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The importance of writing about video games

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I feel like it’s too early and meta for me to already be writing about why it’s important to write about video games when I’ve barely written anything myself but I deem it necessary. Video games are a unique medium. A very unique medium and art form. And the weird thing is that by calling it an art form would already raise red flags from a lot of “scholarly” folk who disagree. And that’s why we need to write about games. People don’t understand and we need to make them understand why video games are so much more than apiece of entertainment or something to pass the time because they are so much more. They aren’t just shooting things and they aren’t teaching the children to become violent (they are probably teaching them to be less violent but whatever). They have the ability to be emotional, make the player feel things, make the player think things. They aren’t mindless nor are they solely for children and it’s really absurd that so many people deny games the right they deserve.

Literature is held highly. Film is held highly. Why aren’t video games? Video games are becoming a bigger and bigger industry every year and frankly, they are doing better than the film industry. So why are they still being denied the analysis they deserve except from a very small circle of writers? Is it not strange? I certainly think it is. Let’s take a look at two games that came out last year, The Last of Us and Bioshock Infinite. To me, both games-triple A titles-did something really important. For one thing, they sold a lot of copies. Both of them were really successful and were also prime examples of moving the medium forward. Even if you didn’t like the games you have to admit that they did some things extremely right. The Last of Us, despite still using cutscenes heavily, told a raw human story. Bioshock Infinite, despite some repetitious combat, told a sophisticated, open to interpretation story similar to the likes of films like 2001: A Space Odyssey or Fight Club. We don’t have many games like them especially in the realm of triple A titles.

Most triple A titles are afraid to take risks, it’s hard to take risks because of the money involved. So how can these games aren’t discussed beyond the level of just gamers? How many nongamers looked into Bioshock Infinite or The Last of Us? Very little I can assume. Where as you take a film like Gravity, Her, or 12 Years a Slave, they are everywhere being discussed. I find the whole thing kind of strange that these games don’t get proper analysis beyond smaller websites and even a lot of mainstream games media don’t get overly analytical with video games like they should. I think we need risky material. We need material willing to get into the depths of video games. And that’s where the writers come in.

Writers need to get very in depth and analytical with these games just as much as literature and film are. Explore and analyze the themes of games like Bioshock Infinite or Journey or The Last of Us. Why does the gameplay help emphasize the story or maybe explain why it does not? I don’t think we need just simple reviews telling you why or why not you should buy a video game-which are still important-we need in depth looks. I just hope that people begin to write more in depth and I hope that video games get the respect as an art form-not just the money-they deserve (that or I’m just taking this thing way too seriously which is probably also true. Video games are dumb and melt your brain, remember that kids).


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