experience much. It's a locked experience. It's cotton candy. Tasty, but empty. Like porn. Like a lot of things.

Play them all, become a porn connoisseur. Experience them all, make a quantitative distinction. That is what a hobby is all about.

Looking at this article a second time...

Who wants to divorce themselves from their passion for videogames?

What does this mean?

If that's what an erudite assessment of the intellectual potential of the videogame medium necessitates, I fail to see why the pursuit is held up as a virtue.

It's virtue is in establishing an empirical approach to the subject. It's an investigation, not an appeal to emotion, or one's unjustified bias.

It allows one to compare apples to apples and oranges to oranges, not apples "Black Ops Stealth" sold as stealth on the box, to oranges "Thief II", a stealth game.

And isn't objective assessment of art generally accepted as an impossibility by thoughtful critics of any creative medium?

Only if one allows the idea that it "IS" art to be introduced to the dialog. These are commercial products that utilize industrial design techniques for the purpose of profit in a retail market. They are not created as meaningful expressions, they are not "let's make some art today".

EA are not purveyors of fine art. Nor is the audience.

If these things are art at all, it's an emergent quality, implicit not necessarily sufficient to make the claim as being sufficient to "being art".

an end all around us in 5.1 digital sound and shells are exploding into the ground

Audio engineering is exceptional. These things are done on computers. That a computer game has them... is well... it's a computer. It is very high on immersion. So is porno.

In the best of cases, artists create what they want because they want to, or because those are the ideas that develop organically.

That's nice, but commercial videos games are not developed this way. This further illustrates the slippery slope diatribe as "video games as art".

The game's thematic content flowed from the design process, and we got BioShock

Cool story bro.

The concept artist for Bioshock, a Mr. Feng Zhu, has discussed the developmental process of this and games in general in this video.

This is not a pretentious or off base video, it is the guy who drew all the shit in the game, speaking... enjoy.

An indictment of the dumb also feels like an indictment of what it is to be human.

Sure why not, humans are evolved animals... nothing special.

The best course of action is to continue throwing a spotlight on the game developers and their games that fit whatever criteria for smart is being described, and to throw that spotlight sans the mud-slinging toward everyone else.

Nice point. How about a discussion on how games are developed? Let's research it.

Ahh well enough fun for one night.

tautologico:

Dastardly:
Unfortunately not. That's their second job. Their first job is to ensure they still have the second job. You don't do that by de-mystifying your profession. The same thing is true of developers, writers, athletes, artists...

This may be true with some people, but it's just dumb.

In the musician's case, even if he/she did tell how they got good, few people would actually be willing to invest that many hours into getting good at something.

As someone who does research and teaching on highly technical fields involving mathematics and other stuff, I truly believe almost anyone can learn advanced mathematics, but very few actually want to learn it, unfortunately. I also don't think that explaining how to do it ("well, you just study it") reduced the mystique surrounding people who are extremely good at what they do, so you can explain it all you want.

Can't agree more. De-mystifying something you excel at for others does not suddenly mean that anyone can or will do it. I could be taught as much about computer programming as John Carmack and put in as much time doing it has he's done in his like, but it doesn't mean I'll do it as well as him. More importantly, how many people will do that? De-mystifying your profession may help a relative handful more people who wouldn't have excelled in it suddenly better and more successful at it, but that's about it. Everyone who wants to go down that road will get better which isn't really a bad thing, but those that do want to go down that road will not necessarily be many just because the topic and path to success is better understood.

Ugh, I feel like I didn't explain that well at all. It's probably time for bed.

Vivi22:

tautologico:

Dastardly:
Unfortunately not. That's their second job. Their first job is to ensure they still have the second job. You don't do that by de-mystifying your profession. The same thing is true of developers, writers, athletes, artists...

snip

snip

Ugh, I feel like I didn't explain that well at all. It's probably time for bed.

Ars longa, vita brevis

Hippocrates "the art is long"

Medicine is of all the Arts the most noble; but, owing to the ignorance of those who practice it, and of those who, inconsiderately, form a judgment of them, it is at present far behind all the other arts.

Nice post guy.

Here's Forbes Take on the matter: http://www.forbes.com/sites/davidthier/2012/05/01/if-you-think-most-games-are-dumb-youre-playing-them-wrong/

Honestly, I agree with both articles (It's OK to be Dumb, and the Forbes one)

From "It's OK": I feel that a lot of the Games are Art crowd forget that the medium is also entertainment. Sure games like Skyrim and Total War don't have the artistic value of things like Journey, but they don't have to (and are you really going to call Total War dumb?). There are countless activities that lack cerebral engagement. That doesn't devalue them, it just means they have different functions. Dismissing these games because they go for a different sort of engagement is asinine.

From Forbes: Couldn't really agree more with this one. The biggest problem I have with a lot of the Games are Art crowd is they want games to adhere to the same rules as other mediums. This is completely forgetting that the other mediums are completely different from each other.

You don't judge a book on the same grounds you judge a sculpture. You don't judge a picture the same way you do a movie. So why would you judge a game on the same grounds you do the rest.

I mean, really, is the Mona fucking Lisa devalued because it has no coherent narrative?

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