Choices make videogames art

I too think that choice is the most important aspect that sets games apart from any other art form. And I think it’s exactly this aspect which non-gamers don’t understand. I remember a news report about „violent videogames“ after a school-shooting, where a scene from Hitman Contracts was shown in which the player was shooting the other patients/test-subjects. Then the moderator said „Pointless killing in the sanatorium is the goal of the game here.“

Of course that’s an insolent lie, but it also points out the misunderstanding many people have about games, namely that you don‘t have to do everything you can do.

Games give you – through their interactivity – the freedom to deviate from paths given to you by the designers. People, who are used to passively consume movies where your experience more or less stays the same no matter how often you watch it, seem to transfer this understanding to videogames and can’t understand that this freedom to choose your path, your narrative and your experience overall, are what makes games special and interesting.

Another aspect is storytelling through level design. The channel Game Makers Toolkit made an interesting video about this called The Last Guardian and the Language of Games.

Supernatural 2×17: Sam kills Madison

This is not just the saddest scene in Supernatural but the most heartbreaking scene in television ever in my opinion (aside from the season 4 ending of Dexter).

Not just the acting is incredible (Dean’s single tear and how he flinches in the end, the desperation on Sam’s face as he stands in the doorway etc.) but the writing and editing too! The pacing is perfect:

  1. The build-up with the conversation and the quit(er) music.
  2. The climax starting with Sam in the doorway, the music getting louder and the camera zooming in on Dean and then
  3. The abrupt end with the shot silencing the music and blending over to the credits.

It’s just so brilliantly written and carried out.