Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Boys Discuss Video Games!

In the past, the boys have turned their laser-sharp cultural observations on everything from country music to art to movies, but video games have thus far flown under their radar. That changed this week with the announcement of new games based on the films Pretty in Pink, Clueless, and Mean Girls.

Richard: "First off, this is great news! Why should blockbuster action and sci-fi flicks be the only ones to become video games? I, for one, would welcome, oh let's say, a There Will Be Blood video game, where I could become Daniel Plainview and run around establishing oil wells and drinking everyone's milkshakes. Or maybe a My Dinner With Andre game?* But would I be Wally Shawn or Andre Gregory? Damn, that would be a tough choice! The three new titles announced this week seem obviously marketed toward women, but I can only assume a lot of male geeks will gladly purchase the Pretty in Pink just so Duckie can finally get the girl!"

Chip: "Video games started strong, with Pong, but they've gone downhill since, in my opinion. All these ultra-realistic sports games are for fat men who live in their parents' basements and can't play real sports. And the so-called 'first-person shooters' simply train young boys how to shoot their teachers. I'm scared every fucking day I teach! Now I'll admit, some of those high-tech Atari games were pretty cool. Pac-Man, for instance, although I always preferred Ms. Pac-Man, to be perfectly honest. I was worried at first what that said about my sexuality, but I soon realized it was fine, that I was in fact VERY attracted to Ms. Pac-Man, with that big sweet mouth of hers."

Richard: "Personally, I never moved past Super-Nintendo, but I can see the fascination with today's games, especially with these multi-player fantasy worlds and stuff like the Sims, which, if I understand it correctly, allows people to create a virtual world which most people choose to make exactly like their own boring lives. I assume most people just join because they're curious about the sex aspects of it."

Chip: "Oh, I tried the Sims for awhile. My character mostly stayed home and beat off."

Richard: "There's been a lot of recent debates about video games as an "art form." Peter Travers recently named Grand Theft Auto as a great "cinematic" experience. Do you think video games can be art, Chip?"

Chip: "Well, obviously, they're an inherently inferior medium, just as TV is inferior to film which is inferior to books (by which of course I mean the books in the canon). Plus, video games are an open ended medium, by which I mean the player himself (and I say himself because I don't for the life of me believe that women play video games) is constantly "writing" the ending. Can that be art, when there's not a clear beginning, middle, and end. I'm going to say no."

Richard: "Agreed."

Chip: "As long as they're coming up with new games, I'd love to see a Sex and the City videogame in which you could choose which cougar to be and gain points through various ways, such as: who fucks the most guys; who owns the most shoes; who drinks the most Cosmos. As I say, women do not play these kind of games, but I think a lot of guys would really enjoy becoming a woman within the comfortable confines of the gaming world. Or I suppose guys could opt to play one of the ladies' "boytoys." Whose boytoy would you be?"

Richard: "Charlotte's. But I'll tell you what would truly be awesome, Chip: a videogame based on our own lives! Wait, no, that would probably be more like your Sims experience, actually."

*I'm pretty sure the My Dinner with Andre joke is stolen from somewhere, but then again maybe I'm just thinking about the My Dinner with Andre action figures in Waiting for Guffman?


Tommy Vercetti said...

Actually, I'm gonna have to disagree w/ y'all on video games. I won't necessarily say that they are "art" in any meritorious sense of the word, but your basis for making the distinction is faulty. Video games are highly genrefied texts that are often strictly linear with very clear beginning, middle, and end. I have never yet played a game that allows a person to actually "write" an ending. Instead, they either simply participate in the fulfillment of the ending chosen by the authors, or, at best, choose among several possible endings supplied by the game's authors.

By saying they're highly genrefied, I don't just mean that they're niche-marketed, but also that the majority of the textual experience of video games is devoted to the genre action as opposed to the narrative development. I characterize genre action as any action that interrupts narrative development in favor of the enjoyment of strictly generic pleasures. Examples include song & dance numbers for musicals, fighting or chase scenes in action movies, sex scenes in pornos, etc. In video games, the generic action is the "mission" in which the player controls the pixellated protagonist through a series of tasks.

So, the typical video game is structured: narrative-mission-narrative-mission-narrative-mission. Even in more advanced games with the possibility of multiple narrative strands being developed simultaneously, the structure is still basically the same.

The main variation from this structure is the "sim," building, or grand strategy type games.

Anonymous said...


--Donnie, you are out of you element

donnie said...

This is awesome!

But let's remember that not all opinions on the blog are necessarily those of the authors!

(although I do believe that Pac-Man will never be surpassed).