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Letters To The Editor: The Highbrow Académie

Letters To The Editor: The Highbrow Académie

October 3, 2006 | By Brandon Boyer

October 3, 2006 | By Brandon Boyer
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Gamasutra has recently had further interesting feedback to some of our notable features and opinion pieces, as collected through our Letters to the Editor, so here's the newest weekly roundup, with some of the reactions you might have missed. Click through on each link (free reg. req.) for the full Letter.

The conversation between Lionhead and Climax game design veteran Tadhg Kelly, author of the original letter on game worlds attracting players versus game characters, and designer Ernest Adams once again continued, this time with Adams offering his latest reaction:

"Good design, he tells us, is about understanding what doesn't work and the limitations of the form. At best, I'd say that's safe, practical, guaranteed-to-make Christmas design: stodgy, but comfortingly predictable. Mr. Kelly would have fit right in at the Académie des Beaux-Arts when it was refusing to exhibit the early Impressionists. The Académie knew that experimental junk from Manet, Whistler, and Pissarro would never go anywhere.

Finally he asserts that one of the easiest and laziest things for designers to do is reach for the stars. This baffles me. Half-Life, Everquest, and yes, Façade all reached for the stars in their different domains, but by no definition I'm familiar with could the staggering amount of work that it took to make them be considered "easy" and "lazy."

But it was Adams' own latest Gamasutra feature on "Highbrow Games" that once again brought in the most feedback.

Most of the responses seemed to generally agree with Adams that there is clearly a need for more appreciation for 'highbrow games,' if not simply more games themselves.

These include nominations for various games not covered, like Evan Rodwell's mention of Ultima IV, saying "Richard Garriot is our Ismail Merchant," Christopher Dunn's consideration of Neverwinter Nights and Spore, Jason Henriksen on more obscure titles like The Vortex and The Sounding, and Sinan Vural's tip of the hat to the collected works of Introversion, especially their latest, DEFCON.

Brenda Bailey brought her own perspective and asked Adams if gaming might be devoid of highbrow because it's so relatively devoid of women:

"I am an unusual gamer in many ways - I am almost 40, I am female, and I’m very well educated. I find working in this industry challenging at times - the "low brow" nature of tits and ass, shoot em up B.S., etc. I also work with amazing, talented people whose creativity inspires me on a daily basis, so it's a trade off. But here is the point I want you to consider - Is there a gender aspect to your exploration of high brow and its gap in gaming? Can you have a high brow culture that is so devoid of women? You examples are all areas where women have traditionally been huge contributors, sometimes secretly due to societal restrictions. Literature, Art, Dance, Film, all of these are areas where female creative genius has blossomed. Not so in gaming. I'd love to hear your thoughts and exploration of this component of the issue."

For more reactions to Adams and other recent columns, including Andrew Pellerano's response to our recent feature on disabilities and gaming by noting that it neglected "one type of disability, left handedness," visit our letters page.

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