Monday, July 07, 2014

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Joy Versus Violence: When Child-Like Play is More Mature Than a Gruesome Gunfight

Tengami Waterfall
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

There's a gem of a post by Leigh Alexander up on Gamasutra today, and while it's rather lengthy anyone who found themselves a little uninspired by the guns, guts and goreshow at E3 last month should take the time to read. In it, Alexander presents the idea that the games with content labelled as "mature" may actually be more juvenile than the games that give us beauty, creativity and good old fashioned joy but get labelled as casual or kid-oriented.

Alexander's interview with fellow critic Michael Abbot was particularly interesting, and seems to crystallize a sentiment picking up steam among developers and consumers alike:

"What concerns me about the avalanche of shooters we see at E3 every year is the way they're showcased as the very best the industry can do," Abbott tells Gamasutra. "We’re told these are important groundbreaking games, but we can see for ourselves they aren't. This year the endless stream of violence felt more like pandering than ever, and I felt bored and alienated. And old. Every E3 is pitched to the same 14-year-old adolescent male as the one before. And every year I have less in common with that boy."

[...]

But why is grit and viscera often our primary way of proving our "adulthood?" Shouldn't the pleasure of play be ageless, independent of a particular domain? Says Abbott: "Ironically, as that 14-year-old seems to want ever more 'adult' and grisly games, I find myself yearning for more 'adult' games that enable joyful imaginative play. Violence in games feels played-out. I’m hungry for experiences that tap into other human impulses. I’m not offended by violence -- Suda 51 intrigues me because he explores and exploits violence in ways other designers don’t -- I just don’t find killing simulators very interesting anymore."

Don't miss Alexander's full article over on Gamasutra.

Mixed reality iris 2013Iris Ophelia (@bleatingheart, Janine Hawkins IRL) has been featured in the New York Times, and has spoken about SL-based design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan and with pop culture/fashion maven Johanna Blakley.

Comments

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Alan

Such an awesome article I couldn't agree more. All my favourite games main focus, or at least my focus of pleasure from them are from games that have a more nurturing or emotional depth to them. The Sims, Final Fantasy (you can argue there's plenty of violence but for me it pales in comparison to the joy of being in a beautifully imagined environment and story), Spore (before you are forced to engage in tribal warfare), Rayman (again yes it was violence but the pleasure was from the art work, it felt like play). Even recently the rather simple game 'Banished', which is slow, the challenge is to balance all the dynamics of creating a thriving village rather than battling some outside force. Even in a game like FarCry or SkyRim, I much more enjoyed the free open experience of exploring the world to the actual missions and fighting, generally.

I much prefer a game that feels like playful positivity, losing myself in the experience rather than a goal oriented fight or flight kind of one. I enjoy the latter but the gaming industry is just rife with it. Are there any bloggers or other sources of internet information that will highlight such games? I would love that, I know new world notes does a pretty good job of it but I was wondering if people knew of more.

Jaqua

I think it comes down to two mind sets the feminine mindset and the masculinist one that is all about the right of passage of violence to prove manhood, and the nurturing communal sensibilities of the feminine essence, unfortunately, in this world 14 year old boys (a demographic I have nothing in common with as well, therefore, I don't consider my self a "gamer")outspend adults and girls of the same age on video games and paraphernalia two to one, and as a result the gaming industry chases that dollar. That is why when VR finally takes off, many are gonna be at a loss once the concept of gaming is obsolete, with the future geared more towards experiences, education, and exploration of the virtual dimensions.

The Tier Is Too Damn High Party

I like both, depending on my mood.

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