Like a Rolling Stone

June 18, 2009

Well, pleasant dreamers, I was going to write this article as part of my E3 meditations, but since so much time has passed since then, it might as well stand on its own. I’d feel bad about making you wait (if any of you were still out there reading, anyway), but as it stands, it’s nice enough to publish a piece like this around Bloomsday (although I missed that by a day, too). Suffice to say, however, that the continuing thoughts I’ve had following the trailer-debut of Fumito Ueda’s The Last Guardian are broad enough to stand without any glint of superficial timeliness. Furthermore, while I’ve been away at revising and reworking my game Limbo (which happens to be the main reason I haven’t posted since last week) those thoughts have arrive somewhat refined and revised as well, as though the act of game-design itself has helped clarify my feelings about a certain gaming trope I’ve been noticing lately.

But before I talk about Ueda’s game, my own game, or even the yearly festivities of Bloomsday, I want to talk about something else entirely: The Come Out & Play festival, and what it has to do with the difference between games & sports, and what that difference has to do with the social atmosphere of gaming in general.

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Halfway through the road of our lives, pleasant dreamers, I found myself in a dense forest– Just kidding. But if you think for a moment that image is unrelated to current events in games, you might want to check out one of Electronic Art’s latest titles: “Dante’s Inferno”, which they announced at last week’s E3. I’m a big fan of Alighieri’s work, and I’ve long considered one day adapting his trilogy of epic Catholic poetry into a game myself. After all, my games are all about interactive dialogue, and what is “The Divine Comedy” but a journey through the afterlife with Virgil as your tour guide?

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Well, another E3 has come and gone, with news, rumors and announcements aplenty. Whenever this time of year rolls around I always find myself a little melancholy, a little left out– while we starving artist folk might wax eloquent about the high minded ideals of indie-gaming, witnessing all the buzz and attention garnered by the Triple A people always makes one feel like you’re on the outside looking in. Granted, it’s not like there isn’t an insanely hypocritical degree of hierarchies within the indie-gaming community, as well, but at least most of the attention there is somewhat insular. But when the mainstream press and television coverage on G4 is brought into the mix, all the discrepancies come floating to the surface, and it’s no longer possible to dismiss the vague subtleties of your useless, unwitnessed efforts. If a tree falls down in a forest and there’s nobody around to hear it, we question of it produces sound. What sorts of questions should we ask of artists, then, whose work go unnoticed? Does a game unplayed count as a game?

Ah, fuck it. I could keep on with this depressive soliliquizing and whatnot, but you all know why I’m really here, pleasant dreamers– Just as I predicted back when I wrote on a blog that people gave a damn about (for whatever reason), it turns out that Hideo Kojima is, in fact, writing, designing and directing a new Metal Gear Solid game: MGS Peace Walker. However, the details of this new title are noteworthy enough beyond my usual Kojima fanboyishness, and alongside some other announcements of the past week, it merits another of my rare returns to this Bob-forsaken blog…

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