Humanity and Video Games: the Pressing Irrelevancy of Gaming

GGTL: "I don’t want to make another reference to Roger Ebert and his beaten-to-death statement that games will never be art, but I have to. One of the best lines that came from Ebert’s diatribe was actually from a post on his blog about using the word “nigger” in Mark Twain’s novel Huckleberry Finn. Ebert wrote he would “sacrifice every video game in existence rather than lose Huckleberry Finn”.

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gypsygib2778d ago (Edited 2778d ago )

I like sports too, they're all about having fun and/or competition. That doesn't make them less relevant.

Games offer experiences that most of people will never be able to have (albeit with varying degrees of accuracy). But at least I have an idea of what it's like to face insurmountable odds and come out on top, or be trapped in a space station surrounded by deadly aliens, or win the Super Bowl, or have super powers, or kill a god, etc. Movies try but can't offer the same immersion.

Sure great novels are vital to humanities intellectual stimulation and there isn't a comparative Huckleberry Finn in video games that would provide that same intellectual value. But games are primarily made for entertainment and they certainly stimulate the brain more than the majority of television. movies and music.

The reality is that if you eliminated games people wouldn't suddenly start reading Ulysses and War and Peace, they'd watch "The Kardashians" or "Jersey Shore" or some action flick.

Doctor's game, lawyer game, judges game, the guy at McDonalds and Walmart game and all types in between. People who are intellectually motivated won't cease to be simply due to games and people who find literature boring won't pick up a book if games go away. It's about balancing work and play. After 10 hrs of work, I need to play.

Also, some games actually do address relevant issues to humanity or at least provide useful quotes that stimulate thought like Bioshock. MGS4 has made me think a lot about how humanity has never really known peace and how ambiguous "enemy" and "evil" are. There's a lot more but this post is long enough.


parkerscott2777d ago

gypsygib: most of those experiences you list boil down to the same experience of empowerment: that's what the gameplay is built around - making me feel like a badass. So yes, video games are very good at that sort of thing - better than film, better than books, better than sculpture.

That games' stimulate the brain "more" than other mediums is certainly nothing I can credibly argue.

I'm not arguing that games are blocking our ability to enjoy meaningful experiences elsewhere; I'm saying games are largely a one-trick pony. Games, as a vessel for interaction, have enormous potential, and I worry we may never discover what that is unless we reorient the way we evaluate them.

We should be able to play in games. I encourage it, but not when it means stultifying the curiosity of what other experiences the medium of interaction may hold. The point wasn't that games can't give us something as significant as a husk of a man committing suicide, it's that they can, and they aren't.

As for the point that games do address relevant issues, I submit that Bioshock would have been a better book than a game. Metal Gear Solid 4 was essentially a movie anyway, but as a vessel for commentary (ludicrous as it is) it would function better as a movie.