Monday, January 26, 2009

Listened Lately: Shut Up, We're Talking #41

  • I can't tell you how many times I've wanted to participate in a podcast as I listen to them. One of my favorites, and the one I want to talk back to most, is Shut Up, We're Talking. So instead of hacking into the podcast to insert my own views, I'm going to say my peace here in warm, inviting text. This is something I've wanted to do for a while, but I never get around to it before the idea gets stale. Plus, then you don't have to put up with my annoying voice.

  • The topic that stuck me the greatest during podcast #41 was their discussion about breaking away from the executive gamer mentality. It was interesting to hear all of their views, but I think they only acknowledged my thoughts on the subject tangentially to their own thoughts.

  • The "Executive Gamer" was posited by Tim Schafer of Grim Fandango and Psychonauts fame. In the Gamers With Jobs podcast, he defined it as someone plays games as a means to another end, thereby missing the joy of playing the game as its own end. In the gaming community, the term has taken on the broader meaning as a gamer who plays games with any critical viewpoint. While I think this definition is more of a broad brushing than Mr. Schafer intended, it's close enough and resonates with gamers enough to be worthy of discussion. This is especially true as many gamers, like Darren and, well, someone from GWJ, want to shake off this mentality that they think is ruining their fun. While I applaud the sentiment, I wonder if it can be done through any means short of a lobotomy.

  • From my perspective, playing games from an Executive Gamer viewpoint is not about criticism for its own sake. Everyone has likes and dislikes in the games they play. And they will take those experiences into every new game they play. No gamer is a blank slate. To me, the executive gamer is someone who has the ability to formalize those feelings coherently, either vocally, in writing, or just to themselves. Where the average gamer will perceive a flaw in a game, the executive gamer will articulate exactly what that flaw is and may know examples of games which have duplicated or avoided the same problem. I don't think that is something you can make go away by trying hard enough. You might be able to avoid strict analysis, but you can't take away the feeling that something is wrong.

  • To anyone who wants to enjoy gaming without this burden, I wish you luck. But like Adam and Eve before you, you've eaten the forbidden fruit. This time the fruit is from the more specific Tree of Knowledge of Good and Bad Games. Once you've learned to tell the difference, there is no return to a state of ignorant grace.

© 2009 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

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