Videogames licensed from other entertainment properties are widely considered the nadir of video game development, and with good reason.
Peter Molydeux may not be a real person, but he has some very real ideas about the future of game design. "You know, my dream for gaming is in one game you'll shoot someone, and then in a game of, say 'FIFA,' you'll see their son crying," writes Molydeux. "Until developers think outside the box, we're going downhill."
Words often fail us as a means of communication. Take "awesome," for example. Today, we've diluted the term into an affirmation, a toothless term meaning something is "good" or "cool." But in its archaic sense, "awesome" evoked breathtaking magnitude, arousing fear and wonder in equal measure.
For many of us on the verge of adulthood, "Halo 2" online gameplay reminds us of an earlier time—our childhood. "Halo 2" was more than a game, it was a social event, a cultural touchstone that connected millions of people through a shared experience. In the same way children of the '70s can recount the staggering impact of their first time seeing "Star Wars" or "Jaws," someone who grew up in the new millennium can recall the first time they booted up "Halo 2" over the fledgling "Xbox Live" service and battled someone on the other side of the country. It was a pivotal moment of the emerging digital age, a precursor to the always-on connectivity that defines the modern social experience.
Tim Schafer does not do things the normal way. He is a man who wrote his cover letter in the form of a choose-your-own-adventure when applying to his first job as a programmer in the early '90s. His breakthrough came when he was assigned to the the position of lead writer for "The Secret of Monkey Island"—the placeholder dialogue he inserted into a then-serious pirate adventure was so funny that the game was redesigned as the comedy classic. Over the last two decades, this type of creativity has given Schafer a reputation for taking risks and making games that no one else would.
Toby Gard had a problem. Back in the summer of 1993, Gard—a famous British video game designer and consultant—was tasked with creating a more distinctive character for his studio's upcoming game, a 3-D action-platform inspired by the "Indiana Jones" films. However, the game's engine could only display a limited number of polygons, the basic building blocks of any 3-D model. Whereas modern game characters are composed of up to 60,000 polygons, Gard could only use a maximum of 230. It was hard enough making a computerized figure recognizable as a human being, let alone one that would stand out against a glut of similar games.
Barry Bonds is a no-good, cheating scoundrel, and as a general point of fact, Americans hate him. Before someone goes accusing me of hyperbole, let me assure you that I'm not pulling this out of an empty hat. Using fWARs, ELO numbers, and other high level stat-nerd mumbo jumbo that is beyond my humanities-major comprehension, a recent study by the popular sabermetrics site FanGraphs demonstrated that, relative to his talent, Bonds is the least appreciated player in the history of baseball by a country mile.
Oftentimes, an affinity for video games feels like something to hide. Years of association with pocket protectors and Dorito-dusted fingers have left the medium irreparably stigmatized in the eyes of many. But the truth is, video games have grown up.