Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Games Are Art Too

The mediums of theater, literature, and cinema are all used for storytelling, and have all been subjected to detailed, academic, artistic analysis. You can find books and college classes dedicated to the analysis of the themes and characters of plays, books, and movies.

When will we start seeing that kind of scholarly attention paid to the stories told in video games? Yes, most video games don't have a story worth discussing, but there are a few diamonds out there in that digital rough. There are developers out there who are genuinely interested in telling deep, meaningful stories through games, and I hope that one day, they receive as much respect as any author, playwright, or filmmaker.

The problem, of course, is that while it's still possible to read a Shakespeare play, or watch Citizen Kane, it's sometimes difficult to experience older, classic games, due to system incompatibilities. Also, the act of curating old, out-of-print titles (sometimes called abandonware) is frequently considered to be piracy.

I believe there will always be folks out there willing to build emulators to support well-loved games of the past. It would be a shame, though, if some of those stories were to completely disappear because the copyright holders will neither permit free distribution of old games or provide any way for the games to be purchased and played legally.