A Brave New World

Dare to imagine, if you will, a world where affordable haute cuisine is as commonplace as junk food, where every local movie theater is screening intelligent, challenging films and not just movies, and where games are considered art and nothing as low as mere ‘entertainment’.  This seems to be the world that John Lanchester is secretly wishing for every time he happens to glance upwards and observe debris from comets entering the earth’s atmosphere, in this article as reported by the guys at Joystiq.

Whilst I am genuinely trying to limit the numbers of purely reactionary posts that appear here, I felt compelled to comment on the stark contrast between his obvious skill as a writer, and the staggering naivete of the article.

I should probably make it clear at this point that whilst I would dearly like see more games like Okami and Shadow of the Colossus hit the shelves and prove popular with gamers on a scale comparable with titles like GTA, the chances of this transpiring in reality are similar to Uwe Boll’s chances of making a decent video game adaptation.

Lanchester’s article is also marred by questionable research, in that not only does he count each individual direction of the D-Pad on the DualShock controller as a ‘button’, but he also manages to overlook the true perspective of Rockstar title Bully, relying on common media misconceptions rather than any first-hand investigation into the game’s content.  He also succeeds in making sweeping generalizations regarding gamers due to the manual dexterity supposedly required to operate a DualShock controller; “A ‘DualShock’ controller of the type used in the Playstation 2 has 16 buttons and levers, and the game uses all of them, many simultaneously. The old, slow or time-poor need not bother.”  Disappointing, John.

Perhaps the fact that games’ considerable potential as an art form is constantly overshadowed by cold-blooded commercialism has left me bitter and jaded, or perhaps I’m just tired of reading articles like this one – with companies like EA and Microsoft still firmly in control of the market with titles like Madden ’08 and Halo 3, the lofty dreams of high-brow intellectualism in games imagined in Lanchester’s article is, sadly, still a long way away.

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