Thursday, November 29, 2007

Gaming Links and Notes

Hey, it's a link for that other guitar game! Matt Peckham linked to two videos of "wuLFe79" over at PC World, and they're both insane. The first is a 100% performance of "Cliffs of Dover" on Expert, and the second is breaking 1,000,000,000 points in co-op on "The Devil Went Down to Georgia." That Cliffs of Dover video is sick and wrong. Thanks to Andy Herron for the link.

Sleater-Kinney's guitarist Carrie Brownstein actually tried out Rock Band, and she wrote two interesting columns about the experience. In the first, after being entirely dismissive of the possibilities of the game (and winding up liking it), she writes this:
I suppose it's pointless to try to break it down in this way, into a dualistic Rock Band vs. real band. Not even the creators of Rock Band could possibly believe that playing the game is tantamount to making your own music. There is, however, a sad similarity between Rock Band and some actual bands, and that is the attempt at realness. With so much of music blurring the lines between ersatz and authenticity, at least the Rock Band game is a tribute to rock, rather than an affront. In the realm of fakery, I would choose Rock Band over American Idol or over any of the other flimsy truths masquerading as music. With Rock Band, you can play along to Black Sabbath or Nirvana and possibly find new ways of appreciating their artistry by being allowed to perform parallel to it. Rock Band puts you inside the guts of a song.

These days, it might be easier to exalt the fake than to try to make sense of the genuine. But maybe by pretending to be in a band, there will be those who'll find the nerve to go beyond the game, and to take the brave leaps required to create something real.

The second column is just as interesting:
Part of me feels that Rock Band is yet another example of our culture's increased tolerance of phoniness, whether for the sake of simplicity or out of sheer denial. It's certainly easier to pretend to make art or to speak the truth than to actually do either.

But it is also unfair to hold Rock Band, a video game, to the same standards that I do artists, or politicians for that matter.

...So, do I like Rock Band? In short, yes. If people listen to David Bowie or Black Sabbath because of the game, if they get even one glimpse of Keith Moon's frantic genius or feel how Kurt Cobain's guitar lines were as expressive as his hoarse cry, then Rock Band is better than listening to most of the awful music out there. And, the truth is, not everyone should form a band. Any stroll on MySpace or visit to a modern rock station will tell you that. There are probably a handful of bands who would be doing the world a favor if they broke up and played Rock Band instead. They might actually learn a thing or two.

N'Gai Croal has a thoughtful post over at Level Up about "social sanctions" in games, and he writes this:
...while videogames have become fairly accomplished at making us feel good about what we're doing, there's a whole lot more they could explore by making us feel bad about our actions.

I think that's going to be a breakthrough moment: when a game makes you feel awful, truly awful, about what you've done.

Here's a very entertaining article about Harvey Smith and his comments about what went wrong during the development of Blacksite: Area 51. Here's my favorite excerpt:
"This project was so f***ed up," said Smith, by way of explanation.

+10 for candor, which is a rare quality when it comes to discussing bad games. He says much more, though, and it's a good read.

Here's what I can't understand about Blacksite. It was SUICIDE to release it when they did. Holding it until February would have given the team two more months and it would have sold more copies just by virtue of it being almost alone on the release schedule. What was Midway thinking?

Gamasutra has an opinion column titled "Cloning Created the Casual Game Business," and one excerpt in particular was particularly interesting:
The Casual Games industry is growing chiefly because game types are more popular than games.

That's often true in the "regular" games industry as well.

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