For the last decade, most game companies have been governed by one obsessive idea: that making games more lifelike?more three-dimensional and hyperreal?will make them more fun. But this hasn’t worked. Even the crappiest game today has an elaborate 3-D world you can wander around and marvel at the superb rendering of shadows, the elaborate tattoos on the characters, or the lens flares when you look up at the virtual sun. But after you’ve finished admiring the scenery, the game itself is often incredibly tedious. You’re just running around, solving obtuse puzzles, and listening to wretched pseudoacting by virtual characters.
What’s missing? Game-play. What today’s game designers have forgotten is that a video game isn’t about 3-D rendering. In fact, a video game isn’t about “technology” at all. It’s a game, and as game theorists such as Eric Zimmerman have argued, a good game is created by crafting a few simple rules that make your goals teasingly difficult to achieve. —Clive Thompson —Blasts From the Past: What today’s game designers can learn from Space Invaders. (Slate)