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Opinion: Video games require one element: Fun

June 21, 2012
By JEREMY KINS - Staff writer (jkins@heraldstaronline.com) , The Herald-Star

Enough with the caring about whether games can be art.

While a few years ago I wrote an article for my college's paper about the viability of video games as an artform - a stance I still believe in - I realize lately that I simply don't care as much.

What I do care about is one thing, and that thing is fun.

Video games need to be that, pure and simple, more so than anything else. More than being meaningful, more than artistic and more than being deep.

Don't get me wrong, when done right those aspects can only fruitfully add to an experience, but I think we as a gamers society are placing far too much emphasis on the fact.

Public perception, whether we like it or not, isn't likely to change no matter how many "Braid's" or "Limbo's" come our way. "Shadow of Colossus" offers a morally ambiguous tale about right and wrong and religious symbolism, but that doesn't mean the next kid that's played "DOOM" and ends up killing someone won't be tied to it.

Gaming is a scapegoat for the mainstream media and no matter how apparent that is to us, it remains a powerful influence over the societal consensus.

I think the sooner we all realize that, and can just sit back and enjoy what's given to us, the happier we'll be.

I don't mean to disregard the endless hours and sanity spent by every coder, publisher, developer or whoever working toward the release of their perfect product. They give me something to do every day, something to pursue as a career and for that I'm ever-thankful.

All I'm saying is that - well, I'll give an example from Tuesday night that started this internal debate.

As I was checking Twitter, I saw that Yuke's - the creators of "Rumble Roses XX" - is developing a game based on the Lingerie Football League, or the LFL.

My first thoughts were "sweet," "weird" and "this makes me a little uncomfortable."

Still though, given the right gameplay and tongue-in-cheek approach, it could make for a tasteless good time. I was not in the majority with this feeling.

The comment feed on GameTrailers was blown up with negativity and anonymous whiners complaining about how things like this diminish the public perception of gaming, etc.

Tasteful, tasteless, classy or classless, gaming is meant to be fun.

I think a lot of people have forgotten that to join ranks with the newly formed, hive-mind zealots that insist we have something to prove. That might be harsh, but my brain hurts from the ignorance.

Do we remember "Dead or Alive Beach Volleyball?" That's my favorite example. Sure, there was plenty of bikini-clad women and anatomical "physics," but underneath the jiggles was a surprisingly fun, arcade experience.

Some other notable examples include Suda 51's recently released "Lollipop Chainsaw," a developer no one had a problem with until they decided to put the lead character in a cheerleading outfit and the "Onechanbara" series.

Artfulness has dominated the indie scene as of late, and that seems to be where it can thrive. Art is a risk and a smaller release with a smaller budget makes more sense. "Fez" will never have the mass appeal of "Gears of War," and despite all our crying we buy it and ignore titles like "Psychonauts" when they come out. There are a lot of anonymous hypocrites out there.

If it doesn't sell, it won't get made, and despite the outlash the LFL game will probably end up in the corner next to the Playboys hidden from mom. A guilty pleasure.

We seem to have this perception that sex is what diminishes something's class, yet we herald new innovations in virtual violence.

Fall off the high horse and just enjoy what you're playing. Do I not want games elevated to a respected platform, mentioned in the same sentence as a classic film or painting? Of course I do. I just realize the reality and live in it. I'll fight for gaming's viability, but not at the expense of fun.

Please, someone take me back to when arcades still existed and all that mattered was how many quarters I had in my pocket. Things were simpler then.

 
 

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