2D Boy: Gaming Hasn't Seen a True "Masterpiece"

 Pages 1 2 3 NEXT
 

2D Boy: Gaming Hasn't Seen a True "Masterpiece"

image

The creator of World of Goo doesn't think we've seen a gaming masterpiece yet, but he has a plan so we can someday.

2D Boy co-founder Ron Carmel spoke at the Montreal International Games Summit this week where he formulated an idea for the videogame industry to create truly amazing titles. In his opinion, a gaming "masterpiece" hasn't yet been developed, but it's possible if the bigger fish in the industry set aside a percentage of their budgets for videogame "concept cars."

It's actually a very clever idea. Carmel proposes the creation of medium-sized studios whose funding is allocated partially for the purpose of "risk-taking." He believes that "creating this within a major developer doesn't present a problem," and could be made up of around 10 developers with a budget in the area of $2 million.

Carmel compared this kind of studio to the small groups within car manufacturers that create concept cars as "a marketing expense" that builds the company image. "There's no reason the larger game companies can't do that," he thinks. These groups would operate in a similar way to that of independent developers, which usually create a product going by vision rather than the desire for wads of cash to inflate their pockets. If a game in this situation didn't earn money, it wouldn't lead to the termination of creative people that did a good job regardless.

Carmel wants these gaming concept cars to be developed so that the industry can advance from its current position. The best big budget titles and smaller indie titles have been "great works" in Carmel's opinion, but he doesn't think we've "seen a masterpiece of video games" yet. Using television show The Wire as an example of what media can do at its best, Carmel compared it to videogames and said they've never been as "expressive as the great works of film, television, literature."

Though Sony studios like Team Ico have developed titles such as Shadow of the Colossus that come close to perfection, Carmel believes that funds set aside for experimentation without the focus on profitability would advance the integration of choice into the "emotional landscape" of media in a masterful way more quickly. Interestingly, Carmel actually splits the industry not between independent developers and larger publishers, but by "design" versus "commercial." When the practice of design can become the focus rather than the practice of earning profit, we may see games that genuinely wrench our hearts out of our chests or make us uncontrollably applaud at a television screen for no good reason. For a company like Activision Blizzard that brings in $745 million per year, why not set a little of that aside to see what can be done?

Source: Gamasutra

Permalink

Nice idea. Financially, it's unsound though.

People with money got that way by not taking risks.

I think we have seen a "masterpiece." It's called World of Goo.

Sounds like a good idea and to be honest, it's needed as a lot of older gamers are fed up playing the same game year after year.
Shadow of the Colossus was damn good although not quite sure it's the 'Blade Runner' of gaming which is desperately needed.

It's fantastic to hear someone cite The Wire as a pinnacle of fiction. That show deserves some goddamn recognition -- and he's absolutely right that gaming has come nowhere near that level of sophistication. SotC is fantastic, and probably my favorite game of all time, but if The Wire is The Mona Lisa, SotC is a dimly-scribbled cave drawing in the rough shape of a hand.

What's so damn great about 'The Wire'...?

Many people consider The Wire to be the best program ever to air on American television. Watch it and you'll understand why. It makes shows like Lost and Battlestar Galactica look like Scooby Doo.

I dunno. Personally, I think Half-Life 2 might qualify as the Mona Lisa of gaming - and continuing with my love for Valve, Portal might just be a Picasso of gaming; strange, unique, and a masterpiece.

More on-topic, though, I like the idea (even if it does seem a little unrealistic). Original, risky ideas seem to be good for the industry as a whole.

Activision is in the perfect place to try new and interesting things. They have the juggernaught that is WoW bringing in about $170,000,000 USD a month and the millions from the COD franchise.

And what do they do with this money? Use it to push out sequel after sequel and other crappy, one-note games. Usually movie tie-ins.

It would be great if they did this. But I doubt they would. Which is a shame, because it may get people to stop seeing games as kids toys. Not a lot, but any amount is good.

teknoarcanist:
What isn't great about The Wire? It's a perfect encapsulation of crime, poverty, politics, and the crumbling infrastructure of the modern American City. It's also probably the best use of episodic format I've ever seen. (Makes Lost look like Scooby Doo. Hell, even something like Mad Men feels a little cardboard-y by comparison...)

Really? I've heard next to nothing about it till this news story... Maybe I'll check it out then.

teknoarcanist:
Many people consider The Wire to be the best program ever to air on American television. Watch it and you'll understand why.

I liked your first response better, lol...

I think we need gaming to be accepted as an entertainment medium before we can get a masterpiece. But that is a great idea, if only we could actually get it. More Shadow of the Colossus and Minecraft experiments, less Call of Duty remakes and clones.

They need to do a game that crosses Ookami with SotC successfully, and then we will have our masterpiece.

Bobby Kotick, if you do this, ALL is forgiven.

I agree that World of Goo might be or is at least very close to being a masterpiece. I don't cite Valve games because, while great games, they don't really advance the humanity of the art. What does HL2 say? What does Portal say about being a person? Nothing that other media have not ignored.

I personally feel like Minecraft is headed in the right direction... a set of rules defines what makes a game. Nearly everyone has the same first Night in Minecraft... evoking fear and excitement and curiosity... the rules of the game, not scripted sequences or narrative, evoke these emotions--that is the true use of gaming--where the ruleset and logic of the design evoke real emotion, not scripted sequences or narratives.

Tom Goldman:
Carmel compared it to videogames and said they've never been as "expressive as the great works of film, television, literature."

Games will never be taken seriously as Art until gamers, critics and the industry alike drop this line of reasoning.

Portal is Art, SotC is Art, and I could list others. To dismiss them as somehow not worthy because they don't deliver the same kind of experience as a non-interactive medium is idiotic and speaks volumes about the inferiority complex the industry suffers from.

Start judging games as games first and last. Otherwise it's like dismissing a novel because the reader doesn't have any control over the direction of the story.

The_root_of_all_evil:
Nice idea. Financially, it's unsound though.

People with money got that way by not taking risks.

To tell you the truth, it's the other way around. People with money are either born with it, or took a risk and had it pay off. Risk and reward.

People with money stay that way by not taking risks.

ProfessorLayton:
I think we have seen a "masterpiece." It's called World of Goo.

LOL, actually some PC gamers have seen more than one. There are two games: Pathologic and The Void, both games by the Russian indie studio Ice Pick Lodge. Truly great games, though the most hard and stressful ones as well, you know, just like everything is.

Fuckin awesome idea.

Khaiseri:

ProfessorLayton:
I think we have seen a "masterpiece." It's called World of Goo.

LOL, actually some PC gamers have seen more than one. There are two games: Pathologic and The Void, both games by the Russian indie studio Ice Pick Lodge. Truly great games, though the most hard and stressful ones as well, you know, just like everything is.

Oh I love the void.

I've still not completed it.

Basically everything I was told in the game was a lie. So I found it increasingky hard to play. XD

I just haven't had the strength t start a new game yet.

But yes.

If there ever was a work of art in gaming. That's it.

ProfessorLayton:
I think we have seen a "masterpiece." It's called World of Goo.

While I do love World of Goo to bits, calling it a masterpiece is a bit of a stretch. Sure it may be when compared to other video games, but when compared to other forms of media, not so much. Of course video games are a much younger medium, so it's only to be expected that it hasn't yet produced something that can stand up to them. I would argue that the industry is certainly making progress though.

I bet if Activision took Carmel's advice, it'd do a lot of good towards repairing the tarnished reputation they have in many gamer's eyes. I think they have more than enough money to go for it to.

righthanded:

I personally feel like Minecraft is headed in the right direction... a set of rules defines what makes a game. Nearly everyone has the same first Night in Minecraft... evoking fear and excitement and curiosity... the rules of the game, not scripted sequences or narrative, evoke these emotions--that is the true use of gaming--where the ruleset and logic of the design evoke real emotion, not scripted sequences or narratives.

I don't know about Minecraft, but I do know that Dwarf Fortress has spawned some incredibly creative pieces of writing due to the emotions players experience when playing the game in their own way. I imagine this is somewhat similar to what you were saying with Minecraft.

So, they're basically indie games, except with proper funding and skilled developers at the helm?

Sounds pretty win-win to me. Somebody make this happen.

I think he is absolutely true, no video game has really come close to achieving "Citizen Kane" status, or "A Clockwork Orange", or "Bladerunner", or "Shindler's List" status, or any other number of hugely influential movies. Sure, Shadow of the Collosus was great n' all, but it did not have such a worldwide impact and unfortunately remains a cult classic rather than a reknowned work of art.

But before we can get the "Citizen Kane" of gaming, we need the "Orson Wells" of gaming. *coughMecough* There needs to be that one game that transcends "just a game" status in the eyes of the public and truly transforms gaming into a well respected artform. I doubt it'll happen over night, and in fact it may take several games like that, but I am truely confident that somewhere, someday, someone is going to rise up to the challenge.

*ehem....me? perhaps? Seriously, I know what I'm doing, I swear!

This sounds like a really exciting idea. A company that has no other motivation than to make the best, most creative game they can? I'm all for it, and hopefully this sort of idea takes off and from it, bigger companies can adopt these ideas and they can build off of eachother into some truly outstanding concepts.

I feel as if a gaming "masterpiece" can only be defined by the person playing the game themselves. Sure you have to consider all the technicalities within the entire game, however, over 15 years ago you could have called "Super Metroid" a masterpiece. Hell, I love SotC with all my heart, and it definetly lives under my gaming masterpieces. But so does Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2. I enjoy those games down to the last pixel-y cell.

I could go on with a list of my favorites that I cherish more than anything. Some people will call the original 'Halo' a masterpiece. However I could disagree since I grew up playing Quake and Unreal Tourney. But I'm sure they're are few out there who could claim that 'Castlevania: Circle of the Moon' for GBA is a golden egg (and yes that's preferred over Symphony of the Night).

The point is, it's all your taste. Also your choice of genre is another factor. I dislike fighting games, no matter how much technical perfection is sunk into one to make it 'everyone' friendly as possible, I just don't find them entertaining.

Art is made to move emotions and senses by placing elements together to create an experience for an individual. And any art can be considered a "masterpiece." It is all in the eye of the beholder.

*On another note, I've been playing "Amnesia:The Dark Descent" lately and I may bump it up to my masterpieces collection, just because it's so immersive and really touches your senses.

Obviously he's free to voice his own perspective, but I think it's slightly presumptuous to say we haven't seen a masterpiece yet. In my opinion, the games of my childhood (Fallout, Baldur's Gate, Silent Hill among many others) were all masterpieces of their time. Even some modern-day games are masterpieces in my view (Bioshock, Red Dead Redemption to name a couple). It could, after all, just be that I have an extremely lax view on what a masterpiece is, but those games absorbed me utterly in their universe. Isn't that all we should really ask of a game?

Teeth Kicker:
I feel as if a gaming "masterpiece" can only be defined by the person playing the game themselves.

Yes yes yes! To say that gaming has yet to see a masterpiece is crap in my opinion. We've had many games whose stories have touched people and gameplay mechanics that have wowed them into a state of necrosis. Just to name a few that I would consider masterpieces:

- Final Fantasy VI, VII, IX, XII, and Tactics
- Shadow of the Colossus
- Portal
- The Baldur's Gate Series
- Knights of the Old Republic 2
- Arcanum
- Fallout
- Gothic
- Planescape: Torment

There are probably more that I've played, but those are a few off the top of my head. Planescape: Torment was so good that it pretty much made me reevaluate a lot of things in life. If something we used to consider children's toys as a medium can do that, then it is a freaking masterpiece. Just because the industry is saturated with shovelware doesn't mean that it hasn't even produced an amazing product.

Also, even if people claim the staying power of films like Citizen Kane, I guarantee you that a majority of modern audiences haven't seen it. Claiming that gaming doesn't have such a game is no standard to measure its quality. It mostly depends on the genre, but in my opinion if we had to choose our Citizen Kane, I think many would cling to Final Fantasy VII or Baldur's Gate 2.

I appreciate the desire to continue evolving and improving games, but I find it slightly ignorant to say that gaming isn't yet on par with films, books, and television because of such broad subjective statements.

What a ridiculous and presumptuous concept. While we all may differ on what constitutes a masterpiece, as people do in any artistic field, there have been games that soared far above and beyond their peers to attain that status.

I think this is a very good idea, and financially sound as well - at worst the big developer can write it off a advertising expense, better yet, a game developed in such a way might be a break out success (especially the first few as they will recieve extra media attention). Innovations developed in these "art-house" games may also find their way into the blockbuster titles. It will also keep the industry healthy, you can't have a whole industry of wanabe blockbusters (which unfortunately is what Hollywood is attempting at the moment), you need low and midrange projects as well - a particularly artistic or story-rich experience will help sell such titles in place of prohibitively expensive production values.

I do think one thing holding back videogames from being regarded as art is the lack of auteur recognition. Videogames like film are a collaborative medium (traditional art and literature are distinctly not), film managed to find it's auteurs in the director (and as a result the director's role is actually a little overstated in the popular consciousness). The closest we've seen to this in games is probably Sid Meier and Shigeru Miyamoto (and even he is probably more akin to a Stan Lee figure than a Stanley Kubrick). That's not to say they're aren't other prominant names, who've arguably had even bigger impact like John Carmac, but they do not have the auteur reputation. Until a recognised videogame auteur arises I don't think the medium will recieve the critical attention it deserves.

On a personal note, to me the Mass Effect series is a masterpiece.

I disagree with the 2D Boy man, i don't believe we will see a masterpiece of gaming just because you throw millions or billions of dollars after designers, i highly doubt that the things he considers master pieces had Avatar or Starcraft 2 like budgets. On that note i dont believe that there is masterpieces at all mostly because by the very definition of the word masterpiece is something every person should make sure to be critical about which is critical acclaim, which more or less means that someone else is saying this is a masterpiece and you should accept that because i know what a masterpiece is (possible thats not entirely head on but i may have looked up a wrong definition of the word then).

Point being that "masterpiece" is in the eye of the beholder as said above.
In my eyes and probably a lot of other gamers Portal could be one such game, its very critical acclaimed and we've all heard a "the cake is a lie" reference outside of the game by now. But believe it or not there are also people who don't like Portal, or haven't even seen or heard of it yet. On that note, maybe its something everyone should know, like the Mona Lisa painting(possibly a Masterpiece, although i've seen more interesting art in a 5th grade special kids class) then World of Warcraft comes to mind, not that everyone likes it or it being as critically acclaimed as other games but maybe besides pacman, tetris and mario its one of the few games that most people in world have heard,seen, read or even played.

All in all, do we need a masterpiece of gaming? What would be the point, what is really the point of calling anything a masterpiece of the world? Let masterpiece be the original intent, a designers best product, then sure i can agree that some tv shows, movies, music and art are masterpieces of that designer, but certainly it wouldn't be the masterpiece in everyones mind. Although could you live with the thought that even Uwe Boll would have a masterpiece (possibly the movie of his that is the least amount of bad) on second thought, lets just drop the word masterpiece completely, stick to Classic.

This is why I play old games. Old games had both design and profit in mind, compare to now where we only have profit in mind. It really shows when you go back to around the 2000 era of gaming.

Now this is a guy who knows what he's doing.

Half-Life 2
LoZ: OOT
Goldeneye

All three of those are masterpieces to me, and frankly that's all that matters in my mind.

Nifty but highly unlikely. To see someone put aside money and try to put forward a "Noble" endeavor is extremely low.

This guy hasn't played Warcraft 3.

 Pages 1 2 3 NEXT

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Register for a free account here