Thursday, September 6, 2007

Video Games... More fun than public executions.

This game has owned my soul for the past couple of weeks now. I drag myself up to bed at 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning and wake up bleary-eyed with splicer shadows flitting about the corners of my vision. I've sized up my co-workers to determine which ones would give me the most recoverable genetic material and loot in case the shit goes down. I've started beginning all of my sentences with "would you kindly" and to my sly satisfaction I seem to be getting my way more and more. I've nearly played through the game twice now and fully intend to just jump back in on a more challenging difficulty level.

The reason for this is simple; there is nothing comparable to the Bioshock experience and if I want to feel what it offers then I have only one choice. Bioshock stands out as one of the most singular video game experiences I have become immersed in. I doubt very much that your imagination has taken you to the underwater city of Rapture and once you've arrived I'm certain that you will feel compelled to return, despite the fact that you will be fighting for your life for the entirety of your stay. It is a provocative work of art, both enthralling to play and haunting to reflect upon when your shooting session is done.

I will not take much time to review this game here, it is slated to be Game of the Year and it has received much attention on the internet. One of the better examinations I've come across touches upon the deep literary and theatrical themes the game uses to illustrate its philosophy and explore how these thoughts are corrupted into vain ideologies when tampered with by human greed and ego.

To any of you who are uninterested in video games I would only mention that you might be surprised at the amount of hard work, deep analysis, and artistic risk-taking that is going on in this emerging form of entertainment. Modern (photo-realistic) video games have been created wholly in the digital age and indeed they are the chief factor as to why that age came to be. This has created some fundamental differences in the creation of video game property. The openness and free exchange of information on the internet has created an art medium that must strive for excellence in order to survive. As a result that excellence is achieved with more regularity than any other entertainment form and a game like Bioshock stands out as an excellent example. We haven't been told an original story like this in the movies or even books for years.

Video game enthusiasts are amongst the most computer literate people in the world. This makes all the difference because when it comes to controlling information, spinning the results, or in essence creating a "commercial" for your product, they will not be fooled. There is too much raw data out there for them to require your take, they will come to their own conclusions and they will plaster their findings throughout their electronic realm and expose your efforts - good or bad - to millions of their peers. Less than honest projects have withered on the vine under such scrutiny while little known offerings have gathered worldwide interest and support that no advertising blitz could hope to match.

Game producing companies have long learned to not only be respectful of this unusually aware customer base but to harness their energy and involve them in the production run. This takes many forms from forthright presentations and interviews of the product at all stages of development, beta testing and demo releases from which criticism is given special attention, and frank follow-up where project leaders discuss hardships and shortcomings, even going so far as to apologize when a game doesn't deliver all it promises. There are no other mediums that have had such built-in measures of accountability right from the get-go.

A daunting undertaking for the businessman perhaps but a point of pride for the artist because passion is what clearly drives a great many game-makers. They love their work, love being on the cutting edge of technology, and love telling their stories in ways that humanity hasn't yet experienced. They know the truth for they have looked it in the eye; video game entertainment is the next big thing, really big. We're talking movable type, motion pictures, and then interactivity. It's going to be one of the big three when history looks back on how our species entertained and educated ourselves.

They're also serious business. The alchemy of fun is trying to be decoded with some interesting scientific results. The upcoming Halo 3 is getting treated to some of the most exhaustive and innovative testing methods available. I'm curious to see if all this analysis will result in a superlative game experience. Is there a soul in the machine or is it the artist that infuses it with but a keystroke?


Ryan said...

Great review.

A tome to slathering game fandom underpinned by an astute, topical take on the culture of media which surrounds, promotes and births works of art like Bio Shock?

That's all I need for my blue chip dollar.

For everything else, there's high functioning retards, Southern Baptists (but I repeat myself) and Masterfuckingcard.


Dyno said...

High functioning retards?!?!?!?


I love you man.