Games and Academic Research
Respond to the assigned material on the form and purpose of academic research. Note that Ex 4 (due on the 12th) asks you to respond to an academic article; you may wish to start reading it now.
What have we learned so far from our exposure to classic games?
Susan, Jessie, Beth Anne, Shellie, and Matt have all sounded pretty excited about some aspect or other about text games.
Jeremy and Cody have shared opinions that are less than enthusiastic. Keith, I can't quite place you into either camp, as you have written about the frustration that comes from the unfamiliar game play, but your posts have focused on history lessons and observations, suggesting you are finding it useful to study something unfamiliar.
As humans, we can't help but interpret the world through the experiences we've had. But remember the theory lecture -- rather than simply looking through the lenses we've got, I'm hoping that this experience is training us to examine the qualities of the lenses we didn't even know we were wearing.
I'm less interested in converting anybody to IF, than I am in asking students to explore and understand a world in which the hard-core gamers chose to play Zork because they wanted the challenge. These games were "fun" to millions of gamers in the 80s, who didn't think of them as merely quaint and diverting; these gamers got excited and addicted and spent their money on them. It took a certain type of person to use a computer in the 80s, and Koster notes that the early games that used reflexes and targeting were easier to develop with the available technology than games that simulated emotions, or ecosystems.
Those early computers did not serve the visual thinkers very well. Yes, they were restrictive, and they forced you think in such a way that would make the game work; they didn't appeal to the visual-thinking people that made Apple so visionary. That's the psychological selling point behind this famous 1984 advertisement for Apple Computers.
Once computers started shipping with CD-ROM drives, you could store a lot more music and graphics, which is what paved the way for more visually rich advengture games. By the mid 90s, home computers could generate 3D graphics on the fly.
But it's important to note that a game that uses rich graphics is restricted in other ways -- it requires an expensive computer, it takes scores of artists years to develop, it requires a server with other players connected to it or else it appears lifeless. The more cinematic the game, the less game-like it becomes, and the more it resembles a movie -- especially when movies come with their own (usually horrible) game tie-in.
Modern commercial games require so much money and so much labor that they're run by committees, and they start to resemble each other because only the most daring and innovative companies are willing to put serious resources into innovating when it's a much safer bet just to give the gamers more of what they already like.