A Problem In Video Game Scholarship

modern_warfare_2_fire_490

I’ve said it a million times and I’ll probably say it a million more: Video games as a medium are constantly being dumped on. Too many people write them off as children’s toys, unworthy of serious attention and potential for analysis. That’s part of the reason why I’m writing my senior thesis on the modern military shooter genre. I want video games to be taken as seriously as any piece of literature or any film could be. In my thesis, I’m looking specifically at Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and Spec Ops: The Line and analyzing their uses of violence and how they justify themselves. What’s sad is that it seems like a lot of other critics and scholars aren’t willing to put similar time and effort into seriously analyzing the works about which they’re writing.

Often critics will overly simplify and generalize their discussions about games. Many readings of modern military shooters approach games of this genre merely as extensions of the US military complex, ignoring other narrative or ludic nuances embedded in them.…

Continue Reading

Organic World Building Done Right

Ash Lake

When I reflect on what’s missing from a lot of games these days, my first thought is “a cure for my crippling loneliness.” My second thought? A sense of discovery and mystery, of finding and uncovering of my own accord pieces of a game’s lore and world. I like going into a world that feels real, one that feels like it wasn’t created with my satisfaction in mind, but rather could have organically existed without my participation. A game shouldn’t have to spell everything out for me, because its job shouldn’t be to please the player. Not all games have to be fun. Games can be more than just things to do in order to pass the time; they can be challenging, emotionally engaging, thought provoking, and even sad. Not every game needs to make me excited, it just needs to succeed in its own right in whatever it sets out to do. Help from the game or being given a sense of power is nice sometimes, but I usually don’t want a game to hold my hand.…

Continue Reading