Friday, December 01, 2006

Video / Non-Video Games

Every once in a while, some nut suggests that we need to start calling them something other than "video games". At first, proposals for labels like "interactive [something]" struck me as just people taking themselves too seriously, disliking being pegged as "game" developers instead of something that sounds more artistic, serious, and publicly respectable.

But I'm starting to warm to the idea since a realization I had today. I admit to being slow and completely out of touch with the world sometimes, so I'm sure this realization hit others years ago.

It's very common in disputes about the quality or superiority of a "video game" for one side to point out that the graphics are not optimal while the other side points out that a game can be fun despite sub-optimal graphics. What's happening here is a problem of categorization. In a "video game", seemingly by definition, the "video" is a pivotal element. If a game places little emphasis on graphics, it's haunted by this label which demands a graphical standard. A better terminology could greatly benefit marketing and project proposals alike.

I was surprised when I first heard the term "graphic novels". It has become a common phrase, at least vaguely familiar even to those with absolutely no interest in the market. I don't know the history, but my guess is that either: 1) someone with a measure of public respect didn't want to risk their reputation by admitting to enjoying a well-written, even depthful, "comic book", or 2) a marketer of comic books thought he could fool people into giving particular comic books a chance, and succeeded. Which one of those (if either) was the prime mover is important, because the answer suggests to the game industry whether a new terminology for "video games" can come from within or must come from without.

As for what terminology... Perhaps games can co-exist under one term in overlapping categories, similar to movie DVDs. DVDs are divided into genres like horror and drama, as games are divided into FPS and RPG, but they are also divided into Widescreen/Fullscreen, and include cross-genres (action comedy, action horror, etc). I'm not sure if there's any benefit in hard-dividing "more video" games from "less video" games.

Anyway, if this is all boringly obvious, then I apologize for wasting your time.

1 comment:

  1. Its an important distinction, I think Wii is a step in challenging the hegemony of that term in more ways than just through marketing momentum.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.