"It's Time We Have The Talk" ~Jonathan Blow
Tuesday, September 16, 2008 at 9:36AM
Richard Terrell (KirbyKid) in Critique, Jonathan Blow

These are sad times for the video game industry (at least for some developers). These are sad times because someone like Jonathan Blow felt compelled to present a talk attempting to explain/teach developers that they should look carefully at their games as they build them and push themselves to be more creative. While listening to this talk I couldn't help but think nearly everything that Blow said was common sense and/or instinctual for the good developers. But because there are so many bad games made by bad, supposedly clueless developers Blow had to adress these issues. It's times like this that make me feel like the video games industry is still in a period of nonage, and insightful individuals like Blow have to father us by telling us to brush our teeth and to use soap. The gaming industry has sprung up all of a sudden it seems. We're all relatively new to the medium that we're defining as we go along, and it doesn't help that we anre't well supported by academia.

The way I currently see things, if a developer of a bad game didn't know to monitor the level of "conveyance" between the game and the player throughout development and he/she didn't bother to "push" their ideas past their initial conception, then such a developer needs to go back to game design school (if there is a school that teaches such important skills). Making good games is no harder than making interesting movies or writing captivating books. Each medium has their limitations and their core method of effective communication/conveyance. Understanding these things, for most people, requires study and discipline. And beyond understanding the intricacies of a medium, being creative and expressive are two skills that are difficult to teach.

Video games are inherently complicated. Rules, mechanics, and half-real game worlds are some of the newest and most dynamic qualities in any artform. What's interesting about understanding game design is that it's nearly identical to the design found in everything that already exits. Paintings. Music. Architecture. Scholastic systems. Movies. Literature. Actions. Toothbrushes. Anything. Drawing inspiration from life for the development of a video game requires a certain understanding of how the world "works" or how it functions. And it is to this end that I plan on redesigning the critical-casts.

Previously, the critical-casts served as a supplementary production that was centered around responding to popular industry podcasts, in house indie development, and setting up design challenges. While all of this content had a purpose, it took too much time to organize and plan. Though I still want to cover these topics when they come up, I'd rather focus on discussing the design of things that aren't video games. If the Critical-Gaming blog covers video games in detail articles, then Critical-Casts should cover my critique and commentary on the rest of life so that a bridge can be established between the two.

Another problem with the old critical-casts formatt, is that I was restricted to recording on my desktop PC. This was a problem because all of the natural, free flowing conversations I have with the B.E.S team happen everywhere but near my PC. So I'm looking into getting one of these. Hopefully, this will allow me the freedom to capture the content straight out of the spontineatiy of life.

Don't expect the new cast too soon. I'm still bogged down in articles I need to write. But keep the channels and your mind open.

Glad to have had this talk, son.

Article originally appeared on Critical-Gaming Network (http://critical-gaming.com/).
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