Ian Bogost On Gaming's Goodness: Part I
We often try to bring you interesting and original interviews here at PSXE, and our latest is with author, professor of digital media at Georgia Institute of Technology, and founding partner of Persuasive Games LLC, Ian Bogost.
His new book, "How To Do Things With Videogames," explores the benefits of interactive entertainment, and he tries to prove that gaming is both a legitimate and important medium. In the first part of our interview, we talked about how focusing on violence is missing the bigger picture, why defining anything as "art" is tricky, and how video games can break through into mainstream media.
PSXE: Video games are continually targeted for excessive violence. Many believe this overrides all potential good gaming has to offer. What would you say to that?
Bogost: "Games are a tool. As a medium, this machine has a lot of potential and it can be used for a variety of purposes. The violent stuff; well, I'd put that inside the movie spectaculars, like a Hollywood blockbuster usage of games. It's one way we use games. We create this fantasy world and test our inabilities. We want to feel powerful and we want to fantasize and live in a different place and time. Other mediums do this, too.
If that were the only way to use the moving image, that would be a shame. But it isn't the only way it's used. It's not the only way games are being used; if all you choose to see is violence, you're missing most of the picture."
PSXE: Gaming may be mainstream, but why isn't it viewed on the same level as music and movies? Why doesn't the industry get more mainstream exposure?
Bogost: "Even if gaming has fantasies about being as big as Hollywood, it doesn't have the same value. In movies, there's still a strong artistic creative compass that studios want to use to frame their work, so they put the people involved on The Tonight Show. And that's where people learn about the work.
The game industry hasn't done a good job of presenting their work as an alternative medium. Those of us who know what games can be talk, but they don't really talk to the world beyond their communities. Those outside that circle are allowed to draw their own conclusions. If you see a screenshot from Heavy Rain, you could conceivably think it's a game like Grand Theft Auto. A game like Flower is a little tougher to confuse, but it also isn't clear what it actually is. What does all this mean for the average ordinary person? We're all just sort of living in our own little world."
9/20/2011 Ben Dutka