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Old 03-31-2010, 04:22 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Can video games be campy?

Jim Sterling gave Deadly Premonition a score of 10 points out of a possible 10, easily the highest score the game received among major gaming review sites. In his review, he makes it plain that this game does not deserve that score in any "objective" sense. The graphics are dated, the gameplay is limited, and its systems pay too much attention to irrelevant details. This is to say nothing of its absurd plot and characters. In comparison to almost any other game, Deadly Premonition is awful, but within the bounds of a certain kind of sensibility, that does not preclude it from also being good. Sontag identifies that sensibility as Camp, and it's an idea worth thinking about in connection to games.


I think it's reasonable to ask whether one can extend this sensibility to games, because appreciating that which is awful or excessive in games is, I feel, much more difficult than extending a similar appreciation to film or other visual arts. A bad game demands more of its player than bad films or bad sculptures do of their viewer, and gives far less. The bad game demands time, of course, but more importantly, it demands effort. A game must be played. Games that adopt bad interfaces, aren't sufficiently responsive, or require extreme skill might be considered "awful" in one way or another, but their experience will be reserved for an elite group of players who have the dexterity or sheer pig-headedness to force their way through.

Discount thoughts: Camp
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