Defining Games, Part I: ‘Culture’

Gaming is evolving, changing at a rate unseen in any entertainment sector before. We owe this to our symbiotic link with technology – as technology gallops forward, games struggle to extract the full potential granted by their form. At a time when the classic console game is being rivalled by niftier mobile apps and cheaper browser games, I thought it apt to take a step back and examine where games are now, and where they could be going.

I sat down with Dr James Smythe (Guardian Columnist, Creative Writing Lecturer, Videogame Narrative Designer & Author), and asked him just that – where are games now, and where are they going? Along the way, we managed to cover the tricky old issue of ‘are games art’, and explored the potential for storytelling that many games possess.

It’s an interesting point Dr Smythe ends on, there; that ‘the next generation’ are inheriting the culture that we pass on. I’m 21, and have grown up with games all my life; in fact, I’d go as far as saying that games helped raise me. My editors – real adults – have gamed all their lives, too, and now have a baby that will grow up in an environment where games are not only accepted, but championed. Fast-forward twenty years when this generation of tech-savvy young adults have grown up respecting and interacting with games, and you’re going to get a resurgence – a gaming renaissance, even. There was a fantastic video published by the Beeb on 21st January about how pensioner Hilda Knott uses games to ‘keep herself mentally active.’ Hopefully, in a few years’ time, we’ll have more articles like that, and less people likening video games to child molesters.

We’re in an interesting place with games right now, on the cusp of a technological revolution (re: the advent of next-gen), and with developers becoming more self-aware of games as a form.

As a 12 year old, I couldn’t imagine any greater game than Final Fantasy VIII. nine years later, as a 21 year old, I can’t fathom a story more stunningly told than Mass Effect, a world better looking than Dishonoured, a game more playable than Pokémon.

I can’t wait to see what the next nine years have in store.

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  1. Edward Edward says:

    This was brilliant, superbly edited and I can’t wait to see more :D

  2. Nate says:

    Dom, this is only slightly off-topic, but I read your article on Nietsche’s philosophy in gaming, and I Could Not get out of my head the vast similarities between his beliefs and the basic message(s) of Bioshock Infinite. Could you comment on this? I havn’t found any other site that says much of anything on this topic (and it’s blatently obvious).

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