Fuck your politics, video games are much more important right now.

This is kind of an introduction piece for me, it definitely isn’t going to be what I normally write. My objective now is to display my opinions and their reasoning about video games in general. I’m not planning on coming to a point, or saying anything bold and new. I’m just laying out the details before I make a real review of something.

Video games are an expressive medium, but not the same type as movies or books. A game requires both the artist and the audience to play a role, and something is expected out of both parties. It’s a dance performed between the developer and the player. First, the developer teaches rules (maybe through tutorials, or easy levels), then, the player demonstrates their knowledge of these rules, to which the developer raises the stakes or introduces a new rule.

Teaching may be important, but more important is the testing. For each skill the developer teaches the player, they must also test the player. Testing is usually done with hard levels or boss fights, and is usually obvious to the player. This could be a reason why bosses with puzzles or gimmicks that distract from core gameplay can be so jarring. If the boss isn’t testing a rule the developer taught, the only other reason for it being there is maintaining the pace.

It doesn’t take too many searches on howlongtobeat.com to realize that games are long. Sure, there are some short games out there, but for every Portal there’s a Dragon Quest VII. Throughout the 20-30 hours than an average game lasts, the developer has to make sure the time spent playing is enjoyable. Even then, having the same gameplay for that period of time approaches monotony. If the player isn’t treated to some opportunity to relax, or do something new, the developer risks a lost and bored audience.

“You forgot something,” you shout at the screen like an idiot, “aren’t games supposed to be fun?”

Of course they are, they’re made for entertainment, that’s why people play them. Then, why didn’t I cover that element?

Anyone can be entertained by anything, if they have the right mindset. Watching a shitty movie with a friend is usually a good time, and so can playing a game. To extend that, if there is any modicum of skill involved in a task, it can be utilized for competition or sport. I don’t think I would be in the minority if I said Sonic ’06 was a bad game, but that doesn’t mean you can have loads of fun playing it with a friend.

So the fun factor can safely be discarded, it has no bearing on how good the game is. I’m not saying you shouldn’t have fun with a bad game, or will always have fun with a good one. I care most about its ability to teach, test, and keep a pace. I also have no emotions so that might be a factor.

There it is, an over-analysis of video games as an artistic medium, done by giving few specific examples and many generalizations. Again, this isn’t what I’ll usually cover. What I want to do is deep anal ysis for specific games, especially games I like that have really good design. Super Metroid is one of these, which I’ll be doing next. So if you haven’t played the game yet, do so ASAP if you don’t want to be left in the dust.

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