Medium as Style

Hello people who make things:

I recently went to a food place where there was a painting of bamboo. The bamboo was fine, but what really struck me were the leaves: while clearly a leaf, each one was also clearly a single brush-stroke. You could say I was seeing stylized leaf, but I like to look at it a different way: It was a painting. The leaf was, in fact, a stylized brushstroke.

Of course, while I say that was illuminating, refreshing, and fascinating, I’m not attempting to devalue other paintings that take a more realistic style whereby the image is the focus rather than a harmonized element.

Well, maybe a little.

‘Retro’ and for example ‘8-bit’ games are attempting to emulate the ‘Medium as Style’ perpetrated by games of ye olde times where the only way to make something look great was to make it work with the technology available. Hats and moustaches easier than head-hair and noses. We all know the Mario story there, right?

Various explosions of technology–and the resulting obsession with it–in so many areas has done a number on the way a lot of games develop. Here I’ll retread well-tread ground:

Games controlled by motion are, well, not great. Kinect suffers lag (I wonder if there’s anyone who hasn’t felt that lag?) and in general they’re only great for broad motions. The quality of control has to strike a balance: Too precise, and the lag becomes painfully clear. Too loose, and the motion controls become… a useless gimmick.

Some games look great; that’s fine. A lot of games that are beautiful seem reliant on their beautiful, tech demo-esque foundation. With all our dynamic lighting and HDR and who gives a shit, I think a lot of people have forgotten just how much control we have over the way our games look. I feel like we–game makers and game enthusiasts et cetera–are suffering for it.

Have I made a blog post exactly like this before? ‘Embrace your medium’ or something along those lines? Probably. Oh well.

Keep on makin’ and playin’ and… I dunno, other stuff.


About Droqen

Droqen is a game designer/developer/creator/etc. from Toronto, Ontario. View all posts by Droqen

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