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November 2010
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chris/CO149 [userpic]
a biographical repost. or a repost with biographical notes. Or something.

sgtred turned up this gem, a Gamers' Manifesto which is as fine a survey of the produce of the current video game industry as I've ever seen. Read it.

Now the boring biographical bits. I don't play video games. Never do. Oh, I played Pong and Tank and Space War (all against other humans) and spent a while bonking into monsters in rogue(6) back before anyone had heard of Unix. I even racked up over 11,000 points playing Asteroids once.

And every time I did, I was really glad to get back to the 3-D universe I was born in. There was never an adequate substitute for reality for me. I have looked. This manifesto does a fine job of articulating what I've never been able to say for myself, to-wit: "Maybe you guys just can't replace my reality with a good fantasy." Probably I'm a tough sell. Too sensitive. I can tell the difference in width between two hairs at 50 paces; it's impossible to code effectively below the level of "coif".

Many of the complaints in the manifesto have to do with immersion failures. And to me immersion is critical. If you can't control my sensorium fully, completely and in detail, you're not going to pull me off the streets and into the TV set. (And truly, if you can control me that well, I'd rather you be a human than a program. Safer and more fun!)

And that's the story, in a nutshell, of a guy who's been in computers for over 25 years and doesn't like video games. I can't even really see the connection. Shoutz to the good sergeant for helping clear that mystery up for me.


I also don't care much for video games. I have occasional bursts where I'll enjoy Pac Man or Tempest for a while, and I got sucked into the Fallout universe for longer than I expected (but not long enough to finish the game), but on the whole... eh.

I think it's probably safe to say that video games (that is to say, games which contain purely graphical elements) will not, in our lifetime, achieve a significant level of immersion. Ok, except for solitaire. This is why I like games that don't even try--games that emulate the experience of playing two-player D&D, for certain values of "emulate" and "player".


You'll never see Infocom's graphics on any computer screen. Because there's never been any computer built by man that could handle the images we produce. And there never will be. We draw our graphics from the limitless imagery of your imagination - a technology so powerful, it makes any picture that's ever come out of a screen look like graffiti by comparison.

To some extent, I even like games with limited graphics. Wasteland, with its blocky 8-bit graphics, is one of the best computer games I've ever played, and one of the only graphical games I've played all the way through. (I'm sure it's no coincidence that I like the Fallout universe, since it's the direct descendant of Wasteland.)

But games where it's clear that the developers wanted you to be more impressed by the graphics/framerate than the storyline or gameplay? Bleh.