Monday, February 27, 2012

In The Flesh?

I realize that my first two pieces, while topical, were just slightly behind the zeitgeist. In response to this, I will now go as far as possible from what is current in games to what seems to be nearing an end, or at the very least is well out of the honeymoon phase. And I will take three parts, an introduction post and a conclusion post to do so.

So: plastic-instrument rhythm games!

Wait, don't go, I promise I will do my best to keep this interesting.

I want to use this little blog as a place to explore where video games are, how they got that way, and how, if possible, they might improve (or recover). Naturally, along with the programmers and visual artists and writers and publishers that create games, this also includes the people that play them. In my first piece, I drew from a fair swath of influences and pointed to greater trends and theories about the underlying nature of video games themselves. Since I am still trying to find my voice, this time I want to experiment with telling a more concrete, focused story... and one I know well from experience. Where in the last piece I levied my criticisms at the designers, in this short series I plan to scrutinize the consumers and fans as well.

The rise and fall of this subgenre of games is a story of three major groupings of people in some way responsible for its current audience shortcomings, and each will be covered in its own section. Part 1 is about the general public: the natural arc of any fad that catches the eye of the wider world and eventually recedes. Part 2 centers on the makers of the games: the actions and underlying philosophies of the developers of these types of games, and how one's failures damaged all the others. Part 3, perhaps most personally disappointing, is the tale of how some of the most ardent fans of this type of game spoiled what might have been their best hope at revival or repurposing. With these all properly sketched out, an overarching idea can at last be explored.

I realize that there will be a lot of specific details to catalog, but without all the players and their relations clear, the moral of this little saga may be lost. This is also why I plan to toss in a handful of YouTubes; along with the usual breaking up of potential monotony, they can also show off the gameplay mechanisms and musical content I make mention of. Here's one just for kicks, though.

Ooh, pretty.

I hope you choose to join me. To conclude this small prologue and foreshadow the final conclusion, I will use a quote from the lyrics from a band of Australians from the 1990s who sang satirical novelty songs while wearing balaclavas:
It takes a great person to get a idea /
But don't go public it'll ruin the plan /
Because no matter how clever and original you are /
You're only as good as your fans.

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