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November 15, 2011


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I definitely have the same worry that games lack the depth and breadth to hold the mainstream's attention for very long. But as Warren Spector has previously noted, it's simply a waiting game before we, the generation who grew up on video games, become the so-called mainstream. That's not to say that we shouldn't make deeper, more meaningful games--it's just that I believe time's arrow is on our side.

As an art form or entertainment medium still in its formative years we shouldn't be too harsh on ourselves at this stage. In conjunction with the market expanding into the mainstream the body of work will increase and with that hopefully a few more gems will start to appear.

Games such as Limbo and Portal although different could be considered equally thought provoking and inspiring. Are there any other titles you feel get close to Icos and SOTC artisitic merit?

Here’s hoping there are a few more Team Icos forming as we speak.

Taking the final form of your statement, I think it’s worth pointing out that the dynamics of Shadow of the Colossus in particular leave very little room for creative expression by the player. ICO arguably allows slightly more. Both games, of course, have plenty of room for the technical expression of skill by the player, but they are primarily vessels for the creative expression of Ueda.

I feel that technical expression is much closer to the core of what games are than the player’s creative expression. Being dynamic systems of rules, mastery of those rules is naturally important. There can, of course, be significant overlap: games whose rules enclose a sufficiently broad possibility space lend themselves more readily to player expression, for example in games that have a large tactical component, or ones that enable player creation within the game.

Also we are assuming that there actually is such a substantial portion of non-gaming mainstreamers who would be intrigued enough to plow through say ico, colossus, okami, and flower, and wanting for more be disenchanted and embittered by the dominance of military-realistic on-rails fps and licensed sports titles. Just ticking off those four titles is a 100+ hours project. Of course, sad gamers like us will do that in just a month. But as adults that also requires our very conscious effort to make gaming an essential, prioritized activity. Is there really such an investment-ready crowd out there, wielding agendas with big blanks marked "new massively engaging activity here!", and if so how have they completely missed out on games until The New Yorker started writing about them?

""Finding a way to make the dynamics of play our expression as creators and as artists—to me that’s the only question that matters."

Furthermore, the way I would prefer to express that idea today would be to say,

"Finding a way to make the dynamics of play support the creative expression of players—to me that’s the only question that matters."

With all due respect, I have to say that this is the sin of many born dead games -although from a pure financial point of view many of these failures become so-called successes. Please forget about the multiculturalism of intelligence, or multigence. Trying to please the public, to substitute the artistic creation, the way you see things, the world, and the way your educated conscience transforms all these, instead subduing the public to the creation, forgetting that perfection excludes diversity, is the worst that could happen in this kind of activity -and I don't say "business" for a good reason.
Masses are stupid. You cannot serve Shakespeare to ordinary 10 old kids, they will hate it. People asked about Far Cry 2 " Life itself is will to power? Whadda heck is this?" Of course that they did not like it.
I don't know how desperate your needs are to make money, but I think that because in gaming industry do not exist a strong criticism and powerful references like we have in the movie industry, because this you have to chose which way you go: making games for the sake of art, or trying to please all those lamers who want all games to be variants of their preferred game.

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