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Would you play a game where the protagonist was a Nazi?

It’s a rather “puzzling” surprise to many readers that I do play games. While poking around someone asked me a question.

Why can’t you play a game as a Nazi? Why can’t you play a WW2 game where you play as the “baddies”. I thought about it and I do have a genuine answer as to why that is possible but why no one would take the risk.

But we did play a Call of Duty game where we played the “Historic Bad Guys” (but at the time good guys). We played as Russians in the first two Call of Dutys, back when it was about showing the viewpoint of historical soldiers. Who here played Call of Duty 2 and forgot the training mission where you learnt to fight with potatoes because grenades are expensive, you are not.

So would someone ever make a game where you played one of the Axis powers in WW2? 

No, the first issue is that people would throw an aneurysm and regard it as a “Nazi Simulator” even without having touched the game. In addition? Call of Duty Screwed It Up. Call of Duty has made the FPS genre so saturated with childish spectacle shootery that the chance that anyone would fund a game that is such a calculated risk, new IP and something different and dangerous is unlikely. In addition you would have to STOP it being a spectacle shooter because you want to give a different message to Call of Shooty.

The real problem is how do you depict people who are widely considered as acceptable targets. How do you humanise the Nazis without insulting the victims? That is a thin tightrope to walk. And to do that we must have a game that is different. We must throw out a lot of the sensibilities associated with modern First Person Shooters and Games as a whole. We must break new ground and we must show that games can be art and deal with subjects.

You either have to make a game so unprincipled such as Red Orchestra or one of the early Battlefield games. Where the principles of both sides are not important and side A and B are simply colours that happened to be Allies vs Nazi. You don’t look into what it’s like being a soldier, you look at what it’s like to shoot awesome guns at each other.

In order to make a game where you are in effect a villain you have to step away from the norm and take a risk.

There is a problem in Triple A gaming today. The amount of money invested has been invested in polish but not content since polish looks good, polish makes hype, polish sells games. Call of Duty doesn’t want you to think because if you thought about it you would realise you aren’t playing something new.

Bioshock Infinite is part of what’s wrong with Triple A Gaming. It sold a whopping 3 million copies. But guess what? 3 Million Is not Enough. The overhead is so monsterous that it would need to sell at least 6 to 10 million copies to be considered a commercial success. That’s madness. That’s stupid. The game is excellent but so much money was wasted on stupid things that it would NEVER make it’s costs back unless it went as big as GTA which is based on a formula. The original Bioshock was cheap, tightly streamlined and a controlled experience that you appreciated because the setting allowed for a controlled experience. Where detail was paid not to the graphics so much as the game world. The aesthetics fit and even if the graphics were not stellar you still had a great time.

But I thought about it and there is a way to produce a WW2 game with integrity and that is by looking at another game which tried to be more than just a game. Spec Ops the Line looks at PTSD and it looks at good intentions. Evil is not committed by men who want to commit evil but by men who wish to do good. This is a story older than the Bible. In Hinduism it forms the core of the Mahabaratha, decisions made that were good and honourable lead to tragedies too.

I got the idea from reading about lynching when people compared the Patriarch of Duck Dynasty to Rosa Parks.

See we rarely talk about Nazis because we don’t want to admit that not only was their evil common place at the time but in some ways mirrored the allies. Are we to forget the British atrocities and police state in India? Or the American massacres in the Philippines? Or the historical oppression caused by them? Or the irony of the USA fighting for “Freedom” when it’s own black people were not free? The line that came to my mind was one from Time Magazine during the 50s speaking out about the Lynching of a black man. Not even the Nazis collected photographs of their heinous crimes to be traded as one would trade photographs of a favourite movie star.

The people who did the lynchings may appear evil and horrific to us but they never saw themselves as monsters.

To create such a view point you would have to have a journey, an unfeasible one since you would have to have a mythical German soldier who serves the “Entire war” on a front. You have to create a game that shows the problem with the WW2 Axis train of thought or of behaviour unless you actually “create” a sympathetic viewpoint of a German disgusted by Nazis or a Japanese officer horrified by the country he is bound to serve.

You have to have this person come to the realisation over the course of the game. That he knows that Germany is losing because every day the glorious victories are close to Berlin.

To do that you have to produce a story that is anti-thetical to the beliefs of the time. Contrary to belief, anti-semitism was common place in Europe at the time making it easy to blame Jews and get away with it. In the same way you aren’t getting to see American troops speak about that time they got to go see a Negro getting hanged (there was a roaring trade in Lynching Photographs that were fervently exchanged. Apartheid America was precisely as fucked up as Apartheid Raj or Apartheid South Africa despite what the Duck Dynasty patriarch or the racists claim).

To portray the Germans and Japanese in a sympathetic light during WW2 you have to have an incredibly closed FPS and treat it as an anti-war shooter. Like Spec Ops – The Line. You would have to explore the themes involved at the time and indeed the themes we have today. Of blind support, patriotism defined by obedience, nationalism, biased media and the callousness and disillusionment of war.

Either you play a soldier losing faith, or a soldier with no choices doing things that you would personally find distasteful until you ask yourself the important question.

Either you or the character on screen should have that revelation, otherwise there is no object morality and your FPS would effectively become “Racist Fodder”. If we compare Spec Ops to Call of Juarez – The Cartel then you see one game punish you for killing Americans with back stories about the people you kill so that they no longer remain faceless and in the other you mow down African Americans for “no adequately explained reason”. You aren’t demonstrating villainy, you aren’t making a point, you are just shooting non-white people, the only defence against racism is that one of your “AI companions is black”. It was horribly handled.

You can portray the reality, the atrocities committed by the Nazis and the Japanese were phenomenal in scale. They were not committed by monsters, they were not committed by beasts.

They were done by men who we can identify with. Men who considered themselves patriots, men who had loves. Men who had children. Men who considered themselves god fearing.

I wrote about lynching a while back and how the men who did it never considered themselves as evil. Men who would do horrific things, things that were as horrible as the Nazis did or the Empire of the Rising Sun. If you really want to be horrified then go out here.

But they never saw themselves as bad people. The best example I can show of this is in Bioshock Infinite, to begin with you see this utopia and everyone in there is polite and charming. And you are going to do something polite and charming too. A raffle of all things! And they are still polite and charming to you until you realise what the raffle is for.

And your opinion changes at that point. Theirs remains the same because in that story our character is blessed with the understanding of racism. We have an understanding of why what they are doing is wrong and why it’s important to us. The characters on the screen are people from the 1890s. Racism was still a powerful force and lynching was at it’s height.

It can be done, but it will have to eschew progress in FPS to be a horrific grind, where the game is designed and written to make you feel uncomfortable with war.

Call of Duty never excessively glorified war until it entered the Modern Warfare/BlackOps settings. The Historical stuff is grim viewing. Every battle is interspersed by tragic lamentations about war. So despite the camaraderie you realise that these were real people who fought and died. That your elation is soured by the understanding of war.

You have to bring that back to the genre and make it “more”.

As I said. Any game like this would have to be an object lesson into the mind of blind group think and the horror of war. You would literally have to have a moment where you break down in game and go “Do they not realise what they are doing is bad” and have someone else explain this.

You would need characters who grew up without the bigotry emblematic of the two major axis powers. A German educated in the USA who went to defend his “Fatherland” against a racist aggressor at the urges of family. The same for a Japanese soldier who was from a family of American Immigrants who either sent him back home before the outbreak of the war or who resettled. These existed and their viewpoint would bridge the gap the best by providing us with characters we can identify with. A person who knows enough about both sides to see the truth.

To Americans who find this puzzling? Remember Jessie Owens? He had more Freedom in Nazi Germany when he visited than the Country he Represented. He had to take the service elevator to his own medal party in the USA because “Negroes Could Not Use The Guest Elevator”. In Germany? He could mingle with other Athletes. Maybe our young German had “no idea” and merely caved in to familial pressure. There are many options of origins here.

What you need is a very very closed experience. You want to literally tell a story with little choice and little freedom because it’s a story about little choice and little real freedom. But that doesn’t mean the choices you have should be meaningless or meaningful. Remember, in War you have meaningful choices and some of them have meaningless outcomes. Again you sometimes have meaningless choices that later have meaningful outcomes.

But you want the story and the characters to be real and engaging. Not Nazi Man 1 and his friends but Franz, Josef, Hans and Sigmund. You want these characters to come with you and grow and yes you want them to die. You want a movie experience with a few choices.

You want to show the world the gaming equivalent of Das Boot. A movie where you felt for traditional baddies but which had a message.

The Red October was probably more entertaining than Das Boot, but people will remember Das Boot for longer because Das Boot gave us Sympathetic Nazis, made us root for villains and then showed us the reality and futility of war. It was an incredibly tense, incredibly well shot movie. Any movie that can turn silence into tension is doing something good. But you cannot repeat it. You cannot make a Das Boot 2.

Why do we think a book can depicts this idea more than a game? Why do you think that games are limited and cannot deal with lofty subjects? Lest you forget? In the City of Freedom, in the City of Rapture Bioshock dealt with free will in an astonishingly impressive way. Why do you think we cannot treat our hobby like we treat movies? Did people tell Spielberg that he must only produce blockbusters and never experiment with Holocaust movies?

The trick like movies is to realise your target audience. You are not going to make everyone happy with this game. This is not a game for the Call of Duty kiddies. This is a game that is played by people who play it then put it down and tell their friends. This must be priced and teched accordingly. We adults are less likely to be impressed by super HD graphics and more by the actual game. If the game plays well, if the message is good then we will have a game that’ is great to play.

You can make non AAA games and in fact AAA games are a stupid idea since this is going to appeal to a mature audience. This is not going to be a game with a multiplayer or the like.

It should be like Half Life 2. A very closed experience but it gives you a cinematic feel. Set it first on the western front, then you can do sequels for Eastern Front, Africa, the Indo-Chinese-South-East Asia Theater (So Philippines, Indonesia, Burma, Malay Peninsula, Invasion of India and Fall Back) and the Island Hoping (actually if you toss the Philippines here you get an effective campaign vs. the Commonwealth and the USA as separate campaigns). Each of them can deal with the issues pertinent to those campaigns. The East European one can be about racism, the Mainland Asia one can be about Colonialism and the one in the Pacific can be about Duty and Patriotism and we can explore each of these concepts.

The reason for a closed experience is you want the game to tell a story. Call of Duty told the stories of great Victories and Heroic Men before it became about “shoot the foreigner and let’s fight Russia”. Call of Duty once told stories but now completely lost track of who the heroes are with the most recent one (The weaponisation of space? That makes you the baddies! You are playing as a villain!).

These are stories of heroic men who fought for the side of wrong, men who did brave things to fight doing what they thought was right. Men who fell for ideas, men who thought they were doing their duty and men who simply thought thoughts that were wrong.

And that is what you would want to convey in game but with the caveat of realising that the character should come to our understanding of the war.

Spec Ops the Line did this. It played with us and gave us a modern retelling of Heart of Darkness/Apocalypse Now. You can do this with Nazis, if and only if you utilise games as a mechanism of dealing with a subject.

And the Nazis and the Empire of the Sun are a perfect subject for exploring extremism, group think, dehumanisation. Of how Fallout got it wrong.

War does Change. War Changed so spectacularly and there are just so many concepts to deal with.

We can depict that. Oh it doesn’t have to be closed enough, we can do things like have little changes. Like being ordered to take a shot and missing it on purpose saving an unknown soldier’s life. You can then have a discussion or a conversation on the fact that many soldiers during WW2 shot to miss. Many never wanted to kill, particularly on the Western Front. On the Eastern and Pacific front that changed due to the way both sides dehumanised each other and the impetus created by the anger of Japanese atrocities.

It’s simple to explain. I bet you played Bioshock?

Do you know why people would have no qualms about stoning a black person to death yet calling themselves good? The game tried to capture the sort of carnival atmosphere that was common in the end of the 1800s in Southern USA during a common enough event.

The Lynching. It was literally fun for the whole family. People got to show “those uppity negroes what for”, took pictures of a fun day out. They would inform the press (They knew no jury would convict them, even if the perpetrators were known!) and make it a carnival. People would come watch these brutal murders and rapes and think it was good and okay.

To borrow a quote from Dr. Who, do you know what sort of mentality must you have to have fun doing this?

This not murder, this is pest control. And our grandparents and great grandparents thought like that.

You can push this attitude into the harsh light through the media of a game, but it’s hard. it’s very hard. And very risky. But if you can do it? If you do do it? I guarantee you will have the game of the year. No one else would have dealt with this topic so well. But it requires a constant understanding of what you are doing, respect for the subject material and a realisation that you are not making a game about war or Nazis but to depict why people follow such extreme viewpoints.

You will have made the game equivalent of Das Boot and ironically fired yet another head shot against the zombie that is the modern FPS and forced the gaming industry to think of itself less in terms of AAA games and more in terms of what the game can really do if we stop looking at pure technology and playing to it’s real strength which is immersion.

You would have this mythical “Band of Brothers” sign up during the early stages of WW2, make the push on Belgium and Paris and be rewarded. Then you would have them them do a mission dealing with “terrorists”. And then a mission or two dealing with the realities of being in a situation where you had to follow orders.

We have to make this game be closed but the decisions you make should have an impact. Imagine having a mission where you have to keep quiet to get as close to a Jewish safe house. And what if you think “I should make some noise so they can run”. The mission may be closed but your action changes some of the outcomes”. You can even have the dialogue of your friends covering for you and then confronting you about fucking up on purpose  with “why should you care”?

You want that initial euphoria of victory at Dunkirk slowly change. Let’s say your character gets a medal for things done in Paris and he is proud but occupation has soured his opinion.and as the “glorious victories” happen close to Berlin he gets another medal in different circumstances. And this time he is disgusted by it all. That he realises (he wouldn’t know exactly about the Concentration Camps except through the propaganda videos. And they wouldn’t be telling people how Auschwitz and Treblinka were being run. They would show people the more benign yet still sinister Terezin which was maintained to show the Red Cross how people lived at these camps). Your prior knowledge would be shading his actions and you could see the rationalisations people had when they did these things.

And as the fall back begins and the Band of Brothers gets smaller and smaller and you experience various disillusionments you get another medal for doing something heroic, but this time the medal is just metal and ribbon to you.

You want the story of a man going through the various opinions of what war is like and what he was told to do and why he followed it.

The overall game will not change and to many people it won’t satisfy. This is because we think that choice has to be myriad rather than choice has to be real. People will ask  “what’s the point of saving a handful of lives while dooming and indeed killing others” if it doesn’t change the ending to which I will say this “You did change the endings, for those people. Your actions can be relayed back to you through News Articles. Some of your actions may have no meaning, some of them may seem meaningless, some of them may be meaningless actions that have incredible results.

If you could make a game that made us genuinely think about what it was like to be part of an ideological villain whose beliefs are so horrible they are synonymous with villainy and evil and then make us realise that they were human beings and had human reasons for falling for that twisted ideology. Then you  would have a good game and a game that demonstrates a lot of issues that mirror our current world.

That the racism, blind nationalism and patriotism, unwillingness to think about our actions and glorification of war have occurred in our lifespans too and that we must be careful not to fall for it.

Games can be more than just fun, they can deal with these topics too.

Comments

  1. says

    If you could make a game that made us genuinely think about what it was like to be part of an ideological villain whose beliefs are so horrible they are synonymous with villainy and evil and then make us realise that they were human beings and had human reasons for falling for that twisted ideology.

    If it were a management / adventure type game where you were playing John Rabe or a character like him trying to save the lives of Chinese citizens, you could probably get some to play it. But the backlash against and kneejerk reaction toward “portraying Nazis as the good guys” as well as depicting the atrocities of the Imperial Japanese army would make unpalatable to most and commercially unsuccessful. Enlightened people know that no country is all bad or all good, but the less enlightened tend to see in black and white (e.g. “We’re the good guys, they’re all terrorists, including the children”).

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Rabe

    As for portrayals of “good guys and bad guys”, I recently read an interview of John Carmack on the 20th anniversary of the first DOOM release (Dec. 1993). He said he explicitly wanted demons and not humans as the enemies so there would be no moral ambiguity, no concern about what players were killing. Wolfenstein 3D (and other early FPS games) suffered from controversy because they made killing of Nazis a casual and repeat event. It was the satanic imagery that created controversy around DOOM.

  2. Al Dente says

    Several years ago six of us played a mega-board game called “World War II in Europe.” Two people played the Western Allies, another man and I played the Soviets, and two people played the Axis powers. The game map covered a basement wall, there were over 400 pieces, and the game took about 40 hours to play from 1939 to 1945 (we Soviets won in the summer of 1945 by taking Berlin).

    There are a fair number of World War II board games with Germans being one side. One of the most popular, “Squad Leader,” is biased towards the German player because the Germans have better equipment than anyone else.

  3. rikitiki says

    Not sure that this applies here, just another ‘take’ on playing villians:

    Back during the ’80′s & ’90′s, I played Dungeons & Dragons with a
    group that usually numbered between 5 to 9 players. Most
    scenarios (either store-bought or home-created) dealt with
    Neutral-to-Good player characters fighting and killing
    Evil-to-Neutral “bad guys” or monsters. I would every
    so often run a game where the players HAD to use
    Evil-to-Neutral characters against Good-to-Neutral
    opponents. There was something cathartic in that and,
    everyone loved those games…even though the players
    would often cringe later at what their characters had done.

  4. arno says

    While reading the more detailed part of your suggestion I’ve felt a certain unease that took me a moment to understand. There is a bit of background of the discussion of the role of the Wehrmacht in the German public that is relevant (we’re talking postwar until today):

    Essentially, most Germans maintained a rather strict distinction between “the Nazis” and “the Wehrmacht” (the German army). The warcrimes were generally attributed to the Waffen-SS (i.e. the Nazis), whereas the Wehrmacht was used seen to be “doing their patriotic duty”. The putch attempt in ’44 by many high-ranking officers of the Wehrmacht hoping to end the war was particularly celebrated (while e.g. the Communist resistance was mostly ignored).

    When researchers began documenting how the Wehrmacht was involved in warcrimes on a large scale, and that many soldiers knew much more about the Holocaust that they admitted, there was quite a strong pushback from the conserative side of the German public.

    So, to summarize, showcasing a fundamentally non-evil Wehrmacht soldier may be an interesting morality-experiment for a British audience, but would be seen as pushing a problematic case of historic revisionism for a German audience.

  5. says

    While I think it sounds excellent, I think it’s hard to imagine a modern game company taking the spec contract on for creating such a game, given the deep and numerous pitfalls it would be hedged about with, plus the difficulty you’d have selling it in some large markets: you simply couldn’t sell this game in Germany at all, by law. No shop would stock it, it couldn’t use or display Nazi symbols, just…not good. Japan would be problematic, given their ongoing issues with recognizing and acknowledging collective responsibility for the atrocities committed by the Japanese (as opposed to the ones by our side, I want to be clear: e.g., Dresden/Toukyo and Hiroshima/Nagasaki come immediately to mind). And I think it might be hard to sell such a game in Israel, France, Benelux, Norway, Poland, Russia, the ROK, or China, given their histories with their various invasions, among many other countries.

    I do think that games can teach some lessons; I’m just not sure a TPS/FPS setup is the way to go with this particular set of lessons. Note that Red Dead Redemption, for intance, left out First Nations peoples pretty much completely, despite being set in various parts of the western/southern US and northern Mexico in 1904.

    Perhaps a sideways approach: a module for Sim City that does historical setups, allowing you to build a city in 1930 up from a village in Europe, and have to deal with the impersonal effects of war, as well as providing transport for a great deal of military supply, and possibly (in Germany or Japan, say, or the US) having to provide base space/civil services to an internment camp, or a military installation doing questionable research or weapons production like V-2 or something.

    Or a railway sim wherein part of your trouble, while running a railway in the northwestern part of the Reich, is how to schedule the eastbound “labour specials” of cattlecars that return deadhead to the west. Can you find a way to divert a trainload to a siding where a Resistance organization is waiting to free them? What’s the moral impact of scheduling trains systematically looting the state and people of France? Will you curse the bombers destroying your signalling hardware, and blowing up your fuel and water installations, shattering your too-rare power stock?

    A TPS/FPS could maybe be done around being in the Resistance, but focusing on the on-side fighting, as between Communists and royalists in Italy or Greece, or about the partisan fighting in the Balkans, where it’s hard to pick a side that wasn’t pretty badly behaved.

    But it would be a seriously fraught process, developing such a game, and I’d be surprised to see any game company taking it on, with the enormous public reputation risks of getting it wrong, and the unlikeliness of getting it right enough that there wouldn’t be a huge rep hit from all the people who thought you got it wrong anyway, even though some thought you didn’t.

    Fascinating post, thanks Avi.

  6. angharad says

    I agree that it would be an awesome game, and also that it would be a difficult game to make. You might have more luck getting a game like this made and/or accepted if you shifted it into a sci-fi or fantasy universe, where the protagonist starts off as a loyal soldier of the noble empire and then gradually begins to realise that he/she is on the wrong side.

    Also, I’m not sure if you have ever played Planescape: Torment. It is often listed on ‘Best Games of All Time’ type lists though it is quite old now (it was released in 1999). In this game the protagonist wakes up with amnesia and begins to learn that he has lived many lives before and in some of them he was a really very horrible person. It is one of the most affecting games I have ever played – it gave me chills at times. If what you are proposing could be done properly I would anticipate it having a similar effect.

  7. Jeff Dworkin says

    There was a great early flight simulator called ‘Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe’ where they had flight sims for the various early Nazi jet fighters like the Me-263 and the Gotha flying wing. I loved to fly the planes, but was always creeped out by having to shoot down American B-17s to succeed in the missions.

  8. says

    I remember one of the Lucas Arts X-wing/Tie Fighter series, you were a TIE fighter pilot and were shooting down rebel scum… It didn’t bother me much because I knew it was not real.

    The issue is whether you identify ideologically with the baddies. And that’s an issue that applies to more than just games, though games (until recently) were constantly under threat of regulation from posturers in Congress. Now that the “gaming generation” is growing up and some whopping number of people have some kind of gaming in their past, I think that’s increasingly less of an issue.

    I believe some countries (i.e.: Germany) have laws against displaying nazi logotage, which is why any American gaming company that is producing a WWII game has to either bite the bullet to make 2 sets of artwork, or they just avoid the swastikas and SS runes. I guess they really have a problem with gamer skinheads over there …

  9. says

    . Most scenarios (either store-bought or home-created) dealt with Neutral-to-Good player characters fighting and killing Evil-to-Neutral “bad guys” or monsters.

    My D&D group had a bunch of questions around morality and our GM decided that we were going to be the good guys. The whole Chaotic/Lawful axis is amusingly manichean, isn’t it? Anyhow, I had a lot of fun with it. I had a paladin (who called himself only “Fist Of God”) who, of course, was Lawful/Good. But he had a rather low INT paired with his 18/50 CHR and I played him as an ideologic dumbass – sort of like a George Bush in polished plate armor – who always managed to justify the wrong decision as morally correct, and who deliberately left a smoking shambles everywhere he went “for their own good.” He prayed to his patron Saint MacNamara, who once destroyed a village in order to save it…

  10. Holms says

    Strangely, this concept was executed well and without any stigma by the early Counter-Strike mod for Half-Life, which had the players players assigned to either the terrorist or counter-terrorist teams. It succeeded so well in fact that it went a very long way to enshrine the legitimacy of ‘military shooters’ in general, ushering an age of shooters that are almost entirely extremely similar to one another.

    It seems the stigma value shoots through the roof however as soon as ‘Generically Evil Terrorists’ are replaced by ‘Extremely Evil Nazis’.

    But he had a rather low INT paired with his 18/50 CHR and I played him as an ideologic dumbass – sort of like a George Bush in polished plate armor – who always managed to justify the wrong decision as morally correct, and who deliberately left a smoking shambles everywhere he went “for their own good.” He prayed to his patron Saint MacNamara, who once destroyed a village in order to save it…

    So, a Knight Templar, then?

  11. Schlumbumbi says

    You’re dreaming the impossible.

    The narrative of war only allows for 1 point of view: You’re always fighting the good fight.
    While the puppeteers in power knowingly chase selfish goals, their non-psychopathic henchmen, soldiers, must be spoonfed a societal narrative that allows them to rationalise their actions as morally defensible. The whole concept of war is built on that premise.

    Since only the winners of war get to write their own narratives into the history books, how would you try to convince players to put themselves into the role of what is nowadays considered to be unequivocally wrong and evil ? Doesn’t that fly into the face of what modern gaming is all about, escapism and identification ?

    Or would you try to appeal to matured people, who understand how easily individuals can get trapped on the wrong side of a battle line? If so, would you want them to play a conscious protagonist who opposes his own tribe, or would you portray the character as a misguided puppet who can’t see the wood for the trees ?
    And isn’t either one of these alternatives an artificial and condescending restriction on the player’s perspective, which betrays the very purpose of such a game ? Why would you put someone on the “wrong side”, if you’re not even willing to offer them the entire scope of experiences that would naturally come with that setup ?

    I certainly wouldn’t mind giving players that freedom, including the chance to “win” the game, turning the alleged historicity of the game’s setup on it’s head – but I do understand that such a game would not be tolerated in the public sphere.

    Computer games are not considered art. Not by the makers, not by the consumers, and not by the public. And since only art has the licence to offer drastically different viewpoints, the game would either be ignored or censored.

  12. angharad says

    @Schlumbumbi – I’ve played games that I consider art, or that have caused me to have art-like experiences (which is to say I would say the experience did not differ significantly from experiencing other, more conventional works of art). I will grant you that a large majority of the general public would not concede that games could be art, but then most of them would probably say the same about comic books/graphic novels or science fiction as a genre, and I think they’re wrong about that too.

  13. Holms says

    Oh look, the ghost of Ebert has arisen and is currently taking a dump via Schlumbumbi’s keyboard.

    There are too many counter-examples to every single point you attempted to make; it is easily apparently that you are simply one of the many people demonising games without actually playing any.

  14. says

    @1. Sara – I have no talent when it comes to making games at all. I do however subscribe to the notion that games can deal with subject matter above PEW PEW PEW.

    We have seen that they can, I think if done respectfully and with the explicit idea that the creators are not creating a Nazi Simulator and with the relevant message of blind obedience and patriotism and nationalism being bad… we can look into a “world” where you can witness the sort of ideas that were bandied around that drove young men to great acts of bravery despite being “the baddies”.

    Tarantino touched on it. “Got this medal for Killing Jews? No…. for Bravery”. There were incredibly brave and principled “Germans” too. There were incredibly racist allies.

    When serving in Italy, Spike Milligan’s memoirs often candidly chart his rise to fame and part of that is down to “No Coloureds allowed” (Spike was a Jazz musician and Comedian in the UK, widely regarded to be UK’s funniest man until his death and remember this was a title he had to fight off Peter Sellers for.) No one wanted black musicians playing Jazz (Irony right?) so Spike was a shoe in a lot of the time which gave him the springboard for his post WW2 career. He also pointed out another famous comedian who believed that the Rajput Infantry who was charging into the teeth of German armour and fortifications that had repelled other soldiers was insulting to white people because he didn’t want to serve with someone with coloured skin.

    The point is both sides had racists, both acted out on racism and did terrible things because of it. The scale of the Empire and Nazi atrocities is amazingly huge. We can barely comprehend the Holocaust, imagine the Japanese death toll which is higher? Imagine the anger and the rage considering Germany recognises it’s role in the holocaust and is apologetic, Japan has deemed war criminals as martyrs and heroes.

    There are so many themes to explore here and these are themes we have to remember lest we repeat them. And part of that is teaching the message and the message can be taught via a game. It was a thought experiment. I don’t think anyone is going to read this and go “THAT IS A GOOD IDEA! LET US RISK THE IRE OF PEOPLE WHO DO NOT PLAY GAMES AND MAKE THIS GAME”.

    The man who makes this will be pilloried by people who don’t understand this. They can accept Das Boot or Letters from Iwo Jima but heaven forbid you play that scenario.

    And I feel this may actually be better received in Germany. While the Germans are fanatically anti-nazi to the point of being unable to learn about them they also may see the advantage of looking at something that Warns against Nazis. I don’t know, it may be interesting.

    I would even start the game with a disclaimer going “this is not a game in support of Nazis, this is a work of fiction set during a work of the worst and best of humanity. There are so many stories in WW2 of bravery and courage such as Dieppe or Kohima. But that doesn’t mean that this was a good thing, this was a cruel war and there were cruel men. This is an examination of what it is to be human and a warning.
    To never forget the past lest we repeat it”.

    I actually think that if you made a game set in the Asian theatre you would have greater opposition from Japan than you would from Germany.

    But as I said. No one would touch this idea, so we would never get to see what happens.

  15. KPL says

    Anyone play the Silent Hunter series? SH3 and V (well, I played 3 through 5) are submarine simulators has the player controlling a U-Boat for Germany. SH5 tried to make the experience more immersive by allowing the player to walk in first person around the boat and interact with crew-members. There was also briefing and background to campaign missions. I’m still on the first mission due to ridiculous tonnage requirements but I’m interested to see how the campaign develops.

  16. Schlumbumbi says

    #13 angharad
    There are many definitions of “art” out there. I used the only one that ever made sense to me: The expression of a unique thought through unique means.

    By always holding both elements, thought and means, to a high standard, I can tell apart art from craftsmanship, from kitsch, from triviality, from plagiarism and so on.

    I remember lots of games I played since I got my C64 in 1982, and while I enjoyed many of them, including games which employed extraordinary methods of gameplay or depicting content, I can’t remember a single one which came even close to my definition.

    For your reference to comic books… my outlook on that is pretty limited, so I haven’t got a firm opinion, but the ones that I bought didn’t come close either.

    #15 Avicenna
    Photography can be art. But most photographs are certainly not. The works of Helmut Newton have very little in common with random duckface selfies on farcebook.

  17. Scr... Archivist says

    Would a game like this have to be a shooting game?

    While reading your post, Avicenna, I thought of the White Rose. They were a group of Munich university students and their professor who opposed the Nazis with leaflets and graffiti. Some of them had even been in the Hitler Youth, but followed various paths to disillusionment, or were only in it because they had to be. The actual history of German resistance to the Nazis might be a useful springboard for inventing characters for a game like the one you are proposing.

    One of the students in the White Rose was named Willi Graf, and he was a medic in the early part of the war. Maybe a fictional, original character with some of Graf’s experiences (such as having a non-combat role) would help reduce controversy. It would still show moral dilemmas, such as the rightness of healing people who will go on fighting for a wrong cause. It would also show the grimness of war, but without the player being an active combatant.

    Christoph Probst was another member of the White Rose, and his upbringing led him to appreciate liberal values. So, you wouldn’t have to have a backstory in which a character lived in the U.S. to make him sympathetic. And maybe the player-character occasionally has leave, and visits his sister back home. She could be someone like Sophie Scholl, helping the player character see the wrong that Hitler is doing at home and abroad.

    I don’t know much about video game mechanics, but I can imagine a schema like Mass Effect uses between “Paragon” and “Rogue”. In a game like this the continuum would be more between “Conformity” and “Resistance”. Interactions with soldier characters could, for example, have them pressure the player to believe the propaganda. Changes in the player’s reputation would affect dialogue options as well as how the soldiers treat him. Maybe the player can find a very small number of other dissenters or just doubters, who would only be revealed after the player has a reputation for opposition, opening up new directions for the story, perhaps even the challenges of desertion. The idea is to show players, at the level of personal relationships, just how easy it can be to go along to get along with the banality of evil. And it may be more interesting to show the negative personal consequences of the right decisions in such a situation.

    Another possibility is to make it not a war game. Maybe all the points you want to make could be made in a 1930′s setting, with options to play different characters who are part of different ideological currents.

  18. says

    The question was “Can you make a First/Third Person Shooter with this content”.

    The point being you are playing an outright and widely considered villain. And the trick is to make the game not about playing a villain but exploring what makes an idea bad and how easy it is to fall down into that trap.

  19. doublereed says

    Seems weird to say videogames can’t be art. It’s a storytelling medium. A way to tell narratives. It’s like a book, a movie, graphic novel, or tone poem.

    I like the comparison to Bioshock Infinite. It seems like it could be done kind of in that way. But it would be much easier to attempt to do that in a fictional setting, not a real one. You can do fictional Nazis and use “expies”, like the Elves in Magic The Gathering’s Lorwyn. But you can still explore all the fascistic and dehumanizing elements of Nazism in the exact same way.

  20. busterggi says

    Of course its possible to play Nazis in a game – a lot of players of rpgs also DM them also and have plenty of practice playing evil characters. Of course as the game Godlike says in its book on Nazis, ‘Will to Power’, you’d have to be sick to want to play a genocidal baby-killer but I can see the cathartic value as anger management.

    Still, assassins as heroes are a staple of rpgs & video games and I’m old enough to remember when that character class was added to D&D with much controversy.

    Besides, if you saw the latest Captain America movie you already know that Nazis aren’t evil enough to make good villains anyone – secret corporations like Hydra are.

  21. sqlrob says

    @Schlumbumbi, #18

    Photography can be art. But most photographs are certainly not. The works of Helmut Newton have very little in common with random duckface selfies on farcebook.

    You’re making a huge category error that you seem to be blind to. Individual photographs can be art, but individual games can not? The fact that you don’t know of any is just an argument from ignorance, nothing more.

  22. arno says

    @Marcus Ranum
    _______________________________________________________________________________________
    I believe some countries (i.e.: Germany) have laws against displaying nazi logotage, which is why any American gaming company that is producing a WWII game has to either bite the bullet to make 2 sets of artwork, or they just avoid the swastikas and SS runes. I guess they really have a problem with gamer skinheads over there …
    _______________________________________________________________________________________

    Germany outlaws the use of symbols of anti-constitutional organizations (which include the Nazi party and the SS), with exceptions available for research, teaching and art. It’s one general law meant to disrupt political agitation (although prosecutors sometimes get rather overjealous in its application), rather than say a specific censorship for games/publications/whatever. Noting the potential exception for pieces of art, the question whether or not games are/can be/sometimes are art would be relevant, too.

  23. Holms says

    There are many definitions of “art” out there. I used the only one that ever made sense to me: The expression of a unique thought through unique means.

    By always holding both elements, thought and means, to a high standard, I can tell apart art from craftsmanship, from kitsch, from triviality, from plagiarism and so on.

    Your appraisal of what constitutes a high standard of the ‘unique thought’ component is a subjective judgement on your part; there is no objective means to determine this.

    Your appraisal of what constitutes a high standard of the ‘unique means’ component is a subjective judgement on your part; there is no objective means to determine this.

    In other words, there is no way to determine what constitutes art, even when applying this particular definition, except by personal judgement. No one is the arbiter of what constitutes art and non-art.

    I remember lots of games I played since I got my C64 in 1982, and while I enjoyed many of them, including games which employed extraordinary methods of gameplay or depicting content, I can’t remember a single one which came even close to my definition.

    For your reference to comic books… my outlook on that is pretty limited, so I haven’t got a firm opinion, but the ones that I bought didn’t come close either.

    Your argument is simply ‘I have not experienced a computer game that qualified as art according to my subjective criteria (which aren’t relevant anyway), therefore NO computer game is art. However, if your primary computer game experiences date back to your C64, then your outlook on games are also ‘pretty limited’ (read: incredibly outdated).

  24. Schlumbumbi says

    @sqlrob / Holms Guys, your reading comprehension is super weak.

    #23 sqlrob

    The terminology gets a bit sloppy and lazy at times, but I can easily differentiate between an artist, an artistic process and products of art. And nowhere did I say that computer games can’t possibly be art. What I actually said, is this:

    I can’t remember a single one which came even close to my definition

    That is so. I have to admit, a computer game has it much harder to enter that realm by default, because by its nature as a computer game, it’s bound to many more pre-existing concessions in regard to form and content than most other mediums.

    That’s why even the most well crafted games, and even those who plagiarise actual art (Avicenna’s screenshot of the Okami game probably fits into that category) end up being trivial.

    #25 Holms

    Your argument is simply ‘I have not experienced a computer game that qualified as art according to my subjective criteria (which aren’t relevant anyway), therefore NO computer game is art

    Here’s what I actually wrote:

    Computer games are not considered art. Not by the makers, not by the consumers, and not by the public.

    It’s true that it doesn’t matter what my own definition is, but if other people apply their own definitions and still answer “No!” to the question whether computer games are art, then my observation is correct. In general, people don’t consider computer games art.

    I share that opinion for reasons I see as conclusive. You may not share that opinion, but as you already found out, a single opinion doesn’t matter anyway.

    However, if your primary computer game experiences date back to your C64…rhubarb

    Start applying common sense.

  25. Holms says

    That is so. I have to admit, a computer game has it much harder to enter that realm by default, because by its nature as a computer game, it’s bound to many more pre-existing concessions in regard to form and content than most other mediums.

    That may be so, but consider also the fact that a game has the potential to combine the elements of many forms of existing media: visual design, animation, music, storytelling, and more. They are basically a movie, with every element that a movie can have… plus interactivity. Just like movies, there are many blatant cash cows, but there are also many genuine expressions of story, character development, musical composition, and anything else a movie can have… plus interactivity.

    Essentially, computer games are simply the newst medium for expression, and it is only the stuffy ‘old guard’ that disagree. Do you think the various media we take for granted as genuine art were considered so immediately? Take photography for example. I am no art historian, but I suspect painters especially mistrusted this new form of visual expression and contined with their worship of the old Masters, scorning what they saw as crass modernity.

    Or electircal instruments debuting amongst big band jazz and orchestras; again I suspect the staid old crowd disregarded the electric guitar in much the same way, insisting that it wasn’t ‘proper’ music right up until they were crowded out by people ignoring them.

    This is simply the same old cycle repeating itself.

    In general, people don’t consider computer games art.

    Your entire argument hinges on whther everyone agrees with you. They don’t. There is a broad range of response to this question, which has gone unnoticed by you; your lack of contact with the game world for the last 30 years is the most likely reason why this is so.

  26. Schlumbumbi says

    #27 Holms

    (1) Ok, let’s get this one out of the way because it gets creepier with each post – I did not say that the last time I played a video game was in 1982. I started playing videogames in 1982 and I’ve been doing it ever since.

    (2) “Ars” (latin) originally translates to versatility, capability. I understand it that way.

    One the one hand, I look at an “old master”, someone who assembles and prepares each of his working materials, who studies composition, technique, texture, lighting etc., and still comes out on top with his unique creations which are still admired by millions after centuries past.

    On the other hand, I look at some dude who opens up his copy of photoshop, uses prebuilt functions to create some content, arranges stuff a bit and if he can be bothered, pushes around some pixels manually. He uploads it on deviantart and gets 10 positive comments.

    I can’t help but see a profound difference between the two.

    And while many game designers put much more effort into their output, they will still tend to be the 2nd type, rather than the 1st. They have to work with prebuilt resources and tools (computer,software) and will have their work incorporated into a premade setup (game engine, layout and storytelling).

    Their personal contribution in relation to their final output is relatively small when compared to, what I would call, “real” artists. I think that’s quite a good rule of thumb on the “means” side I was talking about. You can call that “old school”, or “old guard” – I would call it paying respect where respect is due.

    So, computer games aren’t “just a new medium”. They’re a medium with a pretty narrow scope of expression and lots of technical restraints – definetely not the perfect starting point for producing “art”.

    Same with photographers. Those who are considered “artists”, maximised their personal contribution by overcoming the restraints and restrictions the medium was thought to impose on them.
    Same with musicians. Pushing the “distortion” paddle isn’t the same as inventing your own finger technique for acoustic guitars.
    Same with music composition. Max Martin isn’t Mozart, no matter how many records he’s been selling.

    PS: I’m not insisting on definitions up to look cool. I’m using them because they allow me to tell things apart from each other, which might look similar on the surface.

    PPS The only reason why I’m so verbose on this particular topic, is because art is the only form of expression which doesn’t immediately come under attack when the content/message becomes unpleasant. Art is usually granted much more freedom than any other form of expression, and usually has a wider range of influence on different parts of society as well.

    => If you really want to get serious with the “Nazi evil” perspective, you better not cloak it in trivialities, or you’ll find yourself being ripped to pieces by the PC crowds.

    (3) Chosing a shooter game type for the “bad guy perspective”, is really really odd.

    I would say, it’s the one genre, which makes this entire enterprise pointless. What depth of character or plot do you see in shooters, compared to let’s say RPGs ? “Calm down,it’s just a shooter” will be the standard answer to the hand-wringers and whiners that don’t like the Nazi player perspective.

    I mean, let me ask you: Would you play a wellmade Nazi RPG? I would certainly appreciate it.

  27. says

    Most people who paint do not make the paints.

    As for modern musicians who are “artists” of Mozart Caliber?

    Flavour Flav. He is entirely self taught and literally has a Midas Touch when it comes to music. Drums, Piano, Wind, Guitar… I think he doesn’t play strings and that’s probably due to not having access to one. Ignore the stupid clock, the man’s probably as talented. The man plays 15 instruments. He was Public Enemies ENTIRE musical grunt. Because he could not play all the instruments on stage he would pre-record and then simply look the fool but that’s because his entire work was already done. You were hearing it. And remember, no one was around to teach him. He can also cook.

    Robert Plant? Hendrix? Oh today? There are plenty of incredibly talented musicians out there. Your problem is what we call “Snootiness”.

    You simply cannot accept art outside a very specific and narrow view.

    Oh as for effort?

    It takes thousands of man hours to make a game. Each one would be akin to painting the Sistine Chapel. If it is labour that determines art then games require it in spades.

    Have you even played recent games? Many of them are works of art. They are aesthetically pleasing experiences that often have a message that the game makers wanted to convey. They are interactive, they are no less a valid medium than movies.

    One doesn’t need limitations in movies to make it art. You don’t consider a movie art simply because it does something novel or pointlessly hard. You consider it art.

    Pop-Art or art for the masses is a “thing”. Is your photo less valid because it’s on millions of screens? Exclusivity is not a hallmark of art. It is a hallmark of people who think art is old and expensive.

  28. Schlumbumbi says

    #29 Avicenna — Since you ignored almost every single point I made, let me return the favor and come straight to the core of your argument:

    It takes thousands of man hours to make a game. Each one would be akin to painting the Sistine Chapel. If it is labour that determines art then games require it in spades.

    Your hobnailed interpretation of what I wrote, tells me 1 thing : You don’t have a concept of “art”. None whatsoever. I don’t even know if you can tell the difference between quantitative/horizontal and qualitative/vertical levels of effort.

    Aesthetics ? Talent ? Working hours ? That’s all you ask for ? Contributions of non-artists, which when put together, magically give rise to a piece of art ? Pepsi bottles, car fenders, hentai porn and Justin Bieber … this world, my god, it’s full of art. Fuck me.

    Place of residence: Discworld. Profession: Calling tourists snooty and narrow minded.

  29. sqlrob says

    Schlumbumbi #30:

    Contributions of non-artists, which when put together, magically give rise to a piece of art ?

    How many of the people involved in making a movie considered art are actually artists? Are you saying there’s a specific ratio required? If only 1 is needed, are you saying that no artists at all are involved in making games?

  30. says

    1. Justin Beiber can sing better than me. Arguably he is more of an artist. Maybe like Van Gogh people may discover my songs and declare me the greatest singer of all time but I won’t hold my breath. I sound like a cat that’s gotten stuck in a shower.

    2. Quantitative effort = Time, Qualitative effort = Talent. However neither hold a monopoly on art.

    3. Art isn’t just in the hands of “artists”, its not a qualification. If your work means something to you or to others then it’s art. If what you make aesthetically pleases you then it’s art. If you drink food colouring and vomit onto your hand to leave a stencil of your hand it is art if someone else considers it art. That is fine by me, I like other stuff but if you want that on your wall then knock yourself out.

    4. Design also is art. Art doesn’t have to be entirely non-functional. One can easily arguue that the engineering of my violin is “art”. No one would fault a Stradivarius as not being a work of art despite being entirely functional. A coke bottle is art, so are car fenders. You may not consider hentai to be art yet would consider Japanese 200 year old erotica to be art too. The line you have is arbitrary.

  31. says

    The terminology gets a bit sloppy and lazy at times

    It’s not the terminology that’s getting sloppy and lazy.

    I’d expect most posters on FTB to be wise enough to sheer away from the “what is art” debate, for reasons that you illustrate very effectively: it’s a discussion that engages the question of subjectivity and objectivity in aesthetics and the ability of any individual to judge a subjective experience objectively. You utterly fail to make a good case that you have any idea what “art” is or is not. Perhaps you are too sloppy and lazy.

    For example, another definition of “art” (why should we accept yours?) would be “it’s a shorthand for ‘artifact’” and anything that is made by humans with the intent to create an aesthetic experience in themselves or others is “art”; there is no objective quality to art and it is purely subjective. Now, tell me why your definition is better than mine.

  32. angharad says

    Yes, I have been biting my lip trying not to get any further into ‘what is art’ as it seemed distinctly off topic. Sorry for starting it, Avicenna!

    However I will say this (because I have a small lip and large teeth and am in peril of doing myself some damage): Schlumbumbi, your definition of art doesn’t seem to admit poetry.

  33. Holms says

    One the one hand, I look at an “old master”, someone who assembles and prepares each of his working materials, who studies composition, technique, texture, lighting etc., and still comes out on top with his unique creations which are still admired by millions after centuries past.

    On the other hand, I look at some dude who opens up his copy of photoshop, uses prebuilt functions to create some content, arranges stuff a bit and if he can be bothered, pushes around some pixels manually. He uploads it on deviantart and gets 10 positive comments.

    ALL works of artistic expression reuse elements from earlier works, even the overly vaunted masters. If you insist that only the invention of a new medium or technique or similar qualifies one as an artist, then you are saying that the first e.g. beat poem was art, but no other was nor ever will be, no matter how well it may use the medium.

    Aesthetics ? Talent ? Working hours ? That’s all you ask for ? Contributions of non-artists, which when put together, magically give rise to a piece of art ?

    Yes, pretty much. Many works in many media are collaborative efforts due to their scale, and are not diminished by that fact. However, you are using logic that is the mirror image of that which you criticise, yet to me it is more ludicrous: you are taking the work of a multitude of artists (graphic design, level design, authors, voice actors, composers…), putting their efforts together in a finished product, and concluding that it is no longer art.

    And yes, Beiber’s music is art, but you don’t have to enjoy it for it to be considered such. In this bit of sneering haughtiness, you display your colours – your definition is no more than a rationalisation whereby works of expression that you like are considered art, and those you do not, are not.

    Oh and going back to the question of mainstream recognition (or the lack thereof), did you know the soundtrack composed for Civilisation IV won two Grammys? And not in the categories linked to commercial sales, either: Best Classical Crossover Album, and Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalists.

    Games may not be as well established as say theatre as art, but the recognition is growing.

    So, computer games aren’t “just a new medium”. They’re a medium with a pretty narrow scope of expression and lots of technical restraints – definetely not the perfect starting point for producing “art”.

    I still marvel at your ability to reach the conclusion that games have narrower scope for expression than say, a book, even though it clearly has many more avenues for expression than unaccompanied text. Unless, books are not art because they too are too narrow?

    How many of the people involved in making a movie considered art are actually artists? Are you saying there’s a specific ratio required? If only 1 is needed, are you saying that no artists at all are involved in making games?

    Hm, now here’s a thought. If the ‘art’ is maximised by increasing the ratio of artists to non-artists (setting aside how the hell you determine which is which), does this mean that firing some of the non-art staff means the play or movie or whatever has become more artistic?

  34. Schlumbumbi says

    31 # sqlrob
    A group of non-artists cannot produce a piece of art, like a multitude of bad arguments don’t magically amount to a single good one. (Who’s the first to make a bad joke?). And even if there is an artist in this group, his art will have to manifest in the creation in some meaningful way. If it doesn’t do that, he has wasted his time.

    #32 Avicenna
    I understand what you say. For you, “art” is an attribute among many. For me, it’s a “thing” of its own. It’s real.

    I don’t say that my definition is the only “true” one, but I can safely point to the fact that some works reverberate through the centuries, some even through millenia, while most others don’t. Apparently, these works have something about them, which makes them special in the perception of lots of people. I get that. I’m one of these folks.

    But no, it’s not a popularity contest and no, it doesn’t have to be old or expensive. Don’t mistake a cause for its effects.

    #33 Marcus Ranum

    I’d expect most posters on FTB..

    Some things are better left unsaid. Your other points have been adressed before.

    #34 angharad

    Schlumbumbi, your definition of art doesn’t seem to admit poetry.

    Quite the opposite. With a medium as basic as language, you’ll almost immediately recognise if a creator has elevated his content and craftsmanship of expression to a high level, or not. At that point, the outcome is predictable, regardless of genre.

    And yes, that “discussion” looks quite offtopic, but I’d say it’s closely connected to the question Avicenna asked in his article. This “Nazi perspective” thing is a complete non-issue, unless you admit that there is a level of meaning beyond the triviality of graphics and gameplay. If I try to adopt Avicenna’s point of view, then I’d wonder what that could actually be ?!

    35 # holms
    You’re in the same camp as Avicenna. “Art” is not a concept for you, that’s why you don’t get what I say.

    your definition is no more than a rationalisation whereby works of expression that you like are considered art, and those you do not, are not

    Badwrong. I don’t have to like something in order to recognise it as art. I don’t have to put a check mark behind “pleases me aesthetically ” or “means something to me”. Infact, most art doesn’t appeal to me. Doesn’t matter. It still exists, irregardless of my (non)appreciation.

    (And for JB – his output is objectively average in form and trivial in content. Blaring “Baby Baby Baby” into a microphone and letting producers do everything else, that just doesn’t cut it.

    Let me offer you this comparison: If it looks like a pig and squeals like a pig, it’s most certainly not a duck. And that assessment doesn’t stem from my preference for ducks. Or pigs.

    I still marvel at your ability to reach the conclusion that games have narrower scope for expression than say, a book

    These are 2 different beasts.

    Language as a medium of expression, isn’t changed by, and doesn’t draw value from, the medium by which it is contained. It comes in one form, or another. A poem you’ve once read in a book, doesn’t suddenly change because it’s recited to you by another person.

    A computer game is different. While it consists of many single elements, it’s more than just the sum of these. The medium of containment is the medium of expression, and that’s what determines its value.

    The scope of expression however is limited, because (A) your work as a game creator is just the 1% tip of the iceberg, put on top of a large amount of pre-fabricated elements, which aren’t yours to begin with (from the CPU at the bottom to the graphics engine at the top) and (B) because these exact same elements limit the way you can interact with the user (monitor, speakers, mouse).

    So yes, putting different things together gives you more possibilities, but your contribution is limited by the very same setup that makes this collection possible in the first place = You’re not as free as you thought you’d be.

  35. Holms says

    A group of non-artists cannot produce a piece of art, like a multitude of bad arguments don’t magically amount to a single good one.

    And yet, movies are widely accepted as an art form, despite primarily being staffed by technical and labout staff. Games are simply newer and thus have yet to reach that level of acceptance, but it is growing.

    You’re in the same camp as Avicenna. “Art” is not a concept for you, that’s why you don’t get what I say.

    You’re actually trying to tell me what my own thoughts are. Shoo.

    Language as a medium of expression, isn’t changed by, and doesn’t draw value from, the medium by which it is contained. It comes in one form, or another. A poem you’ve once read in a book, doesn’t suddenly change because it’s recited to you by another person.

    Unless it’s part of a game, at which point you seem to think it is no longer art. Sure dude.

    your work as a game creator is just the 1% tip of the iceberg, put on top of a large amount of pre-fabricated elements, which aren’t yours to begin with (from the CPU at the bottom to the graphics engine at the top)

    The error here being that a player does not see the stuff ‘under the hood’, they see the final presentation. They see the backgrounds, level designs, character designs but don’t see the graphics engine; they hear the dialogue, music and sound effects without hearing the sound software; they experience the plot unfolding and the characters interacting with drama or humour or even sorrow from the storytelling, and none of that experience is reduced by the fact that the game was made with one code monkey or a hundred.

  36. Félix Desrochers-Guérin says

    I had a paladin (who called himself only “Fist Of God”) who, of course, was Lawful/Good. But he had a rather low INT paired with his 18/50 CHR and I played him as an ideologic dumbass

    First time I ever see percentile charisma. Which version of D&D was that?

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