Monday, March 28, 2005

World of Warcraft

For those of you who are interested in World of Warcraft you can listen to Blizzard's chief storyteller here at NPR. Among other things he talks about how the medium of video games is still in its infancy and who knows what great works it might produce. Specifically he says that computer / video games have yet to produce their Moby Dick.

I don't know what to think about that, myself. I can certainly think of games that have stuck with me, and other games that haven't. Age of Empires II. Starcraft. Jedi Knight (Dark Forces II). Half Life. Grim Fandango. Some of those games had really interesting stories to tell (Grim Fandango and Starcraft). Some had interesting ways to tell a story (Half Life). Age of Empires II, on the other hand, had no story at all to speak of. And yet I played it a million times. It's game play was smooth and enjoyable (nothing like seeing your archers cut down the enemy before they got close).

The other problem is technological innovation and game play improvements. Anybody playing World of Warcraft and then going back and playing Everquest would notice, of course, the graphical difference. But there are also different design elements. People play each others games, and if one company comes up with an advance, most other games will eventually borrow it. Does that mean that, say, Diablo is no longer any fun to play?

I guess I'm just rambling at this point. How do we judge good art verses hack art? The standards are different in each genre. A great film works differently than a great painting. And reading a great book is a different experience than listening a great symphony. Mull it over and get back to me.

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