NPR: Games Lack Depth


Posted April 16, 2008 - By Stephen Johnson

The latte-swilling liberals over at National Public Radio recently turned their gaze on videogames.

The radio report, aired yesterday on All Things Considered, examines whether games are socially responsible enough, concluding games are shying away from "issues" they should be addressing, categorized on their site as "teen pregnancy and the War in Iraq."

Ian Bogust, a professor of game design at Virginia Tech, says the game industry should be made to address these issues. He gives Black Site and its rumination on loyalty among soldiers, as a good example of a socially aware game (without addressing the fact that it's a generic FPS that wasn't all that fun.)

While we understand a four minute radio report can't sum up such a complicated idea as social commentary in gaming, NPR's maddening report ignores the fact that some of the most popular titles in gaming history are among the most "socially relevant" ever producer--if you play Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and don't notice it's an intelligent, biting critique of popular culture and American society, you're not paying very close attention. And what about Metal Gear? And how about the Universal themes explored in Halo? Or God of War? Etc., etc.

The fact that videogame makers can't (or rather shouldn't) lead players along by the nose toward certain facile observations (IE: War is bad), doesn't mean game makers are eschewing some "responsibility" that hand-wringers want them to have. It just means game like that aren't fun, so no one will play them.

Listen yourself, but don't blame me if it makes you angry.

Tags: Videogames
NPR: Games Lack Depth


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