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World Without Games

For the latest issue of The Escapist, game designer Allen Varney posits the question: “If you were legally enjoined from creating games, what would you do instead?” He quizzed a number of game designers (both of the computer and tabletop varieties), including Steve Jackson, Raph Koster, Sandy Petersen, Don Perrin, and me. Their answers are a ball of fun. For myself, I said:

Given how such prohibitions often increase the demand and the prices paid for the illicit materials, I’d set myself up as the Al Capone of the gaming industry, supplying that demand through black market means. I’d ruthlessly wipe out rivals who tried to smuggle in Canadian games.

Must come from living too close to Chicago. (I’ll cut off Ken Hite here by admitting there’s no such thing as too close to Chicago—only too far.)

Comments 12

  1. I just found The Escapist last week, and I have to say that it’s a nice looking ezine. I’m particularly impressed that it’s formatted so that you get a whole page per screen. That’s just a very nice touch.

    The ‘I Will Survive’ article was interesting, but I was particularly struck by the editor’s comments about that oft vexatious subject of games and art. I am very much in the ‘hell no’ camp on this one, unlike Julianne Greer. Still I have to respect Greer when she notes that “if you don’t believe it, I cannot convince you with finely worded arguments.” And vice versa I imagine!

    More interesting that than though was what struck me as her very pragmatic reason for considering it important to hold this view: that as ‘art’, games enjoy protection under the US constitution. This is a take on the issue that is simply has no meaning here in Britain. I wonder if this pragmatism trumps the abstract argument in Greer’s case?

    Cheers,
    John 😉

  2. I just found The Escapist last week, and I have to say that it’s a nice looking ezine. I’m particularly impressed that it’s formatted so that you get a whole page per screen. That’s just a very nice touch.

    The ‘I Will Survive’ article was interesting, but I was particularly struck by the editor’s comments about that oft vexatious subject of games and art. I am very much in the ‘hell no’ camp on this one, unlike Julianne Greer. Still I have to respect Greer when she notes that “if you don’t believe it, I cannot convince you with finely worded arguments.” And vice versa I imagine!

    More interesting that than though was what struck me as her very pragmatic reason for considering it important to hold this view: that as ‘art’, games enjoy protection under the US constitution. This is a take on the issue that is simply has no meaning here in Britain. I wonder if this pragmatism trumps the abstract argument in Greer’s case?

    Cheers,
    John 😉

  3. Hi John!

    Good points! I think that the editor (Julianne Greer) tosses around the word “art” in this context without consideration for all its loaded meanings. It’s clear that she means that games are a form of expression—which doesn’t necessarily need to muster artistic merit to be protected under our First Amendment. It’s easier to gather sympathies from others if you claim an art form is under attack, but I don’t think you need to go that far to show that games constitute a protectable form of expression—at least here in the States.

  4. Post
    Author

    Hi John!

    Good points! I think that the editor (Julianne Greer) tosses around the word “art” in this context without consideration for all its loaded meanings. It’s clear that she means that games are a form of expression—which doesn’t necessarily need to muster artistic merit to be protected under our First Amendment. It’s easier to gather sympathies from others if you claim an art form is under attack, but I don’t think you need to go that far to show that games constitute a protectable form of expression—at least here in the States.

  5. “I think that the editor (Julianne Greer) tosses around the word “art” in this context without consideration for all its loaded meanings.”

    I dunno Matt. Greer tells us that she “could get into a long discussion here of the etiology of the word art and how that applies to videogames; could give a nice comparison of the process behind various accepted-as-art forms and the creative process behind games; [and] could even discuss various philosophers’ and critics’ ideas of what constitutes “art.” This suggests to me someone who has indeed considered those loaded meanings, even if we aren’t treated to an account of her musings and conclusions.

    I doubt that anyone would deny that “games are a form of expression”. I just think that anyone who tags that with the word ‘art’ would surely have a pretty fair idea of what they are doing, especially when the application of the term to games is controversial among gamers.YMMV of course.

    Cheers,
    John 😉

  6. “I think that the editor (Julianne Greer) tosses around the word “art” in this context without consideration for all its loaded meanings.”

    I dunno Matt. Greer tells us that she “could get into a long discussion here of the etiology of the word art and how that applies to videogames; could give a nice comparison of the process behind various accepted-as-art forms and the creative process behind games; [and] could even discuss various philosophers’ and critics’ ideas of what constitutes “art.” This suggests to me someone who has indeed considered those loaded meanings, even if we aren’t treated to an account of her musings and conclusions.

    I doubt that anyone would deny that “games are a form of expression”. I just think that anyone who tags that with the word ‘art’ would surely have a pretty fair idea of what they are doing, especially when the application of the term to games is controversial among gamers.YMMV of course.

    Cheers,
    John 😉

  7. Sure thing, John. My point is I don’t think she needs to make that argument here. Expressions don’t have to be art of any kind to be protected in the States. Bringing the matter of whether or not something is art into the argument calls for standards and value judgments. I think she’d be better served by avoiding that altogether—which she mostly does.

  8. Post
    Author

    Sure thing, John. My point is I don’t think she needs to make that argument here. Expressions don’t have to be art of any kind to be protected in the States. Bringing the matter of whether or not something is art into the argument calls for standards and value judgments. I think she’d be better served by avoiding that altogether—which she mostly does.

    1. It depends on what your goals are. You could develop the skills and contacts to do it yourself and pursue it as an independent project. If you want to just pitch it to a developer, that’s challenging, since most developers have plenty of ideas of their own. If you’re an established pro, you have a chance they would listen to you. You get to that point by working on a few games for yourself or other people and establishing your credentials.

    1. Post
      Author

      It depends on what your goals are. You could develop the skills and contacts to do it yourself and pursue it as an independent project. If you want to just pitch it to a developer, that’s challenging, since most developers have plenty of ideas of their own. If you’re an established pro, you have a chance they would listen to you. You get to that point by working on a few games for yourself or other people and establishing your credentials.

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