Friday, May 20, 2011

Link Roundup

I've just gone through the last six months worth of notes and drafts and come up with a roundup of interesting reviews and articles I never posted, as well as some new ones:

Also, I started writing the text below last summer, when the article cited was published at the New York Times, and then it fell off my radar for a while and got buried in a rather large pile of interesting drafts "for later."

So, later is finally now.

Games may or may not be art*, but there's no denying that this is:
What if Pac-Man is really a gluttonous German burgher out to gorge himself while dodging the ghosts of those he has so callously wronged, à la Dickens?
What if the pilots in Asteroids are merely profane technicians existentially trapped within a corporation that knows nothing more than to send them into the void to shoot rocks, until they become smaller rocks and smaller rocks, until they become nothing?
In other words, what if the characters and stories of classic video games were reimagined and reinterpreted as live theater in front of you?
The concept of "Theater of the Arcade" is fascinating.  There is nothing new about gamers getting creative with their favorite titles.  But most of what game consumers produce is considered... well, to those not directly involved in fan culture, it's generally thought of as nothing but a waste of time.  People see fanfic as either poorly written or as pointless smut (also usually as a "girl thing," which is a textbook-long discussion for another day).  And game mods, except for the very most popular, are something fanboys do for fun when they could be using their time and energy for "real jobs" or getting laid.

But the first wave of home gamers is grown up: a kid who was 10 when the NES came out in the USA is now 35, and some of those former kids are artists, playwrights, or even game designers...  And many are parents.  I look forward to seeing what their kids do with our early gaming icons in another 20 years.

*They so totally are.


  1.  Hah, that's an interesting corollary to my Reading Theater bit. Kind of interesting what they did for Grand Theft Ovid, but that name conjures up much more interesting images. Metamorphoses adapted into an open worlds game where you travel between the various stories and settings...

  2. I like your posts over there, btw, and I hope to have some time really to get into them this weekend. :)

  3. It appears that some national tastemakers are coming to your point of view.

  4.  Yup!  I participated in the voting, fairly pleased with the results.  Bioshock in particular is the go-to game-as-art example since 2007 -- I've even got an image from it in this coming Monday's post, to illustrate how games use the same mise-en-scène techniques film does.

    Also very pleased that Myst and The Secret of Monkey Island are going to be in the playable exhibit.  Go Guybrush go!