Is it barbaric to design videogames after
© 2000 Gonzalo Frasca (email@example.com)
Reproduction forbidden without written authorization from the autor.
Originally published in the Cybertext Yearbook 2000.
According to Robert Coover, if you are looking for "serious" hypertext
you should visit Eastgate.com. While, of course, "seriousness" is hard to
define, we can at least imagine what we are not going to find in these
texts. We are not probably going to find princesses in distress, trolls and
space ships with big laser guns.
So, where should we go if we are looking for "serious" computer games?
As far as we know, nowhere. The reason is simple: there is an absolute
lack of "seriousness" in the computer game industry. Currently,
videogames are closer to Tolkien than to Chekhov; they show more
influence from George Lucas rather than from François Truffaut.
The reasons are probably mainly economical. The industry targets male
teenagers and children and everybody else either adapts to that content
or looks for another form of entertainment.
However, we do not believe that the current lack of mature, intellectual
content is just due to marketing reasons. As we are going to explore in
this paper, current computer game design conventions have structural
characteristics that prevent them to deal with "serious" content. We will
also suggest different strategies for future designers in order to
overcome some of these problematic issues.
For the sake of our exposition, we will use the Holocaust as an example
of "serious" topic, because it is usually treated with a mature approach,
even if crafting a comedy, as Roberto Benigni recently did in his film
"Life is Beautiful".
In addition to this, we do not want to fall into the discussion of why
some approaches to any topic may be more "serious" than others. We
will just keep the rather naive definition of "seriousness" that Eastgate
uses to advertise their products.
We also feel the need to point out