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Inventing the paint: An interview with author Tom Bissell


Farcry 2 was one of those nebulous games that didn�t quite hit the market like it should have, but a few fans completely swear by its expertly done open-world design and huge player freedom. You seem to feel this way too. Why do you think it didn�t take off like other big-name titles? Is too much freedom in games a bad thing?

I don't know. I think it sold 2.5 million copies across its three platforms, which is a lot of games sold. I think it's probably too slow-moving for a lot of gamers, and involved too much driving from one mission point to another. I personally loved moving through that world, but I understand why other people didn't. I'd say the reason it didn't become a huge megahit had more to do with its relatively slow first couple hours more than anything. A lot of people I know said they couldn't get past the first two hours, and put it aside. Thus they never even got into why the game was so goddamned great.

I've played it through seven different times by now, and seen different stuff everything I've played it. But maybe you're on to something with the "too much freedom" angle. It gave you such a big space and so little direction as to how you were supposed to do anything, and I think a lot of people just charged into missions blowing shit up, rather than taking their time and figuring out the best, most elegant ways of accomplishing their task. But anyway--and I say this with all due respect--who cares that it didn't take off like Halo 3? I still say it's the best shooter ever made, and a lot of people agree with that. That ain't nothing.

Finally, being up front, I�ll admit that I still wince a bit when I say the words �I�m a gamer� aloud around people that don�t game. Do you think the medium will get to a place where I won�t have qualify that statement with a lengthy explanation of what it�s like to play Shadow of the Colossus?

Eventually, all the people who sneer at gaming will be dead, and we won't have to deal with them or wince in shame anymore, because even people who don't game will by then understand that this medium has something interesting and compelling about it. I give this process about another decade to come to full fruition. Though it would help if so many of the people who do game seriously weren't such small-minded weirdos about it. I'm looking at you, 80 percent of Kotaku commenters....

Besides writing Extra Lives, Tom Bissell has penned a number of critically acclaimed books. When he's not getting published and contributing to major literary outlets, he teaches fiction at Portland State University.
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About AwesomeExMachinaone of us since 6:13 PM on 07.28.2009

Twenty four years ago I was adorable. Now I'm inquisitive and hilarious.

I have a plastic tooth to replace one lost in a mosh pit during my more ridiculous high school years. I speak shitty German and I ride a bike. My Xbox gets so much use, I'm sometimes embarassed. But I'm unemployed, so my time is spent writing blogs on the internet, reading good literary fiction, and playing video games.

In the grand scale of things, I'm a late-bloomer. My parents banned all consoles from my house as a kid. See what you've done? Now I game constantly to make up for years of lost time.

I won't list my favorites, because you've probably seen ten lists like it before me.

There's a life-sized Boba Fett standee in my living room.

No Clip Series:
Grand Theft Auto IV
Fallout New Vegas
Red Dead Redemption

The Slapstick Cephalopod: An Interview with the Octodad Team
Chicago Night Fights: Marvel vs Capcom 3
Inventing the Paint: An Interview with Author Tom Bissell
Top 10 Greatest Tiny Video Game Characters

Front-Paged Monthly Musings:
Groundhog Day: The Liberty to Pursue
Teh Bias: Critical Errors at Surface Level
Alternate Reality:Time for a new job
Something About E3: Imaginings from 20 Years Ago
The Great Escape: Tiny plastic guitars and wiimotes
My Expertise: Latent Racial Bonus
The Future: Overdoing the Over-the-Top
Love/Hate: A Gentleman's Baffling Love for Collecting Furniture
Nothing is Sacred: Games Taking Themselves Too Seriously

Worth reading:
We Are Destructoid
Writing on the Wall: How Graffiti Builds Universes
Combating Lawlessness in the Wild West of Red Dead Redemption
Being a Coward on Purpose
What Bringing About the Fictional Zombie Apocalypse Taught Me About Game Design
Why Video Game Designers Need to Watch the Road Warrior
The Needless Shit We Gamers Do

Xbox LIVE:The Disco Pony
PSN ID:The Disco Pony


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