Sunday, July 20, 2008

Video Games as Jazz

This is from an interesting post over at Versus CluClu Land about how videogames could be compared to jazz. You should definitely have a read through it.

It got me thinking though about my manifesto (seriously, it is coming) and the kinds of videogames I like. I have noticed a general trend in Western videogame design towards empowering the player more and more in their games. In fact, a lack of this empowerment can sometimes be a detriment to the game's reception by the both reviewers and the general public. And, like my rant two posts ago about the kinds of people that play most videogames, it makes me wonder whether this is as a result of western society's values and ideals.

Individualism is prized highly in my own experience of the West, and it makes sense for them to want that in their videogames as well. In Nigeria, I am still not sure what exactly is prized here. On the one hand, people expect conformity, and in fact too much individualism is generally frowned upon. You are a 'troublemaker' in most people's eyes if you want to forge ahead on your own too often. Women are expected to follow a proscribed path and behaviour, and men are fixed in their roles and their allowable faults. On the other though, people here speak their mind and do not kowtow to anybody when push comes to shove. We are a proud (and slightly arrogant) people. Our wants matter. What kinds of games would we make?

I want to make games that subvert the player's will. This I guess ties in with my mindset. Freedom is all well and good, but I believe that the freedom to do whatever one wants is not really true freedom at all. And feeling entitled to it is also quite frankly a bit immature I feel. If I can affect even just one player of any game I make, and have them look at what freedom is and alter their outlook on the world, I will be happy.

Great jazz music can make one look at one's life, and playing and listening to jazz can lead to a greater expression and appreciation of higher things. I think something like Killer 7 is like both kinds of jazz. There may be only one way to play it, but at the end, everyone has their own idea of what happened in the story and why they were doing what they were doing. This may be the ideal to follow. Neither classicist nor improvisational jazz is basically necessarily better than the other, so maybe fusing the two into some sort of complementary paradox is the way for me.

No comments: