Another Reason To Talk To Girls At Parties
written by Randy Smith, September 2005
The gaming press and game developers have an arrangement: they make
us into celebrities, and then they use our celebrity to sell their
magazines. Everyone wins, except arguably the consumer.
it happened that I found myself this past March at a post-GDC
party at Lulu's San Francisco
apartment chatting up one Margaret Robertson, Games Editor of the
UK's celebrated game culture and review magazine, Edge.
In addition to a fiery / ranting discussion about being passionately
opposed to the saturation of violence in interactive entertainment
or something similar, not to mention an hour or two of dry wit delivered
in a charming British accent, so far this connection has scored
me a couple of benefits.
first was the inclusion of my intials on the back of a t-shirt as
part of a "Top Scores" list of all game developers, ever.
Despite pressing Margaret, I never found out what my score was,
nor do I have any proof that this t-shirt exists. If you see it,
my intials are RLS, and of 300, I suspect I'm down in the high 200's,
but let me know.
second and more exciting windfall arrived in the mail this past
July, a box of 10 video games:
it was actually only 9 video games, but we'll get to that part of
the story later.
had agreed to be one of five jurors for the yearly Edge Award. To
we're after is for you to have a look at each of the games, and
decide which three you think do the most to move gaming on. The
old (and rather cumbersome) name of the award was the Edge Award
For Excellence And Innovation, and that idea basically still stands.
We're looking for the games you think either introduce something
new and valuable to gaming, or raise the bar significantly in terms
of quality. Or both, of course.
wouldn't want there to be too much dramatic tension, so here's
how the Award turned out.
be honest with you, I don't play video games much these days. Or
at least, I didn't before I got this package in the mail. With my
amazing producer skills, I quickly deduced the following schedule
observation: with 10 games to play in 15 days, I would have to play
one new game every 1.5 days, or in other words at roughly 100 times
the rate I normally experience new games.
reason I don't play video games as much as I did in my youth is
because I now enjoy and seek out things such as girls, the outdoors,
and parties. Another is because I'm a jaded fuck of a game developer
whose industry insight immediately cuts through the thin veil of
illusion, that which brings magic and joy and fantasy to the fortunate
naive, straight to the underlying technology and probable development
history, which is compelling in an entirely different way than how
powerful the magic of one's mithril broadsword is, or who winds
up being the separated immediate family member of whichever other
the most prominent reason I rarely play new games is because games
tend to be tediously trite derivations of a small handful of basic
interactive paradigms and usually clumsily designed on top of that.
I mean, if you pick a game at random from the shelf at EB and force
me to go home and play it, I'll likely wind up in a frenzy of increasingly
unfair cutting criticisms and frothing at the mouth about the general
decline of gaming innovation. I wish this wasn't true, both for
the sake of those around me who get splattered with the poisonous
vitriol and because I'd rather have this not be the state of the
industry, but sadly it is.
because I am a developer and feel a responsibility to stay
current with those occasional examples of genuine innovation, I've
always been jealous of people like Robin
Hunicke, whose finger seems perpetually on the pulse of the
frontiers of gaming (for example, check out her 9/10/05 post). How
does one go about knowing every potentially inventive game that
comes out? Is there a mailing list? I guess it pays to sift for
gold instead of complaining about all the rocks. Note taken.
so I was genuinely excited to get this package in the mail from
Edge. Edge is a hip, reasonable, and well-written magazine, and
here they were sending me their top 10 list of the most innovative
games of the past year! They did all the research work for me! They
even mailed them to me so I wouldn't have to locate or purchase
them myself! Holy cow! I had sorta imagined that the games would
be more of the sort that appears in Jon Blow's Experimental
Gameplay Workshop, low budget and edgy titles whose interaction
is based around some overlooked game system (such as Rag
Doll Kung Fu) or a wholly unorthodox peripheral (such as Journey
To Wild Divine), but instead Edge's selections seemed to meet
some minimum bar of accesibility and production quality. In other
words, they were largely conventional games, in terms of marketing
and distribution, anyway.
isn't to say that I didn't enjoy the experience of playing these
games and evaluating them for innovation. The effort grew into a
joint 2 week long excursion between myself and some trusted friends,
not unlike the fellowship of the ring, except that rather than journey
the ends of the earth in a nigh-hopeless battle against evil, we
sat on the floor and slogged through a pile of video games.
join us as we chronicle those days.