Friday, June 28, 2013

How to Prove that Games "Matter": A Short Ramble

at 2:26 PM
Hey bloggeroos, been a while. I have been asked to write a post for today, because we do not want to have too many days lacking content. Unfortunately, I have six hours of a grad class today and then a rehearsal dinner later on, so I have to write this post while I am supposed to be learning about how to teach women's history. Today, your filler post will consist of me talking about the value of video games.

Although this story will be featured on a forthcoming Terranigma Let's Play, it is somewhat important to set the stage. A few months ago, I went down to visit my friend's small, Catholic college in Dallas. My friend proceeded to introduce me to every girl he knew as, “My single friend, Paul” (Sadly, Ezio is not my real name). I laughed it off every time he did it, but one girl took it very seriously. After being introduced to the girl, she asked me how I knew my friend and then asked me if I, “Would permit video games in my child's household.” Being more than a little dumbfounded, I simply said yes, to which she replied, “Oh, then, you won't do.” She tried, poorly, to play it off as a joke, and after we parted ways I tried to figure out how she both considered me for a husband and then dismissed me within the span of thirty seconds.

This story kind of has a point. Maybe. How do you communicate to people that video games are not evil to people who are unfamiliar with playing games? Discussing this with some friends we came up with three different attacks on video game ignorance: its ability to act as a challenge that can “better” us, its merit as “art”, and its “value”. Each of the three of us came up with representative games to prove our arguments.

G-Dubs talked about how arcade games were testaments of skill, with their recording of your scores, and what have you. You can clearly show improvement through increasing the number of levels you can complete and through reaching the leaderboards. Video games, therefore, are worthwhile, because you are spending time making yourself better at a craft.

"And while the law of competition may be sometimes hard for the individual, it is best for the race, because it ensures the survival of the fittest in every department." - Andrew Carnegie 
Because I have been brainwashed by the humanities, I obviously took the “art” angle. I suggested games like Bioshock and Limbo which are narratives that are good, but would not really work in another medium. They are impressive enough of games that people cannot dismiss them as childish, off-hand, and let you form your argument that the stories they are telling are just as important as novels, paintings, etc.

SJ attempted to demonstrate their value by showing cultural importance and ubiquity through a game like Starcraft. Everybody knows about the televised games in South Korea and how it created a celebrity culture there. It is impossible to dismiss games as being worthless when you can empirically show its impact on society.

Which argument do you think is the most convincing? Can you think of better games to use as examples? Should I care that my professor is noticing that I am typing a lot even when it does not seem like I should be? Will I ever get back to my whole archetypes in roleplaying classes mini-series? Find out next time on Dragon Blog Z. (Or leave a comment)


  1. I'm pretty sure I said this in the Terranigma vid, so again, double-dipping here, but this is such a retarded conversation. It's really two separate (retarded conversations). The first is that narrative games are narratives. If you don't understand the societal and personal value of narratives, okay - look, jingle keys! There's no need to justify games independently from other narrative media. Though we have become accustomed to movies, books, music, etc., there are no canonical means of delivering a story. Those are just the ones we're used to. Unfortunately, the misleading label "games" lead people away from understanding that the majority of our medium falls under this umbrella.

    Competitive video games (those truly warranting the term "game") are a different beast, but there's still no reason to single them out among countless other non-productive pastimes. How is Tetris any more pointless than soccer, chess, or jigsaw puzzles?

    I mean, I think maybe we're straw manning this idiot's original point (don't know, wasn't there), in that the only objection I can see to video games is the misconception that they promote violence. But that is specifically an objection to violence - intrinsically linking that with games is as simple as being misinformed. It's the equivalent of banning music because you don't like when Rap People talk about their Black Problems.

    1. "Respectability is a terrible thing for any art form. People wrote better novels when the cultural status of the novel was contested."
      --John Lanchester on how people do not consider video games as art