30 April 2009

The evolution of interaction…

I used to read a lot when i was younger (well, relatively anyway) and while i still enjoy a good read i’ve found that i’m beginning to encounter some problems when doing so. It’s happening with film and TV, to a lesser extent, as well so i’m pretty sure that it’s not that i’m just going through a patch where i’m not too bothered to read.

During recent years i’ve had to put a few books down. I had to stop reading them for a day or two because i couldn’t stand what was happening in the story, not because it was stupid or annoying but because the story happened to visit places that i’d prefer to not travel to…. rape, forced marriage and lovers missing each other’s intentions and what-not (i’m not into romance novels though these examples clearly seem to indicate that they’re what i’m reading!).

At first i thought that this was because i’m adverse to these practices or perhaps emotionally tied to the characters who are missing each other’s interests but i’ve noticed a similar trend in my visual media consumption too. I turn off TV shows if the plot isn’t going where i like it to or if i feel that the plot devices are just too silly or stupid to make any kind of sense. This led me to believe that perhaps my attention span has been reduced by the constant “quick media” influx over the last two decades as is so often portrayed in the news media.

However, today i had a revelation. I don’t have a short attention span - i can play games or read books/watch movies for many hours at a time… i can have stimulating conversations or play complicated board games at length. My attention span isn’t short, it’s just that i have been taught to use my freedom to better choose what i consume or do. At the same time i think that playing games has also influenced my (and probably others’) perceptions of how i am allowed to consume various media. In games, *I* am the protagonist, i don’t always have a choice in what i do but at least i’m the one driving the interaction and progression. In games that give me a choice, i play a role (and since i’m the unimaginative sort i usually play the ideal role i’d like to live up to in real life) and that affects how i experience the game and it plays out. In films/TV and books i don’t have this interaction, i’m passive to the ongoings of the characters and i don’t know where the story is going or at what pace. At the same time, these strengths to the traditional media are making me balk at interacting with them in the same way because i’m used to acting on the knowledge given to me in a way that is impossible in pre-determined media. I want to step in and stop that rape, create a character to do so perhaps since i have no agency in that world. I want to play matchmaker between two forlorn lovebirds, befriend them and make them happy. I’m sure that some people would prefer the opposite or different results from these scenarios but they are equally as unable to affect the world.

In playing games i have spoiled myself i have created a god-like complex that makes me think i’m entitled to edit, change and manipulate the worlds in my media…. i pick out ‘flaws’ that clash with my perceptions of what is right and wrong or what just doesn’t make sense and i want to change them to fit my beliefs and desires.

*I* am player character…. do as i wish.

While i’m now aware of this and i can perhaps temper my feeling when entering these situations a little, is this leading to something bigger?

At the moment the web is all ado about web 2.0: user-created content and involvement. In the past it was all about what was fed to us by outlets… but even then (and even more so now) the news industry has always had a symbiosis with the consumers. We supply news, we create it and we devour it from the carefully crafted reports given to us by the news companies. Is this a hint of what’s to come? We’ve all heard of ghost writers - people who help out or completely write a novel or story in the name of another person. David Perry (and Acclaim) started a game design for a project that was/is a collaboration between users and developers - they have a say in what happens and contribute to the development process as well.

Is the next big ‘media’ evolution co-existing with the current generation? In thirty years time will we be talking to authors, giving feedback and helping to write our own collaborative stories? Will our visual media be the same? It’s an intersting concept and a nightmare in the making (as i’m sure Perry found out during the early parts of making the Top Secret project) but it seems like a logical extension of where we are and what we desire in our media.

So, what do you think?

9 April 2009

Just to let you know...

Just in case anyone reads here (including the elemental Wordsmythe) i've been trying to concentrate more on the Eggmen project for the time being. If anyone wants to join in on a podcast then let me know and we can knock around some ideas and see if we can get together and record it.

I'll keep posting here and perhaps duplicate some posts across the two sites but i've only got so many ideas in me and only so many words to write them in.


4 April 2009

Enough is enough.....

Let's face it, if you've read this blog for any length of time you'll know how fed up i am with the games industry... it's my main pasttime so of course i'm going to get irate when things make that pasttime less valuable or less attractive. You might, however, join me in an incredulous sigh when you read what i'm about to quote:

But game companies say there is a bigger force at work: the proliferation of consumer choice in the game industry prevents them from raising prices on console games. Games for iPhones are considerably cheaper; indeed, many are free. Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart 3D, a racing game that has been a longtime favorite on the iTunes App Store, costs $5.99. Zombieville USA, another top seller, is only $1.99. Games made for downloading onto the Xbox 360, PS3 or Wii cost $10.

“Video games used to be the type of entertainment that sucked dollars from TV, music and the box office,” said Evan Wilson, an analyst with Pacific Crest Securities. “Now, inside the video game industry, it’s having its own internal distraction issues. There are lots of options.”

So, when companies aren't making enough money in the games industry they first blamed the pirates, citing the huge numbers of pirated copies of games and *thus* sales they should be expecting if there were no piracy and they moved to stop that with copy protection and more recently DRM schemes.... then they blamed used games, citing the huge numbers of resold games which was draining the industry of their rightful profits and they moved to stop that by making the DRM schemes applicable to one person only...... now they're blaming CHEAP GAMES?!! Are you serious? Are you fucking with me? MY GOD!

The industry is basically telling the consumers that everything we believe is true in a free and consumer-driven market is just false. Consumer demand shouldn't drive price points, oh no.... companies should be able to set their price points and consumers should be forced to buy those items at the same rate as the cheaper ones they did before. Voting with your wallet to not buy a shoddy, half-finished and/or sloppy port shouldn't count when the industry is hurting - you should be forced to buy them anyway AND buy the DLC (that is actually on the disc) when it is released less than *two weeks after launch.... i mean, who do they think they are?

Companies in the games industry always go on about how whiney their customers are and how they can never please the "hardcore" segment.... well, maybe it's because we're used to the industry being such fucking babies about everything that makes us react in this way. Seriously, grow up! I have to admit that i don't read as much blurbs from other industries so maybe they're all like this but i've never heard so many ludicrously idiotic soundbites from industry executives as i have from the games industry..... When they're not blaming lack of performance on some nebulous thing, they're sticking their feet in their mouths and out the other end so they can carry on walking by making offensive comments about their customers.

*Judging from previous experience with knowing how releasing patches/updates and downloadable arcade games (i.e. Spacegiraffe) goes i know it takes a LOT longer than a couple of weeks to get something onto the online services of the consoles (though obviously the Fallout 3 DLC was just shunted through this process with a pass from some executive somewhere)