This Atlantic piece on famed Braid creator Jonathan Blow has been passed around heavily online, but I finally got around to reading it this weekend. I’d recommend it, if nothing more for seeing author Taylor Clark – someone who’s clearly not a gamer – try to assess the “hard core” gaming scene from a fresh journalistic angle.
That said, Jonathan Blow comes off as pretty unpleasant. The guy clearly has a near messianic view of his own importance in gaming; he knocked out an “objectively better game than Pac-Man” on his Commodore 64 as a teenager? Total illusions of grandeur.
Also Clark makes too many generalizations of the industry. He’ll start out with something semi-reasonable:
Even the industry’s staunchest defenders acknowledge the chronic dumbness of contemporary video games, usually with a helpless shrug—because, hey, the most ridiculous games can also be the most fun. (After all, the fact that the Super Mario games are about a pudgy plumber with a thick Italian accent who jumps on sinister bipedal mushrooms doesn’t make them less enjoyable to play.)
But then he goes onto a whopper:
But this situation puts video-game advocates in a bind. It’s tough to demand respect for a creative medium when you have to struggle to name anything it has produced in the past 30 years that could be called artistic or intellectually sophisticated.
I’d be as fast to chime in about the general intellectual laziness about the current gaming industry as Clark. But 30 years of lack of artistry or intellectual sophistication? Completely false.