Thursday, August 15, 2013

Small and Serious Games

Screenshot from NarcoGuerra
My latest PopMatters post is now live: Small and Serious Games.

Sometimes you have to be curmudgeonly about games. While I'm generally a positive fellow, I understand why every now and then, folk have to let out an exasperated sigh when they have to explain some things again. This PopMatters piece isn't actually all that curmudgeonly, but it comes from a similar place. It's another attempt of many to turn an eye on serious games not to somehow make them better, but simply to make more of them.

Many designers in that sector aim high, and many for good reason. Money is scarce for a lot of people. Those who receive government grants or philanthropic aid are competing for pieces of a small pie indeed. To garner attention, they have to make big promises and try to solve huge problems. Their goal is not to make a small, interesting, compelling game, but to raise awareness of one social plague or another among some pre-determined demographic, etc. etc.

None of this is to lay criticism on those who go into game design with clear and measurable goals, but some of the more interesting example of games that model or address real world issues are small, simple affairs. These games are cheap, quick, inspirational, and terribly flawed, but that's exactly what I want to see more of. I want to churn out so much garbage that an industry pops around criticizing them to death. I want games about small communities on the raggedy edge of poverty in Belize, on struggling labor activists in Italy, on the riots in Egypt, and so much more. And, yea, I want most of them to be bad. Its the small ones that make the big ones so much better.

No comments:

Post a Comment