Tuesday, February 10


Pat Baer has an interesting post about the new reality tv show WCG Ultimate Gamer.

Pat makes the point that it upsets him that video gaming isn't appreciated for being good enough by itself, that they are forced to also to do things in the "real world" (play a real guitar after playing Rock Band, drive a car on a stunt course, etc.).

I'd argue that competitive gaming is pretty damn dull on tv. Oh, I've been waiting for someone to do it right, but seeing people sit on a couch and play is, well, boring. And it is that image that is more harmful. "Gamers can do nothing BUT sit and play games." That is the joke. Watching videogames being played is snoresville for most of the population, but more and more that is changing.  And that is the key.  To keep presenting the old images ignores the new place gaming is taking.

There is a rich a deep gaming culture that does get ignored (or at least mocked).   I am not sure that a competitive gaming show needs to pay honor to that part of the culture.

The other thing is that this is a reality show, not actual competitive gaming.  Hell's Kitchen or even Iron Chef are not about (at least fully) cooking.  It is about entertainment.  Project Runway is not about fashion.  But these shows do make those world seem interesting and exciting, something gaming could use.

The fact that gaming is given the "reality show" treatment is a good sign to me.  It is not being presented as a joke here.  They could easily have gone The Beauty & The Geek route.  "How many Hot Pockets can you eat?"  "Socialize at a fancy dress ball."  I think that is a good step.

I'm not really advocating this show.  It does heighten the weird sci-fi/tech trappings of gaming (the white room).  And god knows playing a guitar after playing Rock Band is ridiculous (drums would have been a more interesting challenge).  I have a bigger problem with how they dress some of the contestants (school girl's uniform? sideways baseball cap?).

All of this goes to my feeling that videogaming is taking baby steps into being an appreciated art form.  My argument that the Grand Theft Autos of the world are the equivalent of EC comics in the 50s and that flash gaming is like the underground comics of the late 60s and 70s is all part of this.

Bits and pieces.  Bits and pieces.