In response to “Confessions of a GameStop Employee – Part One” from The Escapist Forum: My main problem with gutting new game is that it reeks of hypocrisy. If I buy a game and open it, even if I never put it in my console, it becomes used as soon as the shrink wrap comes off. However, if Gamestop opens it as a means of preventing theft, well then it’s still a new game even though DLC codes, maps, stickers, and god knows what may have been removed by store employees.
However, what I will say is that Gamestop has an awesome return policy on used games. Seven days, no questions asked. If you can’t find a way to turn that into week long free rentals then you are doing something wrong.
It doesn’t surprise me one bit that a national retail chain staffs its stores with people who aren’t particularly, deeply passionate about games. Why? Because that’s not their job. Their job is to sell product and mind the store, and they don’t need to have a life-long love affair with games anymore than a guy who sells cars needs to be some sort of huge car nut, or a waiter (or even the cook for that matter) serving and making your food needs to have been, from birth, wanting to serve or cook food. Certainly there’s a minimum level of competency and service required, but that’s really a different set of criteria.
For what retail chains pay people, how can you expect there to be some stringent bar to qualification? I absolutely love games of all sorts, but the last thing I ever wanted to do was to work retail, nor would I suggest it as a career path to anyone – they’re jobs you take because you have to, in most cases. Or, in the author’s case, for spending money I guess, though I’d think anyone headed to graduate school might find a better way to fill those months before he starts classes unless he really, really needed the money.
All that being said, I don’t hold the same sort of contempt that a lot of gamers seem to have for retail game sales outlets or their employees. I don’t excuse poor customer service or shoddy merchandise, as some of the previous examples state, but I don’t go there with the expectation that I’m going to be dazzled by the passion and interest of a game store clerk. I go there to buy things, and as long as I’m getting what I paid for, I’m happy.
In response to “Second Real Life” from The Escapist Forum: It’s because of articles like this that I love The Escapist. Fantastic, and remarkably moving. I also am guilty of prejudging the people who play Second Life, and I expect so are most people. Not going to do that again. Wow.
I just feel so sorry for K. For W as well, but to a lesser extent. At least he has the option to have a real life and a real family; that doesn’t seem to be the case with K. It just amazes me that people like her are abandoned by others and left to look after themselves. I mean, she’s even been deserted by her family, the people you’d expect to be there for her. It just makes me feel so depressed; I’m misanthropic anyway, and it’s stuff like this that makes me lose faith in people. How can they justify it to themselves?
In response to “Tetramino, Falling” from The Escapist Forum: So I was going write this post about how the article made me realize that Tetris is a work of art of pure gameplay, not because of any meaning it has or some silly interpretations people came up with… but then the last few paragraphs of the article said it for me. How often do you get ninja’d by the article itself? XD Still, I hadn’t ever really thought of gameplay as an art form on its own before, so that’s pretty cool.
I’m kinda sad that the Tetris version that came with Ubuntu has such messed up controls. The pieces simply don’t move sideways fast enough, so it starts to get unplayable just around the point where it’s getting fast enough to be interesting. 🙁 I guess I could fix it myself, given that it is open source and all… but I’m much more likely to just find some new AAAs for my good old TI-89 and play the real version. 🙂
Yes, I consider the TI-89 version the One True Tetris. Hey, don’t look at me like that! 😛
So, back to the article a sec; it almost said something I found interesting: The way video games can imitate movies but don’t have to has a lot in common with the relationship between paintings and photographs.
Although, my favorite use of the tetronimoes was their use to solve thermodynamic problems of entropy and chaos. By making the classic seven pieces fall randomly, the were able to model entropic systems. How awesome is that?
I think it is key to the discussion of games-as-art to identify their use of “videogamic” qualities (althought we might want to coin a better term). In this debate, sometimes people point to the fantastic visuals (whether realistic or abstract), sounds and music, the engaging stories, or the production values matching those of films. These things are videogames incorporating other forms of art. Videogames as their own art depend on “videogamic” qualities; the importance of what you do as opposed to what you see, hear, or even feel.
In response to “The Philosophy of Game Design – Part One” from The Escapist Forum:
The article is right in saying that a game’s goodness exists outside the mind of the players. But by saying it only exists in the mind of the game developers is moving it from one group of people to another.
Plato would argue that a game’s goodness exists by itself, not in the subjective mind of the players or game developers.
A good game is one that is unified, proportional and whole – based on the sum of its parts.
Great graphics but no gameplay.
Great story but short length.
Great music but bad sound effects.
A good game is proportional, unified, and whole and it doesn’t matter what the game developers declare it to be a great game.
So begins the circular logic.
A: The “goodness” of a game is independent of subjective perception.
B: The “goodness” of a game is based on is proportionality.
C: The “proportionality” of a game is based on subjective assessment of its observable parts.
D: The “goodness” of a game is therefore based on subjective assessment of its observable parts.
E: The “goodness” of a game is NOT independent of subjective perception.
After all, who defines “great graphics?” Or the even more nebulous “gameplay?” What IS a “great story,” or an appropriate length? And then you mention “great music”–right, there’s a topic everyone has agreed upon easily throughout the ages. It’s all subjective, and Plato knew full well the hard reality that experience is always subjective, truth is objective, and so any attempt to ascertain the truth is only an attempt.
We’ve established there are two extremes:
1) “Hardcore gamers”: This extreme thinks games should be tailored toward the elite. It should be difficult to master, and the enjoyment comes from the sense of accomplishment when they are mastered. Games that scale down the difficulty are just contributing to the erosion of the challenge (and thus the accomplishment).
2) “Casual gamers”: This extreme thinks games should be tailored toward easily-accessible fun. The challenge is just there to help the game pass the time, or to provide goals that can be reached with time more than effort. Games that are too difficult or time-consuming are just narrowing the gaming market toward people with a lot of free time and disposable income.
Neither extreme is wrong, nor is either completely right. As with most things, the correct answer exists on a continuum BETWEEN the two. Games that are accessible enough that you’re still building the next generation of gamers by providing new experiences that build requisite skills (and interest)… but are also challenging and innovative enough that the field of game design is moving FORWARD as both an art and craft.
Interestingly, but not unexpectedly, the hardcore gamers are the far more uncompromising of the two. Casual gamers will gladly play “hardcore” games in ‘carebear mode,’ but a great many hardcore gamers are vocal about their hatred of a game that even includes a ‘carebear mode’ of any sort.
I was pretty disappointed with this article. I hate the idea that philosophy is something that some hairy men made out of marble did in Ancient Greece. “What makes a game good?” is an interesting philosophical question, and I don’t think asking “What would Plato say?” is a good way of answering it.
Speculating on the application of Platonic philosophy to game design is a perfectly valid thing to do, but it’s a much less general question than addressing how the idea of ‘goodness’ applies to video games. It seems like the sort of thing that’s probably only really interesting to philosophers, and even then of a particular bent. Why would you care if you didn’t have an interest in Plato in the first place?
My real bones with this article is that it’s reinforcing a negative image philosophy of being about beardy old Greeks and -ism’s, rather than dealing with the really interesting issue and showing that philosophy is interesting and relevant.
(and yeah, I am a philosophy student)