If video games were High Art, could we tolerate them?
"In 2016, humanity reached peak Sad Video Game. I think it will never be equaled."
You should not challenge the Devil like that!
"When your parents are distant, for whatever reason, they tend to stay distant. This is the reality of aging. People often get more remote and strange as they get old, not less.".
My father always been a distant person, as he got older, it really doesnt feel much different. He married and divorced several times so go figure.
I appreciate your perspective on honesty in the narrative vs marketability and financial success.
I actually felt similar dissonance on playing through It Takes Two and thinking... I bet they stay together, but I hardly think they would, or should. While I enjoyed the gameplay, the story didn’t seem to end honestly. Sometimes, an honest ending is sad, and sad is bad for sales.
I also resonate with publishing at imperfect piece of writing, just to get it out the door! We are often our harshest critics. Thanks for sharing.
Have you ever played the Deponia series? I find the main character in that to be a complete asshole to the point that I played the first entry and hated him, I tried the second hoping he would turn over a new leaf and become likeable but he stayed an asshole. I will never go back to play the third entry and I will think twice about any game made by the same developer due to that unlikeable character.
I've been on team "yes games are art" for like 20 years, and I think this is the first piece in the "well, it's at least complicated" direction I've seen that really updated on me about this. I like that this lays out constraints on what kind of art it's possible for various types of games to be.
That said, there's plenty of TV shows that are as long as God of War and are depressing and seem to be at least pretty popular. I notably haven't been eager to watch all of them, and Game of Thrones eventually veers towards the more power-fantasy-ish direction. (I admittedly haven't actually watched Breaking Bad or seen The Walking Dead through to completion)
There's a place for video games to be High Art, but you're quite right that High Art is not something that the common person is going to enjoy all the time.
I've played a few games I think were High Art or at least pretty damn close for the medium: Disco Elysium, SOMA, Call of Cthulhu - Dark Corners of the Earth, Metal Gear Solid 3.
Call of Cthulhu had some horrible rough edges but in general for the time I thought all of them were quality entertainment, too. All of those games are also horribly depressing and one has provoked existential crises in a large number of people.
Most of the time though, I want something fun and enjoyable that leaves me feeling I left the world of the game at least a little better off than it was, and that's why even though I know people don't really change very often I would like to see things like Kratos changing for the better. I do think there's _room_ for both kinds of experiences, but being honest I'm going to want the sappy feel good power fantasy more often than the high art depressing or super thought provoking game.
"Some also dream of using video games for political commentary."
Wait. Are Spiderweb games not intended as political commentary? I tend to view nearly everything you make as several steps above average on the ol' politically-charged-ometer, and the Avadon and Queen's Wish games more overtly so.
I was so disappointed with this game that I started my own Substack just so I could have somewhere to complain about it: