Once again this has become a popular debate amongst my fellow nerds. What follows is a comment I posted on The Auteurs:
For the most part, Hollywood films are products created with the intention of pleasing as many people as possible, so that they can make that much money through ticket sales. Videogames are even more of a product than Hollywood films — if the gameplay is not enjoyable, the game is considered unplayable. To add to this, the most ambitious game developers aim to create experiences as close as possible to Hollywood films, which — again, for the most part — are really just crowd-pleasing entertainment, like going to a small circus or amusement park. The most well-liked contemporary videogame at the moment is possibly Uncharted 2, which comes across as even more empty and impersonal than the brand of film it attempts to emulate.
Gamers don’t want to be challenged (and I do mean in a different way than level difficulty) by videogames in the same way that the casual moviegoing public do not want to be challenged by art films. They paid their money and want to be entertained. They do not want their dollars to be challenged by someone’s singular artistic vision — they want to be engrossed in an experience made by a company to appeal to not only them but those enjoying the game with them. One of the only instances of artistic alienation in videogames was masterminded by Hideo Kojima with the midway point and ending of Metal Gear Solid 2, a postmodern game that comments on the gamer as much as it comments on its own in-game events. Because of this it was met with a huge backlash from fans. Hideo Kojima learned his lesson. He would not make games that alienated his audience, because gamers do not want their games to be art. They merely want their games to be considered art so that they are no longer questioned with why they spend so much time and money on their hobby.
Why is there so rarely a narrative game that does not involve killing? Why does ‘videogame’ seem to automatically mean shooting someone in the head? There is some wonderful and intelligent dialogue in the film Yi Yi about this. There is no wonderful and intelligent dialogue in a game that comments on either itself or any other medium. It is a closed-off world of meaningless rules, relentless depictions of murder and hackneyed attempts at emotion which rarely reach beyond melodrama or sentiment. There are games that are artistic but there are no games that are honest. One day this may change, but until then we are left with nothing but charming vessels of instant gratification.
My five favourite games:
3. Metal Gear Solid
4. Super Mario Galaxy
5. Jet Set Radio Future