The fish once said: The future of videogames basically relies on two attitudes. The first, well known, is basically the id Software philosophy: more polygons, better enemy AI, cooler shade effects, same old Castle Wolfenstein. And there is nothing wrong with that. I mean, in five decades we will probably still demand the adrenaline rush caused by hunting down monsters in labyrinths. It’s natural, it’s fun and it generally kills stress, as long as you don’t do this at home, kids (home is generally the volume of space in the house minus the one taken by the monitor and tv set).
The second attitude goes like this “we have to figure out the medium”. The most popular approach in this side of the hill is “we need to tell better stories”;”we need to understand how to make more compelling interactive stories”. Personally, I also frequently subscribe to the figuring-out doctrine, even if I don’t buy the story part. But is it possible to figure-out a medium? That would imply that media are things waiting to be discovered, pre-created structures that are hidden deep inside the computer. On the other hand, I don’t think that we should sit in front of our consoles and wait until the darwinian determinism decides how people will be playing in the next years. Is it really possible to push forward the boundaries of game design? Surely, games are getting more complex and interesting things emerge from complexity. But the doubt persists because our actual approach towards games is filtered through the binary, westener, computerscientish lens of “jump/don’t jump, kill/don’t kill” dichotomies. I firmly believe that the potential of the computer is that it is a medium for experimentation. That’s how I understand simulation: a virtual lab or playground to fool around and, more importantly, to make mistakes. Maybe the question goes like this: how do you meta-experiment? How do you experiment with a medium based on experimentation?
Hopefully I'll pay a short visit to Europe on early November. London & Paris + maybe Scandinavia. Will be doing some research&interviews+ludologicaldiscussions irrigated with good coffee/beer/mineralwater through some gamedesignhouses+universities. If any reader out there is organizing a Lanparty in November or wants to trade Pokemon cards, let me know.
Marie-Laure Ryan's is giving a course @ IT-Copenhagen (which, by the way, seems to be becoming one of the -still- few interesting places to do videogame research in the planet) on Ludology vs. Narratology? A critical investigation of the essential aesthetic properties of digital media. Marie-Laure subscribes to the middle-ground theory that games should be placed between ludology and narratology, mostly like cool politicians should be between liberalism and marxism and good superheroes shouldn't be neither batman nor robin. Maybe it's due to a 20th century's sequel on not believing on ultimate truths anymore -even if Georgie W. reminded us that there are two kinds of people, "Good" & "Evil". I should hire that guy as an advisor on cartoon philosophy. Anyway, Marie-Laure may have a valid point, but I don't personally think so for reasons that I have pointed out in several of my papers which are available on this site. This makes me think further on writing a bit more on my ideas on ludology. I have been playing around with the idea of a book for a while now... Anyway, Ryan's course looks like a must and it's too bad that I won't be in Copenhagen next month :(
There are many ways of doing advergaming and product placement is surely the most conservative & less-imaginative one. But it is easy to understand. Even marketing folks can get how it works. So, we will be seeing it as the star of this advergaming prehistory. McDonald's and Intel will be placing their products in the upcoming The Sims Online. Do you want fries with that? (Thanks William Huber)