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Videogames & Authorial Intent

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#1 opus


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Posted 25 January 2011 - 11:10 AM

Videogames Killed Authorial Intent:

Christians love to go on about the importance of authorial intent, and I used to do the same. When it came to novels, movies, music, the main question at hand was “what is the author trying to say?”. We can go from there. Lately, I’ve started to move a little on that issue, but that’s a topic for another, longer post. With games, though, it’s clear: it’s not about the author. In fact, the authors are so numerous, and the development cycle is such a collaborative endeavor, that the author’s intent is nearly impossible to isolate most of the time. Not to mention that the best games excel at providing an experience that differs drastically from one player to the other. The developers can guide this experience, but subtle differences in how the game is played can change the meaning drastically.

IIRC, this is precisely why Ebert said that games can't be art.

#2 M. Leary

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Posted 25 January 2011 - 11:40 AM

That article he links to about Hydro Thunder is fantastic. But my question in response to the above link is: do games have authors?

I read an interesting article on the development of Oregon Trail yesterday, which kind of touches on this question. For these three guys the intent was educational. They wanted to concoct a way to deliver information in a more immersive, engaging way. And I guess we could say that along the way they coded certain features into the experience that forced players to come to grips with the Oregon Trail as emblematic of our own mortality.

But it seems that as games become increasingly complex on the one hand, and social on the other, these giant squads of coders that create games can't help but infuse them with more noticeable anxieties about death and purpose that we all experience on a daily basis.

So while I think it may be problematic to refer to game developers as authors, they do author-like things in the way that they create narrative worlds that mimic our emotional experience of life.

This becomes an even more significant question with respect to MMOs. I hope some good comments ensue at that site.

#3 David Smedberg

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Posted 25 January 2011 - 11:51 AM

Heh. My only thought on this matter is, if videogames are killing authorial intent, then what happens to the videogame (or, rather, TADS text adventure) that I'm writing? :)

#4 Anders


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Posted 25 January 2011 - 01:34 PM

Christians love to go on about the importance of authorial intent[...]

This is perhaps the most telling statement.