Monday, December 7, 2009

The Boys' Video Game Column Is Back!

The boys have gone on record many times with their belief that video games are "not art," so how did they feel about the recent NY-Times profile of a group of young, innovative, independent video game designers who are determined to make games that are about more than just graphically shooting zombies or pretending to be the Beatles. They want to create games that are "meaningful in deep, fundamental ways.”

First off, who are these people? The article explains:

"Rohrer himself is a kind of Thoreauvian game designer, a 31-year-old back-to-the-land programmer-philosopher who lives in Las Cruces, N.M., where he codes his eccentrically engrossing games, which can feel like digitally mediated poetic moods, on an ancient computer and makes them available free online."

Chip: "If this guy was really an outdoorsy type fellow, I don't think he'd be playing video games. I'm immediately skeptical."

Perhaps, Chip. But some of these games do sound "meaningful." For instance, there's Blueberry Garden, "which features little instruction and no puzzles — other than the question of what exactly to do next — but roaming among the garden’s flora and fauna to the sounds of a Debussy-like soundtrack is captivating."

Will players take to this kind of experience? A player quoted within the piece sounds quite impressed:

“Dude, you just kind of float around and get those blueberry power-ups."

Richard: "I totally can't wait to get stoned and play this shit!"

Another of the new games is called "Flower," which is described as follows:

"Flower has an environmental message, about the fragility of life, but more important is the primal experience of playing. You can experience it like a film, passing through a whole range of emotions from beginning to end. “Flower,” Chen says, “is about the sublime.” It is a game to be played in one sitting, he said, and preferably “alongside your lover.”

Chip: "The problem here is that people who play video games do not have 'lovers.'"

Richard: "If I can 'experience it like a film,' why shouldn't I just watch a film?"

The piece ends with an inspiring image of the young designers who are described as "wandering down Haight Street holding a case of Pabst Blue Ribbon and drinking from paper bags. “I don’t care about money,” Soderstrom said. “I just want games to be something like art.”

Read the full piece here (it's good!): diy supplant&st=cse&scp=1

And here's a "screen shot" from Blueberry Garden:

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