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Archaic video games

Re: Archaic video games
March 25, 2009, 02:27:03 PM
Every time a video game debate pops up, I am always fascinated by some of the responses. Most of the defenders are lost in the wonders of their childhood, the instant gratification, the awe-inspiring story elements, the brilliant atmosphere. Whatever it was: it has stuck with us. As a child I played SNES and then moved on to Final Fantasy VI and VII which was like nothing I had ever seen. The music, plot and atmosphere put me in a place I'll never forget. Life was great. In all of my memories it would seem the sun was shining through my blinds as I sat there entirely immersed in the world I'd spend time in. This is escapism at it's finest.

The attackers of the medium are looking straight at the reality and implications and consequences of the medium- they do not share the experience that bids the defenders defend it.

Now I can see the validity in both sides of the arguments. Yes, it is passive entertainment and our time on this world is better spent elsewhere. But yes, it was a great wase of time.

I can never see the great distinction between films and video games. I agree that MOST video games are useless shit. Just like most films (these days at least). However, let us think why we watch a film in the first place. A film strives to envoke emotion and thought in it's viewers. Some video games (most notabely the RPG genre) do the same, and strive for the same. And a novel? The same. When I read Robert E. Howard's conan tales I am connecting with my inner-adventure, lost in a fantastic world. When I played those RPGs as a child, I was doing the same. There are tons of parallels.

I would never say all video games are mindless. Most of them are. Most TV is also mindless, but can you say time is not well spent when knowledge is acquired as you sit watching a National Geographic special? Sure, it's condensed and streamlined, and the visuals are a priority, but the information and biological interest is there.

Now I would say that Gamer "culture" these days is just gross. It's sickening, and enveloping our frail, dumb youth.

Let us seperate the garbage like "Twilight" from a Melville masterpeice. Because as you all know if you've walked into a Border books store, the garbage fills most of the shelves. I see the same parallel with film and video games.

Here I make my point about how literature and music are the most superior of art forms:

There is a difference between literature/music and movies/video games/television.  Literature and music provide you with one sense each: in literature's case, visual sensation from reading, and this is not complete as you are reading words without images, and in music's case auditory sensation obviously.  In only hearing music, or in only hearing words, your mind has to supply everything else on it's own.  These mediums exercise the brain, by the brain having to substitute it's own interpretations of the received audio or visual data.  Your brain does it's own interpretations, which I find infinitely more fascinating.  I rather enjoy my imagination.

Movies/ video games/television provide you with what is largely a virtual reality.  They do not stimulate the imagination as much because much of the information is presented already there for you.  I imagine on some level this confuses the hell out of your brain and body, and in many cases, they must consider the stimuli presented to themselves quite real on a subconcious level.  Think about it: while your concious mind says that it's not real, your survival mechanisms are probably looking at the interaction of sound and sight and considering it quite real.  Of course, that is just psychological conjecture, and my main point is that when the senses are overstimulated as they are in movies/television/video games, too much of this can make the brain "lazy" in a way, as it does not require the brain to substitute it's own interpretations.

Well I agree 100%, being a literature freak myself. The point of my post was justifying film and the myriad of swirling colors we sometimes stare at, as being sometimes valid ways to spend your time. I would agree with you that literature and music are superior, not only for the reasons you mentioned, but because of they stand the test of time as storytelling/emotional-altering mediums. We don't know where television, film, or video games will be in 100 years, but stories and music will most likely remain, as they have done from the beginning of time.

Re: Archaic video games
March 25, 2009, 03:26:22 PM
Personally, I find videogames to be one of the most potent and efficient forms of entertainment out there. What can possibly be more effective as a form of escapism other than transporting someone to a completely new but realistically recreated world that he can interact with and be immersed in? Although there's plenty of shlock, a lot of these games have beautiful visuals, music, characterization and storylines. Some even teach you something about the real world, while others let you indulge in the pure pleasure of killing shit. I can't be a knight in a bygone era now but at least I can get an interactive and immersive abstraction of what battle as one could have looked like with games like Mount & Blade. Games are sort of like interactive movies to me, maybe even interactive  paintings. A painting of Igor Svyatoslavich's battle with the Polovtsy is just a still scene, while a game based on it would provide a convincing vehicle to play-act in the scene, to make a living world out of it.

Not to mention that the idea of videogames (but not only) offering a simulation of the real world with agents interacting is interesting in and of itself and has a lot of potential to teach us about ourselves or how systems work. I find videogames a lot more intellectually involving than listening to music anyway; they demand your concentration, sometimes your problem-solving skills and usually you have to figure the game system out in some way to really master them, much like chess. Older videogames bore me, though. Too simplistic and clearly marketed toward little kids, the same kids whose demand (and parents' money) fueled the console wars when they came out.

Also, games and movies I think can be used to expand your repertoire of visual imagery. As much as I like my own mental imagery I don't think I could have thought up the world of Arda or a lot of its little details as it was presented by Peter Jackson in his Lord of the Rings movies.

Re: Archaic video games
March 25, 2009, 03:39:35 PM
I think it's slightly arrogant to suggest that film doesn't require interpretation. Try understanding a Tarkovskij or Malick or even a Leone film without using your brain and you won't get very far. And it applies for video games too, just because the medium has been abused doesn't mean it can't be used to good effect. Why? Because, contrary to what ASBO and Helmholtz say, imagination does not merely substitute for missing sense experience. It supplies the interpretation of that experience and any form of art that is communicative, whatever the senses used, is capable of stimulating the imagination and working the brain. (ASBO's example, a machine which simulates sex with women is obviously not communicative, nor is it art).

Tell me, what is your opinion on theatre and opera? Both use the same senses as film - would you argue they are therefore inferior? Euripides, Shakespeare, Wagner ... all rubbish?

Re: Archaic video games
March 25, 2009, 04:58:11 PM
Fuck theatre. Fuck films. Fuck video games. Fuck anything where you have to see the drama. Seeing is like dreaming or remembering, and is too close to your own perception. Hail any art form that requires you to form a vision of it yourself from what you know.

It's like this.: you're on patrol in Viet Nam with two friends. You ask the first friend, "Hey, what do you see on that hill?"

"Just a bunch of logs," he says.

Suddenly your other friend drops dead. Where did the shot come from?

As you might guess, that bunch of logs could well be a bunker -- if your first friend didn't correctly understand what he was seeing.

His words tell you a vision. In that, you see a pile of logs. But the reality may be more complicated, like those logs being arranged into the front of a bunker.

Now you must decide where to look and shoot first, and you're hampered by the partial knowledge you got from your buddy, because that partial knowledge seems complete in your mind. You've been programmed to fail.

So it is with film, video games, and theatre. Fuck 'em.

Re: Archaic video games
March 25, 2009, 06:04:25 PM
I'm sorry, but what the fuck are you talking about? Movies, videogames and theater present some hindering false reality, that somehow literature and music manage to bypass? What's the "real" reality you're alluding to and how is it absent from the other three media? Does opera get the snub from you too as part of theater?


Re: Archaic video games
March 26, 2009, 01:26:17 AM
When youre watching a movie, you arent seeing an expression of what the audience perceives. To make the connection right you should be asking the Viet Cong who built the bunker in the first place - he would know exactly what it is.

If anything, literature and music are the ones that are the most vulnerable to subjective misinterpretations. The dividing factor between art forms is whether the observer takes an active or passive role.

Its not always so cut and dry though.  In the case of music you are interpreting it on the fly, but with (good) movies the interpretation and reflection is done after it physically finishes.

That being said, most movies are just made to allow for an escape from reality. Finishing a movie, in this case, is like coming down from a high. The weight of reality eventually returns and smashes you like a cockroach.

Re: Archaic video games
March 26, 2009, 09:39:18 AM
How so? I played it a while back so my memory is foggy at best.
How people are based on their DNA, that culture is the only thing that is really important for the human race, and that even if humanity does end, we leave our mark and at least try.

Also debate the whole existentialist "is this real", etc.

Re: Archaic video games
March 28, 2009, 12:06:42 PM
On a side note: did our DNA make us inclined to play video games?

I really like the idea of video games. They're beautiful, the concepts are neat, etc. But for how long can you do it? And don't the challenges pale immediately compared to accomplishing stuff in life?

I find most entertainment activities boring. At least carpentry has an honest boredom to it: boredom as you work out parts that lead to a state of less boring, even a state that lasts a long time. It seems to me when you win at a video game, you get a digitized congratulations and then ??? profit.

Re: Archaic video games
August 25, 2009, 09:25:49 AM
Sorry to gravedig an old thread, but recently I stumbled upon this.


For fans of Quake, its an online version of Quake III free of charge. All that is needed is to register. Should make for some fun while I have downtime at work.

Re: Archaic video games
August 25, 2009, 10:41:23 AM
On a side note: did our DNA make us inclined to play video games?

I really like the idea of video games. They're beautiful, the concepts are neat, etc. But for how long can you do it? And don't the challenges pale immediately compared to accomplishing stuff in life?

I find most entertainment activities boring. At least carpentry has an honest boredom to it: boredom as you work out parts that lead to a state of less boring, even a state that lasts a long time. It seems to me when you win at a video game, you get a digitized congratulations and then ??? profit.

If people like videogames that much they should simply seek a career in the gaming industry, become a programmer or a level-designer or something. You mention carpentry but that's a profession and you're comparing it to gaming which would be regarded as a hobby (duh) What about the people who buy carpets and stare at them for hours, are they wasting their time too?

Videogames can have an educating function too. I haven't scrolled all the way through this thread yet so I don't know if Rome: Total War has been mentioned yet but that's a good example of a how a game could educate people. Unfortunately Rome: Total War isn't totally realistic, they changed some historical things to "improve" gameplay. But there's a number of mods out there that make it more realistic (Europa Barbarorum and Rome: Total Realism) As I said it's an example of how a game could be educational. If you want more realistic games then I suggest you pursue a career in the gaming industry and try to set up your own company. Another semi-realistic game that I like is Americas Army.

Video games go nowhere. TV goes nowhere. Both of them put images in your head where you should be using your imagination.

Man Imitates America’s Army, Saves Lives
"A North Carolina man who saw an SUV flip and roll on a highway last November was able to provide medical aid to the victims with skills he learned from the America’s Army, say the videogame’s makers."

You think this man should have used his imagination instead?

Re: Archaic video games
August 25, 2009, 12:24:16 PM
Videogames can have an educating function too.

Right, but I don't think he was discussing if video games were purely for entertainment purposes or if they could be for educational purposes as well.

I think he was saying that, in terms of artistic validity, they are essentially inferior to literature and music in that they demand far less critical thinking and imagining.

Most game design operates on what I will call the Mouse Cheese Maze model. Incentives, in other words. Complete X task, obtain Y reward.

I think if video games are to have a future they must break away from that.

Anyway, for those interested in video games, I highly recommend checking out these links:

The Education of a Game Designer
Technologists and Artists

Re: Archaic video games
August 25, 2009, 02:03:37 PM
Video games do require more critical thinking than fictional literature does. If you're reading a book all you're doing is flipping pages, if you're playing a (challenging) game then you actually require skill and observation to progress. I do agree that literature requires more imagination, but that also means that video games have far more potential than literature. If a book reads "the house stood vacant on the hill with all windows boarded shut" am I really that intelligent for being able to imagine something like that? Will that help me in life in any way?

Currently literature wins when it comes to gaining knowledge, video games are mainly about skills with pressing buttons at the right time (which can come in quite handy later in life when you work at an assembly line but is otherwise useless) But if video games were to be made more brainy (which they occasionally are) they would be an excellent way to simply have fun and learn useful things at the same time. Or video games could be made more artful, like a painting that you can actually walk around in. Technology offers a lot of potential, it's a shame that so much is wasted on commercial products that nobody cares about anymore two years later.

Re: Archaic video games
August 25, 2009, 02:16:10 PM

Re: Archaic video games
August 25, 2009, 03:36:23 PM
Video games do require more critical thinking than fictional literature does.

I cannot express how wrong this is. Think about it: a complex story in literature, like Journey to the End of the Night, requires a lot more engagement that just clicking buttons to get through some clearly-defined problem.

Re: Archaic video games
August 25, 2009, 04:23:08 PM
Video games do require more critical thinking than fictional literature does.

You mean decision-making skills? Critical thinking encompasses more than that.

On that note, playing video games stunt brain development. They're one of those things that you avoid, or at the least, do in moderation, if you're still growing up. I'm afraid that if you're an adult, all I can say is that you should probably reconsider what you're doing with your free time.


Reading printed text is loads better for you than watching television, playing video games, and even using the Internet (because it's a whole other thought process when you're reading things online and clicking around).


So it probably helps to understand how the brain works and what is required from it to engage in these different activities. It adapts to whatever you throw at it, and reading seems to be the best challenge for you.

I mean, games are fun and all, but it's only about as good for you as masturbating or drinking booze: It's one more of those things where you have to use your best judgment. Some of us need it, but a lot of us would be better off without it.