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Alright, you heard the man. We can give up on exploring what games are, because John Carmack did it all for us. Let's go home.

Gregory Weir

I think you're setting up a straw man here. I seldom hear people say games are in their infancy referring to technology. It's about technique, not polygons, and I think that we are indeed in games' infancy, although I have confidence that we're at least edging into puberty.

Important concepts created or popularized in games since Doom: the blurring of cutscenes and gameplay (Half-Life, quick time events), persistent online worlds (MMOs and ARGs), the separation of challenge and punishment (PoP2008, Super Meat Boy), episodic games (Telltale, others). That's just off the top of my head. Each of these has added something significant to the designer's palette, and was pioneered after 1993.

The people calling for better and better technology are not the same people calling for art and sophistication in game design.


I think this statement is false, because you're trying to separate technology from an art form which requires technology.

Older arts just used a certain level of technology to create the product. computer games use technology to create, and then to process the audience reaction, and then to deliver the product.

Maybe the key issue is : how are we all defining the term "game?" Would you agree that board games and computer games are intrinsically different? I think the core of playing computer games is "making meaningful choices in a system." The sophistication of the technology that : receives your inputs, calculates their meaning, and delivers a response - is everything. Improving the technology will change: 1) the way you input, 2) the level of meaning that is derived from your input, and 3) the way a response is delivered.

To shift gears, I think it is telling that:
- The audience doesn't have to learn "how" to listen to a song every time they start up a new one. now how to use their eyeballs to see a painting. but they do need to learn how to experience each new computer game.
- The Film maker doesn't reinvent the camera technology each new movie. the painter doesn't reinvent the brush. But computer games constantly create new tools from scratch.

Since past arts resulted in a static product, there was a baseline to the experience. On some level everyone would experience the same output from the piece of art. Changing the sophistication of creation wouldn't really change how people experienced the final piece of art. But sophistication does become key when you add "creation" and "interaction" to the mix, bookending the "experience" portion.
... In way the classic "past arts" strike me as very similar to the middle step in the process I babbled about above ("2)" Where the computer evaluates input, and tries to decide what it's response is).

(...which distracts me into thinking that maybe, in the "art" of computer gaming, we human beings are the really the works of art, and the computer is the audience/critic deciding what we mean).

ahem. anywho. bleh.

The original (?) Lumiere Bros. Cinématographe (movie camera) seems to give everything you need to make movies. Arguably, moviemaking matured in the 20s, when editing and storytelling were sorted out and the ~2 hour mark started to be widely embraced.

But advances in technology have notably changed the definition of movies since then. Youtube, for example, has deepened the meaning of "movie making" to encompass this weird phenomenon of "crowd accelerated innovation" (a neat idea taken from a recent Wired article). This "meaning" of movies wasn't possible with the original tech. it has broadened the artform past limitations. (yeah?)

... and maybe this is the point really. that the original techniques will endure, but the limitations of computer games will get much broader as technology improves...

I guess I'm being freaky to admit: I think someday people may look back and say "is it really a computer game if it didn't use biometric feedbacks to deduce the player's intent and personalize the input, access their play histories and psych profiles to properly evaluate the meaning of today's inputs, and finally upload results to the internet to improve all other gameplay session parameters and update society? Weren't Pong and Doom more like little 'finger movies' that sort of happened on a screen after your fingers mashed some buttons and nobs." ... maybe by that point we'll stop calling them "video games" and go with "interaction systems" or something. ugh.

(... well, i enjoyed your article, and enjoyed this rambling response. But I'm not sure I've made a point. ehh. my brain has certainly died! wee!)



I think you need to look up the theory of the Uncanny Valley, because I don't think your analogy works.


Although there is a "tipping" point as you say in the theory of the Uncanny Valley, what happens at this point is our human perception shies away from something that is almost but not quite real. Once we go through the valley, we do come to a realistic point "with a lot of effort" and this has been shown in numerous animation effects.

In Summary I dont think you should use that analogy.

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