Outgrowing Games: The Rebuttal and Challenge

Illustration for article titled Outgrowing Games: The Rebuttal and Challenge

A few weeks ago, designer Brice Morrison talked about how a game designer outgrew games; since kicking off a flurry of discussion, he's returned to GameSetWatch with some in-depth answers to common questions and a challenge.

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It's worth a read — a lot of issues readers raised are brought up, such as "What's wrong with games as simply entertainment? If you want intellectual stimulation, why not turn to something else?":

Nothing is wrong with viewing games as entertainment, but there is so much more that could be done! Games have the capability to be incredibly experiential because of their capability to provide interactivity.

As designer Dan Cook from Lost Garden wrote, it's the difference between hearing about the time someone decided not to pull the trigger, and deciding for yourself not to pull the trigger. Actually going through experiences yourself is much more compelling and personal than reading a story. The opportunities are too ripe not to pursue the possibilities.

Additionally, it's sad for someone who loved games while they were younger to have to turn away later in life because the days become busier. Other activities, sports for example, are still viewed as a worthwhile use of time, but only because of some other benefit in addition to being entertainment, such as exercise.

Video games also have the capability to provide the same kind of peripheral benefit. This doesn't mean entertainment should be shown the door, but I think even popularizing the idea that games could be something more is a good step.

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He also appends a challenge at the end, a game design competition — it's pretty open-ended, and you can find more information at his blog.

A Response to 'Outgrowing Games', With A Bonus Competition

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DISCUSSION

Well, while I mostly sympathize with his articles because I think games limit themselves as a medium most of the time, I have to offer a few rebuttals.

First article:

While my interests in other media grew substantially more adult — from Nickelodeon to CNN, from Dr. Seuss to George Orwell — games did not seem to have a more intelligent counterpart for me to move on to.

People debate the news value of CNN - I'd take it as a credible and timely news source, but there's no mistake that that news is often heavily packaged as entertainment, with on the spot coverage of things like floods and typhoons so you can see what they're like, or putting a scary spin on stories to generate hype. Orwell's most famous works were fiction (at least at the time of writing.) Not to discredit either, but games DO have such counterparts. The Metal Gear Solid series for example. I'd imagine (but don't play so I don't know) the Tom Clancy or Splinter Cell games. Call of Duty as well, all have serious political messages in them. CoD4 by accounts I've heard, really tries to convey the feeling of being put in the various situations in recent wars, and give you the same feelings of powerlessness or moral quandry.

To fill my growing need for intellectual nourishment, I left games and moved to other media [...] I was an "infovore", eager to learn all I could about the world I live in.<p

But the games I played appeared to have nothing to say in this discussion of the pragmatic. And so reluctantly I waved goodbye to my entertaining friend in search of deeper art and ideas.<i

I am also a ravenous "infovore," but also not a snob who can only pursue one thing in life at a time. All humans are multifaceted, whether they notice it or not.

To many people, games are only allowed to exist for pure entertainment. Another medium that has succumbed to this sad fate is comic books. Artist Scott McCloud has written (and drawn) extensively about the tragedy of comic books. They, like games, are a medium which has yet to break out of its childish audience.

To many people, any medium is pure entertainment. To others, it is not. For example, for some, the internet is just a porn feed. That doesn't mean it's nothing but porn. Flawed argument at best.

I've largely moved to manga to find deeper and less pandering writing and more mature concepts, BUT... on the other hand, much of it is also mindless entertainment because that sells - and if you look just a little beyond the surface, you can find more than enough in English/American comics to fill that need as well.

Games have a lot of growing to do before they are ready to be heard. But imagine when we arrive: a world where games could teach you how to drive better, how to write better, how to talk with coworkers and friends better.<p

Imagine games that could help you understand life outside of your country, to conceptualize the hardships of the poor. Imagine games that could expand your mind, and make your personal world richer than it as before. Those are games worth seeking out.<i

Does he even play games? Has he ever? For their obvious unrealisms, many have learned to drive better in Gran Turismo/Forza, or more practically, GTA type games as they learn to scan and avoid obstacles and react better. There are also driving simulators, just not commercially that I know of. MMOs have been documented helping people with extreme shyness and social avoidance issues become comfortable interacting socially. Life outside your country - I don't bother to prove, I think most of you have seen them. Expand your mind/enrich... it's up to the individual, but who hasn't experienced this?

Sorry, I could dig deeper and cite examples, but I'm putting out walls of text as it is... NOW ARTICLE 2!