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What is the Games Industry Missing?

Started by droqen, May 21, 2024, 10:42:41 AM

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a brief aside. my mom sent me an hour long video by someone talking about personal finance because, i think, she worries about me and my personal finances. haha. anyway, the speaker seemed like not a total scam artist and so i said cool and asked, has he written anything?

she said no. "he prefers to speak," she said, to which i responded, "darn. i prefer to read."


i watched Pixel a Day's video 'Starseed Pilgrim and The Void' a while back and really enjoyed it, for reasons that i tried to tell myself were not wholly fueled by ego. here is another video that i think is along the same vein, and i was about to watch it, when what do you know -- i stumbled upon a transcript! an official transcript.

a transcript of a video is not the same as a nice chunky tome or even an essay and i understand that by reading a transcript i am not receiving the full effect of the video. i am missing things, for sure. but as i said to my mom.

i prefer to read.

thanks, kat, for publishing the transcript. i appreciate it.




QuoteAnd that's how you end up with a survey that contains five questions about how much you love munching loot and collecting knick knacks and cheevos, and not a single question about how much you delight in inhabiting someone else's unique artistic vision.

ouch. So, because I was invited to do so, I re-took the quantic foundry test. It was actually pretty fascinating to see the results -- I expected my results to be very different from my results from years ago.

I believe I took the test in 2016, based on the games I chose as my 'favourites'. It's now 2024, eight years later.

Here's the results.


I really truly fully expected a massive shift. And there was a change... I went from ACROBAT/BARD to BARD/ACROBAT. My 'community' motivation went up a bit. My 'mastery' motivation went down a bit. But really... very little changed. I've remained relatively consistent.

Anyway, I too noticed a lot of questions about things pretty specific to Gamer Identities and not many useful for understanding my enjoyment of other tastes.

I expect it's hard to get something like this right. Taste can be recursively, fractally, complicated. There is no end. There is a resolution problem, if you will.


QuoteA survey that asks you four times how much you enjoy being challenged mechanically, and not once how much you enjoy being challenged emotionally.


Kat goes on to say the problem is the ouroboros... the demographic ouroboros that has been discussed throughout this section. Bias has a positive feedback loop.


There's a feeling I'm interested in chasing down. Kat begins with an anecdote regarding an exec's flawed perspective on black women and horror movies. Throughout the transcript, Kat writes about the white male identity's centrality to games.

Quotethe "games are for dudes" dudes

Oh, there's youth, too! The age bracket:

Quotepeople other than 15–25 year old dudes

Quoteconventional mostly white mostly male mostly young gamers

I have a feeling of... alienation. I don't think it's a unique kind of alienation. I suppose that everyone who experiences the effects of being stereotyped, of being lumped in with a group, of being misunderstood in general, must feel this alienation.

I am only half-white, but I was a 15-25 year old dude (I am now 32) and the direction of discourse that points the finger at white guys, young white guys, has always left me feeling... not confused, but... well, helpless? It isn't that I want to fight on behalf of all young white guys, but what do you do when someone -- not even someone but like, almost everyone you know -- is telling you that the group that you happen to belong to is, for lack of a better term, bad? Especially irredeemably bad? Systemically bad, which is to say that nothing one does as an individual can ever hope to make a difference?

I do not give a shit about young white guys as a group! But I like people. I do not really care about any such assigned groups. The buckets are too big. My loose theory is that the caring, smart people of the internet fall into the trap of using the buckets because it makes it easier to deal with the disgusting, upsetting massiveness of the internet. There are just too many people to care about them all, so that you can only care about buckets anymore.


What a tangent! But a good article/video/transcript, for getting me thinking about these things...



budding theory:
i still think that a major problem with games is that the systems hold the emotions at arm's length. you can play about a hundred games about being a gun dad and maybe you stopped caring about the dad part, but you still like the gun part...

ED.: The bud blossoms. The "games industry's" focus on replayability limits the emotional range of what may be explored down to those emotions which can be experienced again and again without losing their potency. This is the exact set of emotions which do not provoke growth.

kat writes earlier, about the survey again.

Quote. . . never once asks you how much you value games that let you experience any emotion other than adrenaline-fuelled excitement.

There's something about adrenaline-fueled excitement that makes it a particularly dead end emotion. There's nothing to learn from it. Nowhere to grow. Games have those emotions in spades, those loops. People get trapped in them and enjoy slight variations on the same old circular path of feeling.


I wasn't expecting to find such a damning result right away. I thought I would have to work for it. I googled flow theory game design and immediately found this article capturing exactly the negative aspects of game design I wanted to describe in the previous message above.

QuoteLoss of Consciousness: Designing gameplay so that players don't need to over-concentrate on actions, allowing for a seamless merging of action and awareness.

Loss of Sense of Time: Creating engaging activities that make players lose track of time.

. . .

Incorporating these elements can create a deeply engaging and satisfying gaming experience that keeps players absorbed and motivated�

These neutral descriptors make me weep for gamers, and for games.


QuoteAs pointed out by Lucy O'Brien in her piece "Are Guns in Video Games Holding the Medium Back?" [note to self: I should read this], . . . gunplay, and violence in general, are shoehorned into stories that don't support it. Even in games that dare to have a story or a setting that is wonderfully alien or weird, the gameplay layer underneath is often just the same re-used can of SPAM. And no, making a game that has you play the same meat-grinder as always, but now your character feels a bit sad about it, does not count as innovation in this space.

There has been a general response to this which is 'less violence in videogames', but sometimes the violence is...

How do I describe this? We can reskin the systems of violence, but the system-engagement itself seems to be a major problem for me. (See previous post.)


This also looks like a quote from an article I should read:

Quote"What is game design missing? I ask this question not just in terms of cultural elements. Not just in terms of diverse protagonists. Not just in terms of references beyond fantasy and science fiction and modern day warfare. I ask this question in terms of game mechanics and game systems. I ask in terms of adrenaline, dopamine, oxytocin, opioids, and other reward systems. I ask in terms of gameplay that helps a wider range of people understand themselves and their responses to stress and to the world." -Rose Brie Code (2017), "Slouching toward relevant video games"


QuoteRose Brie argues that many potential gamers want soothing experiences, relief from the stress of daily life and the constant overwhelming system shock of hypercapitalism, and artistic works that engage their empathy and their humanity.

~ roleplaying games


QuotePart 5: This Is Not Game Maker's Toolkit

I did not expect to get emotional from reading this but here I am.

It's funny that this was said earlier, I thought it was like, a pithy poke-fun. I quoted it. But now to see it repeated as an actual title of an entire section.

QuoteI'm not interested in telling anyone to shut up and go away, but I do think that it's on all of us to ask ourselves why the games video essay Youtube scene is so overwhelmingly white and male.

There is a part of this quote that makes me feel as though I should shut up and go away. I am white-ish and male, the only demographic, uh, targeted here. Although I have no real attachment to that identity, it is attached to me. That's not what I got emotional about though. Actually, I got emotional about this recognition that I've been feeling for years like I should shut up and go away, for one reason or another. On one hand, I am white(-ish) and male. But on the other, I also feel like I make bullshit games. I'd rather make a little pixel art scene that you look at than I would a little arcade game, but somehow the arcade game always wins out in the arena of my mind of what I ought to make.

The other day I told a friend of mine that I wanted to write a story, and that friend said, yeah, but the thing people actually liked and bought of yours was Starseed Pilgrim.

The ouroboros strikes again.