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Ed Webb

Video games are the answer to the New Boring | Technology | guardian.co.uk - 0 views

  • And then there's Saint's Row 3, an open-world crime shooter, that seems to have been concocted entirely by hyperactive 14-year-olds force fed on a diet of sherbet, Red Bull and Korean gangster movies. This is a game in which the player can, entirely at random, bludgeon passers-by with a giant dildo. To the best of my knowledge, Downton Abbey features nothing even remotely comparable – although, to be fair, I skipped most of season two, and may have missed a key scene in which Hugh Bonneville attacks his butler with some nightmarish Edwardian device intended for the cure of female hysteria.
  • Please, if you are a parent and you want something to do with your kids on a wet Sunday afternoon, don't rent the latest heavily marketed CGI bore-fest from a Hollywood studio more interested in selling you merchandise and the moral agenda of its self-serving financers, buy Zelda. Buy Zelda and share a genuinely thrilling, heart-warming escapist fantasy with your children. Certainly, it's not as 'good' as taking them to a museum or getting them to play footie in the park, but if the only alternative is Horrid Henry, it is spectacular – and they will never forget it.
  • Interactivity is a blunt but effective tool to ensure attention and alertness. And as such, video games have never sought to stultify or repress. Video games are not interested in teaching us to make the most out of our tired soft furnishings.
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  • Forget mainstream TV, forget it. It's over – at least in terms of water cooler discussion. Apprentice and X-Factor may reliably trend on Twitter, but it's all ironic chatter mixed with barely-disguised collective embarrassment and culpability. There's nothing enriching there.
  • games demand immersion and investment. Traditionally, this has formed a stereotype of dead-eyed zombies slumped in front of monitors, but of course, through XBox Live and PSN, gamers now constantly communicate with each other, as well as share creative tasks in titles like Little Big Planet and Minecraft. New research from Michigan State University suggests that gamers are more imaginative story-tellers – the findings are far from conclusive, but they don't surprise me. The game worlds in Zelda, Uncharted and Dark Souls are rich and deep. They are cluttered with possibilities.
  • Games get to us on some primal level, they speak to the machine code of the human id – and that can be a good thing.
  • You have your doubts and so do I. But the very least mainstream games do is give us a platform to discuss amazing things. When you talk about Zelda or Uncharted 3, you can talk about beauty, art, mythology and adventure; when you talk about the forthcoming Bioshock: Infinite, you can cover architecture, paranoia and politics and it all makes perfect sense. These elements aren't hidden away, to be teased out by cultural studies students desperate to apply their knowledge of Derrida and Saussure. They're there in the very form, the very function of the games. Modern Warfare 3 and Battlefield 3 are idiotic and politically suspect, but give them five minutes and they'll show you more about the computerised lunacy of contemporary conflict than most of those MOD-arranged shaky cam war reports beamed into your living rooms by over-stretched 24-hour news channels
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