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Old 04-12-2010, 07:30 PM   #1 (permalink)
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The Word, Gaming’s Second-Class Citizen

So let’s talk about the role of words and language within videogames, because that’s what reading the post so many times got me thinking about. And before I start, I’ll stress that I don’t feel the article implies that designers should abandon language within gaming, it simply got me thinking about the way language has been treated within gaming – which to date is very poorly and owing almost entirely to the way the industry has treated language as a tool rather than an additional artistic form of expression.

“…our Princess is in another castle!”

That’s the bit of Super Mario Bros. that relies on the written word to express something otherwise inexpressible – I mean what was an 8-bit Toadstool going to do otherwise, shrug at Mario and point to a door? Without this bit of language, the game would come across as an endless circular hell with no direction – no matter what anyone tells you, this is how the idea that there is a narrative is strengthened and enforced and without it, you’re playing an Atari game.

And as much as minimal language gives Super Mario Bros. less talk and more rock, it also represents the earliest intentions of game designers with respect to language – which is to see the role of it confined to the expression of directions and ideas that lacked an easily recognizable visual substitute capable of conveying the idea as easily – and EASILY is a big word here, because there are times where words are used simply because it is easier.

BUT, the bigger point is that language has been enslaved by the gaming industry as a tool toward this end. And for a medium that bears the burden of being the best of all our future creative endeavors, it’s a severe oversight, because that one medium to rule them all draws power for that bold statement to be true because it can draw all other forms of art and expression into itself – the audio, the video, the horizontal and the vertical and never forgetting the physical and tactile – but not at the expense of the written and the verbal, which have never been recognized as an art form by the industry proper.

Full article here:
The Word, Gaming’s Second-Class Citizen | Gamesugar.net
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