The game always-ending

Clive Thomson wonders if there is an Anti-Carsian conspiracy theory in the games industry…

"In my more cynical moments, I think this whole pursuit of narrative is
the industry’s sneaky way of forcing gamers to buy more products. When
a game has a story that "ends" after 40 hours of play, you have to
throw it away—and go spend another $50 on the next title. That’s
movie-industry logic, not game logic. Chess doesn’t "end." Neither do
hockey, bridge, football, Go, playing with dolls, or even Tetris.
Worse, by selling "narratives," game publishers can cover up the fact
that they rarely create truly new forms of play. In any given year,
I’ll play a dozen first-person shooters with different stories—Save the
world from Martian devils! Penetrate an island full of genetic freaks!—
that are all, at heart, exactly the same game."

From his Slate article, and more at his blog, including his pick of the narratologist backlash against the piece.

0 comments
  1. Andrew said:

    I’m not sure that’s the case – in fact I suspect the opposite. The story doesn’t make you put the game down – it keeps you playing longer, when the gameplay has started to become repetitive. And the way I play simulation games without an end – such as Football Management, Sports, chess, tennis, etc – is always by creating my own narrative for each game, season, etc. It’s a natural human impulse, I think.

    But that’s still no excuse for the silly backstory on the box of Arkenoid.

  2. nick said:

    When a game has a story that “ends” after 40 hours of play, you have to throw it away—and go spend another $50 on the next title.

    Or you get game mods. Some of the more sequential games I’ve played in the past couple of years — ‘Max Payne 2’, and ‘Call of Duty’, for instance — are far more linear in their gameplay than the GTA series, but are almost immediately capable of being repurposed through mods and online play.

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