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AfroWalrus avatar 9:05 PM on 11.21.2009  (server time)
Walrus Thoughts on Why Games are not Movies or Books

Most people here want video games to be a super-respected medium up there with Movies and Books and Oprah, yes? Yes, so do I. We often talk of interactivity, or immersion, or atmosphere, or choice. "One day," nerds across the world whisper to each other in the dark tunnels of the Internet, "One day video games will be respected by everyone. And then we will say 'Told you so'."

Only not, because game players can't agree on anything, ever.

United we Stand, Divided we Fanboy

Video games, as far as I know, is the only medium which divides itself into multiple, completely different ways of enjoyment. The lines are so thickly drawn between the PS3, Xbox 360, and Wii that the community has been plunged into a guerrilla civil war. The three main consoles (with a tip of the hat to that old veteran, the PC) are so vastly different that they might as well be separate mediums themselves.

It's a situation unique to video games. Books don't have the Book 360 or the Super Book Advance or the Book Portable. There's just... Book. People don't argue what DVD player they use to watch movies because in the end they all do the same thing: play the gosh-darn movie. You watch a movie, that's the end of it. You read a book, that's the end of it.

Comic books. Comic books are books, right? But they aren't the same as a 500-page novel. They're a different way of doing the same thing in the same medium. The same thing is true of the different consoles. They all play video games, right? But the difference between a Wii and PS3 is sort of the same between books and graphic novels.

What the Hell is a Video Game Anyway

In fact, when it comes right down to it, what is a video game anyway? There's things like Modern Warfare 2, with a sweeping storyline and 3D graphics and music and lots of buttons to push. There's things like Canabalt with only one button, 2D graphics, and no story. Do we define video games based on interactivity? If so, we'll have to include those minigames that come with movie DVD's where you push one button every two minutes.

Is it based off of the platform it comes out on? Many hardcore gamers dismiss Wii games for being "shovelware" and "carp". They aren't real video games, because there isn't ten buckets of blood and chainsaws. Others say that Metal Gear Solid 4 and Uncharted 2 aren't game-y enough because they are too much like movies and should be more interactive.

Where are the Brakes on this Rant?

I guess the moral of this story is: video games are such an evolving, changing, innovative medium that it's hard to pin it down long enough to give it any respect. It's like a small child that keeps bringing you tidbits, but runs off again before you can congratulate/berate it, and eventually brings you the Mona Lisa and a sample of Uranium-235. It's like a bird dropped out of the nest that's trying all its different muscles before it finds the ones it needs to fly.

I'm not saying video games shouldn't branch out and try new things, because innovation is great. I'm not saying we should consolidate consoles (alliteration ftw), because the industry needs competition to keep itself going. But I do think that constant bickering between ourselves over which console is better, or which games aren't really games, isn't going to bring us any closer to a world where video games are respected.

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