Console Games Media PC Games

Seeing Art

If you are like me, and you read Roger Ebert’s excellent Twitter feed and blog, you know he sometimes gets on a subject and won’t let go.  Recently, one such topic has been how video games can’t be art.  Now, video games are pretty close to my heart (as close as movies are to Mr. Ebert’s), and I have felt compelled at times to defend games, but have never posted.  Many others did so so eloquently, and Ebert seemed stuck in his ways, it seemed fairly useless.  Still, after yet good-natured snipe, I had to get this on record:  Video Games Are Art.

I mean, there are some great stories – great stories are art.  In modern games especially, there are beautiful images – images can be art.  I have certainly been moved by games, perhaps not to the same extent as a really outstanding book, but there are levels to everything.  I probably rank games  above most picture art, as far as that goes, but it’s different for everyone.

My favorite ‘video game as art’ example is Half-Life.  Now, I don’t enjoy horror movies, typically.  But the beginning of HL plays out like a horror movie, that is actually supremely enjoyable to me.  It produced real tension, as I crept through the ruined Black Mesa facility.  Doors bursting open, me wildly swinging the crow bar until the headcrab zombie was dead, then laughing and shaking my head at my own reaction.  That’s art, to me.

What causes the outcry about stuff like this is the fact that we gamers are a prickly bunch.  We get derided as childish, lazy, violent-offenders-in-waiting who play killing simulators and brain-numbing MMOs.  So we are touchy when a major media outlet of any kind takes a shot at us.  Even when it’s one we generally like (despite a favorable review for Star Wars: Episode 1).


Beware The Other Head Of Science, Arthur, It Bites!

Okay, so, scientists at the Lawrence Livermore ‘National Ignition Facility’ will be attempting to create a ‘tiny man-made star’ inside their laboratory. This concerns me on multiple levels. First, that is an awesome name for a place of employment. They have that going for them, at least.

However, take a look at the first picture of the four in that article. Some friends of mine were reminded of the test chamber in Half-Life, and you know how that turns out. I don’t own a shotgun, and I am not looking forward to defending myself from headcrabs with a crowbar. The scientists are ‘impatient’, but I would like to ask them to check their numbers 2 or 3 times, just to be safe.

The result should be an explosion in the 32ft-wide reaction chamber which will produce at least 10 times the amount of energy used to create it.

Jeff Wisoff, a former astronaut who is deputy principal associate director of science at the NIF, said: “Everyone is keen to get started, but we have to get the targeting right, otherwise it won€™t work.”

This kind of quote always scares me…‘at least 10 times’…so, they could get a small flash, a blast that fills the 32 foot room, or we could end up with crater a mile wide. To reference Professor Chromedome, “Bah! Warm fuzzy nice-nice! What good is science if no one gets hurt?”.

The Orange Box: HL2++

HL: The Orange Box, coolest game bundle ever? It just might be, if the buzz is to be believed. I know the folks in my circle who have already played it are sold, especially with Portal. TF2 looks like a blast as well. I need this.