I'm a big fan of John Carpenter's The Thing, and I've been keeping my fingers crossed that the prequel being released tomorrow would be worthy of the legacy set down by the original. Rotten Tomatoes assured me that it wasn't, but I wanted to read a few reviews anyway to get a better sense of what the critics actually thought.
Several minutes of reading later I came across the blurb from the New York Times: "Where the earlier film pulsed with precisely calibrated paranoia and distinctly drawn characters, this inarticulate replay unfolds as mechanistically as a video game." Just as the creature in The Thing hides inside copies of its victims, so too did this venomous comment hide within what should have been an innocuous movie review.
In order to make her point that The Thing is a bad film the author of the article decided to disparage the storytelling capabilities of an entire medium. It makes me angry as both a fan of video games and a firm believer that they deserve just as much respect as film and literature. It's insulting, and it's a practice that needs to stop.
There's little point in arguing the validity of the statement; the "games as art" argument is nothing new. The important thing is that little side swipes at the medium from intellectuals are harmful to gaming's image. Instead of advancing the conversation about the validity of games as a storytelling medium, comments like this are cheap and hinder that conversation by basically saying it is not worth having.
The good news is that this is a phase that most art forms go through. Guillermo del Toro, director of the critically acclaimed Pan's Labyrinth, said about video games, "It's a medium that gains no respect among the intelligentsia. The say 'oh, video games.' And most people that complain about video games have never f***ing played them." Even Shakespeare was considered to be a writer of base entertainment for the masses in his day (and look where he's at now).
For now video games will continue to be disrespected. As time passes new forms of entertainment will come along. Video games will become accepted while these new mediums shoulder the ire that games currently exist under. Until then games and gamers need to soldier forward, secure in the knowledge that gaming will have its day.
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