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Viseratops

The Game is Broken

Untitled by Christopher Locke (2009)

During my research ritual for wwwtxt/@wwwtxt on Tuesday, I stumbled upon a fantastic observation from November 1993 about the decline of [creativity in] computer games:

It was bound to happen. After years of more or less blissful innocence, artful drive, and altruistic passion, corporate America has found, captured, dissected, and degraded the Computer Game. It was a noble thing once: half way between Art and Science, it amused and challenged like no other pasttime. It brought people away from boredom or frustration to alternate worlds, vivid and alive. It was programmed with love, diligence, and a vision for excellence. The Game was meant to be enjoyed. It was crafted to stand alone and independent from its creator, to be sent out into the world with a value all its own. It was forward-looking, progressive, and challenging. 

But now, all that has changed. The Game has been broken. It was pressed into a mold of verifiable and uninteresting funness, marked with a price and passed to the masses. They gave willingly to have it, because it was now a drug to them; a lifeless, empty drug. It helped them to escape for a while, but its mediocrity left them wanting more, though they did not even know how mediocre it was, since they had nothing with which to compare.  What would become of it?   […]

The original poster faces a heavy thread rife with flames—mostly naysayers who feel games were always creatively lackluster and always will be.  But there’s a small minority who agree, and point out that games are less inspiring and requiring less imagination.

It’s almost 20 years later and we’ve experienced some bright moments.  There’s a substantial, productive indie movement too, but there’s also much unexplored potential in the Game medium.  LA Game Space—a project I’ve been developing with Adam Robezzoli over the past 3 years—is largely a response to these concerns.  We aim to set games free, to stoke the creative and experimental fires that have already been started.  Our space will provide the opportunities for games to be created and played without needing to worry about popularity or sell-ability.  And, crucially, our interdisciplinary artist-residents will experience creative friction that will demand the development of new, hybrid forms.

Dexteludicrum repuerasco by Christopher Locke (2009) 

As for the original poster, Jeff Wofford, he’s alive, well, and posted this recently (6,744 days later):

We have to make games. We think about them. We draw them. We write about them. We replay images in our minds—incredible images that we can’t stand for the rest of the world to never see. We have to design games. We long for them to get made.

Some dreams never die.  Here’s to making this one a reality.

images from Christopher Locke’s “Modern Fossils” (2009)