Thursday, August 10, 2006

Just Say "No!" to Thinking

There's a fad this month of mocking game theorists, or at least calling them useless. "They talk in incomprehensible jargon!" "They don't contribute anything!" "Name one time theory has been key to a good game!"

Piss off. A lot of academics and theorists are idiots who can't tie their shoes without explaining it in terms of orthogonal interleaving. There are a lot of game developers who have the same problem. It's not exactly unique.

Certainly, theorists have never been useful in game design. It's not like the theory of "game balance" ever added anything to games. Certainly, the ideas of "character advancement" and "branching plots/dialogue" never appear in games. Don't forget that utterly non-existant "reward cycle" never perfected by nonexistant games like WoW and Disgaea.

Oh, right, one or two games might have used the idea of "feedback loops", and maybe a couple might be distantly related to the idea of "agency". Certainly nobody ever makes a game which includes "minigames" or "difficulty levels".

These are all things which were invented by intellectuals. People who thought to themselves, "how can I make this game better?" Then they look back and think, "hey, that bit looks cool. I bet if I tweak it and incorporate it more profoundly, it'll be great!" Or they look forward and think, "I bet if I put in a thingie that does this, people will enjoy the game more!"

Sure, a lot of the talk is in incomprehensible "geekspeak". A lot of it is flat-out worthless. But that stuff isn't intended for you. It's for us. It's us "showing our work". It'll never be used, because it's transition stuff. When you want to determine where a projectile will land, you use a formula provided by a geek. You don't derive that formula from the laws of gravity and motion. But someone had to.

When you read someone talking about "rhizomatic bliggety bloogs", you're seeing their chickenscratches. It's roughly like if you were making your game, and someone came in and saw your 10% engine, with it's colored block characters, lack of FX, and screwed-up gameplay. It's easy to think that the end game will be stupid when you see that.

What would you say to an ass who came in and flatly insulted your primitive prototype?

Oooh. I know this one!

"Fuck you!"


Chill said...

I'd probably say "Fuck off" but I'm non-confrontational.

Craig Perko said...

Obviously. A total wuss. ;)

Duncan said...

Do you feel better now, Craig? That was quite the rant. Needed to get that off your chest, huh?

People are just intimidated by the fact that they don't understand games. Sure, they play them. And they don't ever have to understand them. But all the tech speak makes them feel inadequate about thier hobby. It's the same sort of intellectual bashing that happens in any field.

Aferall... Nobody likes a bunch of smart asses (which we are, lets face it :-P).

Craig Perko said...

I feel better, I suppose. I should post something to get it off the front page... :P

Patrick Dugan said...

If you're reacting to Allen Varney's Escapist article you should note he is a game designer and did the 3rd and 4th editions of Paranoia, a low profile tabletop game orignally designed by Greg Costikyan. Its also possible that he didn't mean to put down intellectual game studies folk so much as the cyclicald debate of narrativism vs. ludology, though he has a very obvious bias against the prior.

But as a guy who's betting lots of money and his future on rhizomatic bliggity bloobs, I can quite emphathize with the fuck you put out, even if its more broad than than.

Craig Perko said...

Him and others.

I find Paranoia to be poorly designed, personally.