In response to “A God Among Insects” from The Escapist Forum: I will admit that I never played with ants as a kid, and that was mostly due to the fact that I am an insectaphobe. However, I agree with the fact that the micro scale is far more interesting that the macro. That is why the Sims was so much more popular than SimCity or SimEarth. With each scale decrease, there is less automation of the subjects and more automation of the world. That way, you feel like you can actually interact with the things you are looking at, instead of making it rain and hoping they take out an umbrella.
In response to “Heathens by Design” from The Escapist Forum: This article badly conflates demigods / pagan gods with the Judeo-Christian God, and ends up a total mess.
God games put you in the role of a demigod, who has near-total control over the environment, but also has to follow certain rules and belong to a certain faction. Other games like System Shock, Portal or God of War pit you against a demigod, who appears to have total control over your environment – but also turns out to be limited and factional in the end.
No game that I know of has cast you in the role of an omniscient, omnipotent God – except insofar as that applies to the developer. Similarly, I don’t know of any game that pits you against God, without applying some sort of disclaimer to make him less omnipotent than he seems. No conclusions can be drawn about theism/anti-theism in this regard from games, because games don’t ask that question.
As far as Mario is concerned, Mario doesn’t expect God to save the princess for him – which is exactly what Mario would expect if he were Christian. (Do you see God ending wars with a wave of his hand? No. So why would you expect it to happen to Mario?) So again, there’s really no conclusion that can be gleaned from this.
Even God of War reveals the bankruptcy of your plan to kill a god – but that would be spoiler territory.
I just wanted to applaud the Escapist for daring to enter the troubled waters of religious discussion, and poking at games with the religion stick. As a game designer of many years, I can emphatically state that publishers deliberately stay away from something this touchy and controversial. And yet a quick glance at any news source shows the effect of religion on our daily lives. Games are a medium of expression, and in a perfect world game devs would be free to explore religion as well as any other topic. But the real world of corporate funded game development is governed by fear of litigation and negative publicity, and that is unlikely to change anytime soon. Frankly this week’s topic has worked as an artistic endeavor already, as I had NEVER thought about standard religion and games in any combined fashion prior to this. I don’t know how games would incorporate religion into them, but it seems inconceivable that games would be the only artistic medium that did not.
In response to “Character Creation” from The Escapist Forum: Good article, I think, and something that hasn’t really been heavily explored before – so kudos for that. It reminds me of something I read about how the younger (and future) generations can be defined as being “digital natives” because they grew up with it all around them. Whereas the older generations are “digital immigrants” because it is something which often has to be thoroughly explained to them, since they didn’t grow up around computers, mobile phones, the internet, etc.
Interesting and insightful article. Having a baby brother of my own, I tend to be strongly in favour of granting children the freedom to play with technological devices that they encounter. I never would have been anywhere near as proficient with computers had I not been given the opportunity to learn in my formative years, so I’ll be helping my brother through the fields of technology, just as I plan to teach him the wonders of reading at an early age.
My brother loves to press keys on a keyboard – I suppose it’s that interaction with the screen, a feeling that his actions are doing something to the computer, that he’s interested in. I’d let him loose on my own laptop, but I run Debian Linux on it. Not exactly a good operating system to be volatile with.
We’re a pretty technological family anyway – we have nine computers, seven of them in the house and five belonging to me. We’ve got five television sets as well, but my brother doesn’t seem as interested in the television as the things he can properly interact with. He’ll play with computers, telephones and even the occasional game – little will he recognise it, but I carefully orchestrated it so that his first gaming experience would be a game of Space Invaders.
In response to “In the Beginning There was Populous” from The Escapist Forum: Kudos for the Act Raiser reference. There was no better way to spend a rainy afternoon than save a few souls from the evil demons and then beat an insanely hard platforming level. I always liked the fact that the game required you to descend from your lofty godlike realm, take on mortal form, and do battle with evil for the sake of your followers.
Not a bad game design metaphor for Christ, if you think about it.
In response to “The Gods Must Be Crazy” from The Escapist Forum: I loved the Sims: Bustin’ Out because you could just be an utter bastard to your sims with many weird objects. Enclosed them in a maze and gave them 1 fridge and lots of dangerous objects. Eventually I felt like a sick individual but I loved forcing a Sim to fix a light, even though it had a 90% chance of electrocuting them and killing them.