Video games are more than High Score

Melisa 2022-07-16 21:47:24

Watching High Score these two days is like going back to the Games 101 lecture every Monday night two years ago. Because it is the only class on the Washington Square campus, I have to take the school bus from BK to Manhattan. I try to write down all the points that are not on the slides to cope with the quiz in the lab on Wednesday. At the end of the mid-term, when I was reciting the release year, platform, and producer of more than 100 games, I complained in my heart every day, but now I think about it very much. After graduation, I became an indie seriously and gradually realized that the knowledge that I thought was useless at the time was so important. To understand history is to answer two questions: Who are we? And, who will we be?

A simple player may not need to think about this question, but every game developer can't help but ask himself: what is a game? In fact, compared to the 20th century, video games have indeed rarely produced huge innovations in the last ten years. Technology is constantly improving, and AAA games are going further and further in simulating real-world visual effects and physical effects; visual novels have evolved into a new category of interactive movies, by providing a large number of choices and storylines, trying to provide players with the most minute details. input creates convincing feedback. But twenty or thirty years ago, a new idea itself had the potential to create a new genre of games. From Doom to COD to form FPS, from Colossal Cave Adventure to the adventure game genre, from Space Invaders to Super Mario to various platform games today. The white space left for developers is getting smaller and smaller. Are there any developers who dare to say: "I'm going to make a game that no one has seen before"? The game no one has seen may have been Doom 20 years ago, but today it is really "the game no one has seen".

For game designers, design content can be roughly divided into systems and content. The system determines the category of the game, and the content determines how this game is different from other games in that category. And the more content elements that can be replaced in a category, the stronger the vitality of the category. For RPG, developers only need to design a new character, a new world view and background story, plus a system with some features, players will have enough motivation and willingness to pay for this new game. But when it comes to fighting games, Tekken and Street Fighters are pretty much everything players want to see. When pure content innovation can no longer satisfy players, developers can only rethink system design. The easiest way involves merging the two categories, such as rhythm dungeon (however, designing this game is not easy); the harder one, like Baba Is You and The Return of Obra Dinn, builds the game around the new game mechanic. For the latter two games, because the content and mechanism are very closely integrated, the replaceability of the content is very poor.

The continuous innovation and exploration of the mechanism is also the direction that most independent games are exploring today. But mechanism design is the most labor-intensive and least guaranteed path to success. As a game developer dissatisfied with the status quo, it's hard not to feel lost in the future of gaming. Because of confusion, I will ask: What is a game? Why do we like to play games? What exactly do we get from the game?

Games are not new. Go in East Asia, Mancala in East Africa and Senet in ancient Egypt all have thousands of years of history. Throwing the handkerchief, hide-and-seek and grabbing a chair were all games I played with my friends when I was a kid. So-called short-lived new things are just "electronic" games. As an entertainment medium that has only appeared in the last 50 years, video games have been developing new branches with the update of technology, but fundamentally, they can never be separated from the mutual influence of culture and society. There isn't a thing that's just fascinating in games and unappealing in real life, it's just that most people don't get it in real life. The player gives the machine some input, and the machine provides some feedback, which to a certain extent satisfies the player's higher-level needs (social, dignity, and self-realization in order) in addition to physiological and safety needs. Simply put, the game is like this thing. The way to meet these needs can be difficult or easy. Players who don’t like PC games and some mobile games may feel that they meet people’s low-level needs in an overly simple way. Therefore, although anyone can find happiness in the game, as a designer, if you want players to get something more layered and valuable in the game, and even hope to express themselves through the game, you have to live more tired. a little.

By the way, another feeling I have about the documentary is another sentence at the end of High Score: "…more importantly, any player could be a game creator". Anyone who can design a good game must love to play it? Possibly, but likeability and design ability are not directly proportional. Design ability, not limited to game design, requires something else: empathy, logic, aesthetics, a willingness to deny yourself, and some desire for self-expression.

Looking back at history, it is easy to ignore the role of the individual in it and move closer to the grand narrative. For every game developer, her life and expressive desires are never disconnected from game design. Unfortunately, the history of video games is still a history of white males (males in Japan, but the nature is no different), even if these white males are mostly seen as nerds rather than traditional elite images. It can also be felt that High Score is trying to make political correctness efforts in this history: within the scope of choice, it has found transgender, gay, female, Asian and black minority groups/ethnic groups as interviewees. However, most of the key figures who still cannot change the "irreplaceable" are still white men. Minorities who do not speak for themselves, or who cannot speak for themselves, will only have a vicious circle, which will continue to be deliberately forgotten by the majority that make up history. But a creator with a special identity, as long as he does not deliberately imitate others or obliterate himself, his work must have his own identity imprint. (But for the same reason, I don't really like domestic games that follow the route of history/martial arts/nostalgic culture. I think there is a little escapism from key issues)

What the future of gaming will look like may not be answered until the future becomes reality. More advanced technology brings players more and more limited sensory shock rather than fun. Technology also doesn’t have to aim to simulate reality. In the arcade era, people kept putting coins into machines to get higher scores; today's games have turned to exploring emotional communication and discussing social issues. At the same time, if we can give the power and power of creation to a group of people who don't have them, whether it's video games or other industries, there will be at least some more possibilities in the future.

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