Clint Hocking (Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, Far Cry 2), Creative Director at Ubisoft Montreal, thinks a lot about serious games — and taking games seriously. I got to see his lecture about the future of games and media convergence, “The Territory is Not the Map,” late last year, through which he displayed an expectant enthusiasm for what games can and will be doing. He seems confident that the medium has profound growth in its future. (I say “growth,” knowing it can mean a lot of things, and leave it there, vague, by design.) As the saying goes, you should be reading his blog.
His most recent blog entry is about didacticism in games, and after Jeff’s post on allegory in games, I thought you might want to see it:
Obviously we work in a professional climate where most people simply do not give a shit about ‘elevating the medium’ or about ‘making games that are more socially responsible’ or more specifically about integrating moral or ethical decisions into gameplay or game narrative in order to offer deeper messages to our audiences. That’s fine. If that is what you think, I encourage you to continue thinking that way. I too appreciate the thermobaric annihilation of my enemies-of-the-moment, the resultant unlocking of new perks, and the accompanying wry one-liner. You’re right – there is nothing at all wrong with games that offer only that. In fact, so many games fail to deliver on even that, that perhaps discussions about anything deeper are premature. (via Click Nothing)
What can games do to be more socially responsible? Can they be meaningful and mature without being bluntly didactic? I think the answer is “Yes,” but I’m not always sure about the answer to the more interesting and essential follow-up: “How?”
I strive to pose moral dilemmas to my players in tabletop RPGs, and I regard tabletop RPGs as a kind of live-fire brainstorming/prototyping for game design in other venues, but I’m not sure that I succeed at avoiding being didactic in actual play.
Anyway, I’m sort of missing Hocking’s point here, which is to back up and ask the question that comes before “How?”:
I want to be sure that in our focus on ‘how to implement socially responsible messages’ we are not, in fact, directly undercutting the reason we have considered these sorts of designs in the first place – which in my view is to elevate the medium to a higher level of maturity and sophistication. (via Click Nothing)
Go and read Hocking’s post.