Mario, Our Muse


"Imagine that all you knew about movies was gleaned through observing the audience in a theater—but that you had never watched a film. You would conclude that movies induce lethargy and junk-food binges. That may be true, but you're missing the big picture."

That's Sims creator Will Wright sticking up for video-game culture. Here's some more from the same essay:

As computer graphics advanced, game designers showed some Hollywood envy: They added elaborate cutscenes, epic plots, and, of course, increasingly detailed graphics. They bought into the idea that world building and storytelling are best left to professionals, and they pushed out the player. But in their rapture over computer processing, games designers forgot that there's a second processor at work: the player's imagination.

Now, rather than go Hollywood, some game designers are deploying that second processor to break down the wall between producers and consumers. By moving away from the idea that media is something developed by the few (movie and TV studios, book publishers, game companies) and consumed in a one-size-fits-all form, we open up a world of possibilities. Instead of leaving player creativity at the door, we are inviting it back to help build, design, and populate our digital worlds.

And our physical worlds too, as long as the bomb squad doesn't spoil the fun.

Elsewhere in Reason: Jacob Sullum looks at the latest threat to game designers' free speech here. Kevin Parker explores the politics of gameplay here. I look at a more Hobbesian game landscape here, I consider the blurry line between games and reality here, and I compare the early days of video games and the early days of movies here.

Elsewhere not in Reason: Henry Jenkins' classic essay, "Games, the New Lively Art."