Addiction, Storytelling, and Technology

A mind is a terrible thing to waste...

May 18, 2011

Addictions are a terrible thing. They can come from a bottle, a can, a pack of smokes, or a needle. Too many artists fall prey to the belief that mind-altering substances are the key to creativity. They may be crutches and distractions, but they are never the source. And yet, we’ve come a long way from the times of opium dens.

You see, I recently lost my fiancée to addiction. She was brave at first and assured me everything was okay, but in the end, the thirst for more drove her away.

I’ve barely seen her since my mother gave her a copy of Bejeweled 3.

Yes, Bejeweled 3.

Okay, I’m being curt. I spent two hours last week shooting birds from a slingshot at green pigs. I’ve been thinking about this, though. I haven’t played games on a regular basis since the Super Nintendo came out. I play once in a while when I visit my sister, and I played PC games that console since then. Lately, though, it seems as if we’ve taken a step back. We have some of the most advanced technology in history. We can literately create entire worlds inside the computer for us to explore, destroy, and interact with as an epic story unfolds before us.

You could play this…

…or this…

Truth be told, I’ve played through Neverwinter Nights, Freespace, Homeworld, Arkham Asylum, Halo… a few games here and there, and I’ve had fun with the Wii. Games fall into one of two general categories: the expansive and epic, and the seemingly trivial.

I mean, look at Bejeweled or any number of internet flash games. They’re nothing that couldn’t have been done on an NES. They could have been done on an Atari. On the other hand, part of the appeal of games such as God of War and Arkham Asylum is the immersive narrative and open world where you can do almost anything.

The other end of the spectrum contains games like Bejeweled. However, even a game as intricately designed as, say, Grand Theft Auto, has a few simple goals remenicent of the original 8-bit games: get to Area-A before bad guys see you, before time runs out, or kill everything you can see.

No matter how far the technology advances, the basic premise is the same. I take it as a good sign that the classics don’t really go out of style. On the other hand, it’s a bit upsetting that we can’t come up with new material. Maybe the Greeks really did do it all.

Maybe not.

Oh well. Free flash games beat multi-million dollar project. Yay, underdog.

Now time for the links!

  • With all this talk of games and new versions, I’m glad these comic book movies never got past the planning stages.  Especially the Superman movie with Nick Cage.
  • That’s actually it for today. I’m trying to save as much time to work on Charcoal Streets as possible. Things are moving along… See you Friday!
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