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Gathered here are thoughts on literature, technology, education, religion, culture and anything else that interests me. I hope you enjoy your stay.

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What’s New for Video Games in 2011?

Oh yeah, killing, shooting, slaying, hunting. Same old, same old.

Such a disappointment to read The Guardian’s ‘most anticipated titles of 2011‘ and find a gallery of the usual FPS mayhem. Disappointing because I get video games, I think. I admire the potential that they have. It’s just that they inhabit such a narrow range of stories that, while doubtlessly exciting, are really rather repetitive and boring because, despite all the talk of AI, the characters don’t learn.

It’s something I touch on in ‘Other‘:

The final tragedy of the online worlds we so often inhabit, the war games and final fantasy battles we participate in, is that – under most current gaming systems – these characters learn nothing. Enemies appear and must be killed, mutilated, ended. ‘An enemy is a friend whose story you have not yet heard’, the saying goes. But this is not an option. Writing in the American literary magazine The Believer, Heather Chaplin summarises the problem well:

‘Video games are good at fostering problem solving, but they’re not so good at fostering human empathy or a deeper understanding of the human condition.’

Comparing this with more traditional story forms, she continues:

‘Novels are about psychological empathy; games simply are not. And if games are telepathing something about the future, maybe that tells us something about the future, maybe that tells us that psychological empathy, concern with the human condition is not going to be that important in the twenty-first century.’

Somehow, we must make sure that empathy for the other and concern for the human condition are important in this undoubtedly digital future we are heading into.

Aren’t there some different stories that can be told? Or does the interactivity of the medium and the urge to be faster and more graphic lead inevitably towards violence? Gaming seems stuck to me.

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3 comments to What’s New for Video Games in 2011?

  • From the article’s writer:

    “On the subject of Portal 2 and Mass Effect 3, I would have included them, but couldn’t get hi-res screenshots in time. Turns out, this is not the best time of year to be chasing PRs for images…

    I’m doing a list on the blog that doesn’t rely on big screenshots – [Portal 2 and Mass Effect 3] will certainly be in there…”

    Make of that what you will.

  • Paul

    have you seen this? http://marctenbosch.com/miegakure/ feels like he’s never going to get round to finishing/releasing it though.

  • I had a version of this conversation with my five-year-old nephew over the holidays, as we chatted about the Indiana Jones game for Wii. As he described all the ways to make the villain “die”, I asked if there wasn’t a way to talk with the bad guy and help him change his mind & become good. With utter confusion in his eyes, my nephew said, “But there has to be a bad guy!” And off he went again, describing the stars around the villain’s head while he falls off the cliff.