This is in response to FinalFist's Blog
which I read after checking out the best of destructoid feature.
I was planning on simply commenting, but as I gathered my responses, I realized that this was more of a blog post than a comment. So, here goes:
As a fellow "child of the computer age", I have to agree with you that games in which the surroundings are presented neutrally would be
subversive. However, I feel that no such game has ever been created. You use KOTOR
as an example of a game with neutrally presented surroundings, but by the very nature of it's being (it's a video game) the main character does not have full neutrality in it's universe. If this character (and by association, the player) could decide to stand still and let the events of the world pass him or her by while, for example, he talked about video games and watched cartoons while getting stoned with his lover then it would be neutral environment. Can you do these things? No, you can't, because this is a game, and the game world revolves around you
As another example: In Dead Rising, if you could just have Frank hole up in the security room and ride out the zombie onslaught until his chopper came back, saying "Fuck this, I'm not fighting any zombies for a Pulitzer (or whatever it is that photographers are awarded)!", then you would have complete control over a neutral, interactive environment. But you don't, have that sort of control... the game won't allow you that kind of control. If you truly did have complete control, you would be able to do anything
Secondly, I have to contend what's said next: "...[video games] should not aspire to anything other than creating new ways of seeing, thinking, and interacting." and that "[video games] should not aspire to become an established center of culture, for then they become the new establishment molding thought...". Would it not be in everyone's best interest if video games were the center of culture and they "molded thought" in a way that would allow others to see, think and interact in new ways? Video games have the potential to be both culturally captivating and culturally revolutionary... if perfection is achieved. Video games could create a focus for the masses to disseminate independent thought and creative thinking... if it aspired for more and was smart.
Video games are the pinnacle of all forms of media: simultaneously bringing the world together while allowing people to express individualism in ways never before possible. A culture based on video games would be one made up of "equals compelled and controlled by no one."
Finally, in response to your statement that "Gaming is becoming more of an establishment every day. Increasing production costs are now creating an environment in which more established corporate entities decide what to create opposed to more creative independent minds." I say that independently developed
games are published constantly on the internet. Also, home brew game developers are now creating original, innovative, interesting content on emulation software for hardware without a copyright... Free, independent, 16-bit quality games.
The base level of gaming is growing at a rate that it can support it's heavy top end
, and this trend will continue and grow stronger. There will be games for people on all ends of the financial and cultural spectrum, and that is a good thing. As the industry grows, so does our influence on the world.
EDIT: Repost, since noone is up at 3am EST.