In a recent article, I discusses a new series at The Escapist called Extra Credits, and the pilot episode that discussed the problems of writing for video games. It turns out that Daniel Floyd and one of his partners, game designer James Flatnow, had gotten their start on YouTube. Beginning as a lecture series for school, it’s evolved to what it is now.
In one episode, which again sparks a Spotlight article, the duo discuss video game controversies. The primary example used in the article wasn’t one of the usual suspects (Mortal Kombat, Grand Theft Auto, etc.) but a game requested by soldiers as a form of semi-biography. The game is called Six Days in Fallujah, a virtual reenactment of events during one of the Iraq War’s bloodiest conflicts. However, this game may not only never see the light of day, but may lead to the end of a video game studio and for no good reason.
Here’s the YouTube video, posted on November 6, 2009.
And here is the interview shows in the piece.Vodpod videos no longer available.
Do NOT click on the fullscreen icon. Something is really funked up here. You should see how long the “shortcode” turned out to be. Apparently, Fox and Vodpod don’t get along, and of course WordPress is picky as to whom it lets embed. Just in case, here’s the link to the video at Fox News.com.
Fox News gets put down for NOT being “fair and balanced”, although those of us who call ourselves Conservatives would say that it’s the so-called “Mainstream Media” that are the biased ones. (Especially MSNBC, which includes one guy I’ve referred to on this very blog as “the Obama Boy”.) I’m not here to discuss politics, but this game, and when it comes to game, Fox News has earned it’s scorn by the gaming community, starting with this debate on Mass Effect. I almost want to go back and look at one of Floyd’s other videos, where he discusses how women aren’t connecting with video games.
While Cooper Lawrence, the author at the center of the Mass Effect flair-up, has since apologized, she admitted to not having played the full game. In the same regards, the mother of the killed Fallujah solider has also not seen the game. There’s plenty of footage on YouTube, including an ABC News report that is fair to both sides. (Thus losing Fox News even more points with the gaming community.) What gets me, however, is that it is the families of those who died who seem to be against the game, but the soldiers who were actually there not only support it and act as consultants but actually went to Atomic Games about putting this out!
This is the part I can’t get my head around. The people who were actually there, who actually saw their friends dieing around them want this game! Why? This is where Daniel and I disagree, and I would point more towards something the Game Overthinker has said in the past.
Video games ARE toys!
Interesting that Floyd brings up my usual turf, comics. He and possibly Flatnow seem to think that it’s the fact that the “general public” think of games as toys. Well, guess what, so is this!
Boy, I never thought I’d post one of these things on this site, but what you have here is called a “RealDoll”. While photographers have used them for models, the majority of purchasers use them for their true intent: sex. Yes, kids, this is a sex toy–correction, a $6,000 sex toy, and it bothers me as a non-sex toy collector that someone is bothered by that word “toy”. Maybe Santa Claus never visited them as a kid or something, but I find it interesting that sexual deviants are willing to call what they use “toys” but a video gamer pulls back in horror like a vampire who just heard the word Twilight.
(That’s $6,000 in US Currency. For that I can buy all five currently available consoles and handhelds, with enough left over to START a decent gaming PC rig.)
As far as “graphic novel”, same issue. Graphic novels are NOT comic books! Graphic novels are big books in a comic layout, whether an original story (which only happens in the independent circuit) or a collection of comic book stories collected into a big trade (what DC and Marvel have turned them into). And here’s a shocker for you. You know Watchmen? New York Times bestseller and the only GN to have that? It started as a comic book miniseries. Gamers, I’m going to tell you the same thing I tell my fellow comic readers:
GET OVER YOURSELVES!
Yes, I know I’m going to take flak for that, and at this point I don’t care. Sorry, but the solution isn’t to rename video “games”, but to try and take the stigma off of the word. You know what else is a game? Baseball! Football! Tennis! That darts game in the bar. The trial law industry…no, that’s just a bad joke. My point is that the word “game” isn’t the problem here. You really think “interactive entertainment” is going to change things? Didn’t you discuss in another video that dividing “education” and “entertainment” has been a bad thing when it comes to “educational games”?
So what is the solution here? People still look down on comic books, even when they’re called graphic novels, just as they do anime, video games, and anything else they don’t understand. While gamers and Western anime fans seem to be fighting to keep them all to themselves, this is doing nothing to help the perception or reach a broader audience. So stop hating on the Wii. It’s the best video game promoter to non-gamers we have and is making people think twice about the format.
Video games have the power to educate and tell a story just the same as any book or movie (say, Johnny Tremain) or song or what have you. We writers, regardless of our chosen format (mine would be comics), should promote the idea of the advantages of our format, not simply attempt to negate or ignore the flaws. Listen to the critics, see if they have a point, and think about what can be done to change their perception. Don’t rename your medium, but embrace it, defend it, and prove your case. You’ll always have the Jack Thompsons and Fredrick Werthems of the world, but the best way to prove them wrong isn’t to insult or ignore them, but to actually TRY to prove them wrong. You love this medium for a reason, and not for the reasons “they” say. You have a better defense than these kids, after all.