COMPUTER GAME Studies _ Term Two_ Task Two: 500 words essay

Task Two:

Submit 500 words essay to show your findings of the advantages and disadvantages of the older and newer technologies and their benefits to their respective societies.


This research area is very broad in its scope. My essay will therefore focus specifically on one aspect, creativity, and how older and newer technologies enabled/or not positive creative growth in the respective societies.

In this sense, I am putting technology in the position of creativity enabler, rather than part of the actual video game concept. My research angle is about how new or old technologies have enabled the creativity of the game concept to grow, to get better, to be supported and enhanced.

And by game concept I don’t just mean the territory in which the idea plays, I also mean the creativity of its storyline/narrative, its design, its mindmap, its character and environment.

For example, one of the very first games to come into commerce – after the first ever Spacewar (1953) – was Pong in 1972 and both its graphic and storyline are incredibly strong but simple: it’s a stick with a square bouncing on it, or if you play in two (which you could, yeah progress!) it’s two sticks at the opposite side of the screen with a square bouncing from one to the other. Because technology was so limited at the time (we just got around having a screen where we could have graphics and sounds, well …beeps), the creativity in this instance uses technology to its best but to its simplest form while thinking outside the box: SIMPLICITY in these first decades is key together with LATERAL THINKING… for example, epiphany was reached for Pong when developers realised they should – and could- make the ball bounce at different angles depending on where it hit the stick (nowadays paddle).

60s and early 70s _  Major player Atari.

After Pong, in the late 70s early 80s, another amazing creativity benchmark was hit when new player Namco invested in its creative talent with a total free mind and hired Toru Iwatani, an artist, puppeteer, designer and self-taught nerd all at the same time, and in 1980 released PacMan, a cute ball that munches its way through anything and everything. The development of PacMan by Namco was initiated, in the brainstorming (that is what legend says) by thinking Japanese women’s market and one of its major insights: eating. So the developers (puppeteer/creator/designer/self-thought-nerd included) apparently went out, ordered a pizza, took a slice off and there was PacMan! Ah, creativity at its best.

In 1985’s came the big hit from Nintendo, Super Mario Bros, which was so successful because the creative key that pushed the entertainment value so high was very simple and again a direct consequence of out-of-the-box thinking: in the narrative the character is someone with whom the player can identify. And again, the creativity in the aesthetic make the graphic super simple but incredibly effective: because of the limited number of pixels available, designers pushed harsh colours, red top, blue dungarees, a hat (to avoid the details of a hairstyle) and a moustache (to avoid again the details of a mouth).

One additional creative point in this decade was the breakthrough in the fact that games could not only be action based but also exploration based: in 1986 we have the release of first major success of this kind, The legend of Zelda, always by Nintendo, major player of this decade.

In the early 90’s Sega launched MegaDrive and another massive hit came to the video gaming industry: Sonic the Hedgehog was born in 1991. And again, incredibly simple but immensely effective graphics, a strong INSIGHT INTO CONSUMERS – at the mo. grunge generation- videogame becoming a form of youth expression and creativity still working at its best to deliver something amazing with very little tools.

Up until this point, is for me, the most satisfying era of video games-creativity specifically in respect to my angel of research: up until now video games were solely RELEVANT to the end consumer.

After this point in time, creativity becomes more about realistic aesthetics and customisation. From the early 90’s onwards, as technologies advanced and became more sophisticated, with faster processors, motion graphic etc, giving 100 times more options in graphic, coding, developing etc., the emphasis dramatically – and sadly – shifted towards hyperrealism.

From the 90’s onwards the advantages of the technology in relation to creativity can be seen much more in elements like the narrative ego-referred COMPLEXITY, the use of heroes (who doesn’t want to be a hero for once), on a quest (I as game player, am not only a hero but a brave adventurer), as an entity having control (and I have control of my powers), first person point of view gaming known as God games (and to my actions there are immediate consequences). Secondly, the advent to the mass market of INTERNET means that the multi-player mode becomes possible, with players connecting all over the world. Thirdly, three-dimensional-3D graphics and easier accessibility to MOTION-CAPTURE mean the aesthetics can be much more complex and open to immense possibilities, as the characters in the game become more and more proper virtual puppets one can give life to.

Not only this but two other major player in these two latest decades have massively impacted on the sense, vision, motive behind video gaming and its industry. The CINEMA industry with Hollywood and MILITARY investments have made it possible for the gaming industry to dive even more into these new but incredibly expensive technologies of 3d and motion capture and has massively grown as well thanks to these two players. Think just of all the military and movie games out and about financed by the two players above. What a great news

But is it? At what price? Has creativity blossomed since all this money has been poured in? Since these two massive personas have put their ego into the video gaming world have consumers discovered something relevant to them? Unfortunately I don’t think so, I really don’t and it makes me sad to thin k we don’t even see it.

From the 90’s onwards all the elements mentioned above make the gaming industry of much more interest to the government, so much so, that if one looks at the games now, most of them are actually training tools for military operatives or career, that is why so many are about war and fighting (let’s teach war hey) or strategy (let’s teach management hey). This is what, for me is the disadvantage of modern technology, the creativity has decreased in direct proportion to the technological advances.

Investment from both the military and Hollywood while in the short term might well drive creativity, in the long term it drives progress only, and it seems to move away from fantasy towards realism and simulation for the purposes of training: their interest does not lie in producing a product that consumers will be hooked to because RELEVANT to them but a product packaged to attract them but actually not relevant to the consumer in the sense that it does not make them grow, express, use this tool to progress and it does not play on a consumer need, basically, but a government need or a corporate let’s break this horrible pattern and come up with more non-realistic, out of the norm, into the deep emotions insights and games again. Think about it, we have 3d… why are we copying reality? Why are we not doing crazy things? Think motion capture… why are we using humans instead of real puppets, why do we constrain ourselves to the law of physics for humans? For example we can have elbows that bend both ways with a puppet, not with a human, why are we not doing that, why are we not thinking so simply out of the box?

Author: MoBbIt_fOS

Independent Experimental Artist. live art- sound- physical and digital 3d installation, sculpture, performance and puppetry- game engines

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