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The game medium won't evolve with 'spray-and-pray' solutions
The game medium won't evolve with 'spray-and-pray' solutions
June 19, 2012 | By Staff

June 19, 2012 | By Staff

In a new feature, designer Keith Burgun expands on his ideas of game design theory, writing that game jams and bringing new voices into the medium may not actually do much to further the science of design.

"There's an increasing trend of 'creating more disposable games'... These things can be great for the creators themselves, in that they are great practice at the skill of 'game development', but they are not generally helpful for the rest of us," writes Burgun.

Meanwhile, attending a talk given by independent developer Anna Anthropy, he felt that her call to bring in more voices -- echoed by many -- does not actually help solve the problem of making better games.

"According to her, our problem is that there's too much 'inbreeding', too much of us talking to ourselves; we need the infusion of as many new creative minds as possible to help take us into the future," Burgun writes.

"While this is primarily a positive message, I have one problem with it. In my view, this equates to a 'spray-and-pray' solution; a 'do what we're already doing, but more!' solution."

"The problem is that we don't have guidance," he writes. In his new article, he furthers the discussion he launched in March about developing a functional theory of games, which will allow designers to "critique our systems, for the first time in video game history."

The full feature, in which he unpacks this idea and proposes solutions, is live now on Gamasutra.

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Joe Wreschnig
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No one said pray-and-spray will be a solution. Good strawman though.

Some people just can't tell the difference between that (hint: 1983, the mainstream video game industry today) and diverse expression (hint: what the talk this article completely misinterpreted was about).

Paul Laroquod
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No one external standard will ever be significantly adopted by freethinking artists, so it's a waste of time to try to get buy-in for a critical theory from the artists themselves -- just tell film or literary critics this plan and they will laugh in your face.

However, there is no doubt that the greatest art has been created by artists hewing to stringent internal standards of their own. What we need is not a critical framework but a *common belief in the notion that game art can and should prove out some sort of internal critical framework for looking at the world*. This is a belief that great artists in other mediums all seem to share, without ever subscribing to each other's critical frameworks, and that is what we should prescribe for game design. Not a single framework -- merely a belief in having a framework and hewing to it with the kind of rigorous discipline that produces truly distinctive work. So I agree that game jams are overrated because what we need is not more games but rather more ambitious games, with nobler goals -- exactly the kind of game you have to suffer for, and which one must create with care and deliberation rather than over a caffeine-infused weekend or two.