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The Art of Computer Game Design
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In this chapter I have described a number of design methods and ideals that I have used in developing several games. Methods and ideals should not be used in grab bag fashion, for taken together they constitute the elusive element we call "technique". Technique is part of an artist s signature, as important as theme. When we listen to Beethoven s majestic Fifth Symphony, or the rapturous Sixth, or the ecstatic Ninth, we recognize in all the identifying stamp of Beethoven s masterful technique. If you would be a compute game designer, you must establish and develop your own technique.
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The Art of Computer Game Design
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CHAPTER SEVEN The Future of Computer Games
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n this book, I have explored computer games from a number of angles. I have presented my claim that computer games constitute an as-yet untapped art form. Implicit in this claim is the hope that this art form will someday be tapped. Unfortunately, history bears out the fears
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of cynics more often than the hopes of dreamers. I must therefore separate hopes from predictions. Where are computer games going How will they change in the years to come Will we see
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them emerge as a true art form There are a number of divergent trends apparent now; analysis of them is complicated by conflicting interpretations of the current state of computer game design. I shall begin by addressing the most commonly cited arguments, and proceed to the framework I prefer.
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The first and most important question concerns the very survival of the computer games industry. One school of thought maintains that computer games are merely a fad, a temporary infatuation that will quickly pass when their novelty value is exhausted. Proponents of this view compare the computer game to other fads that swept into society with equal force. They maintain that computer games lack sufficient fundamental appeal to insure any staying power. Eventually, these people say, computer games will go the way of the hula hoop. This line of thought is breezily rejected by all members of the industry, but I fear that the confidence people express is little more than the Titanic syndrome---the confidence that arises from mere size. They tend to blindly extrapolate into the future the astounding growth rates we have experienced in the past. It is certainly hard to give credence to doomsayers when the curve of growth slopes upward so steeply. However, few industry optimists can provide justification for their extrapolations. Just because the industry doubled in 1982 does not mean that it will double in 1983 or 1984. Indeed, it cannot continue to annually double much longer; if it did, only eleven years time would be needed for Atari alone to engulf the entire Gross National Product like some monstrous PAC-MAN. Furthermore, size alone generates negative forces that will certainly reduce the growth rate. In the simple days of the seventies, when computer games were counted by the thousands rather than the millions, nobody much cared about their effects because they were a minor component of our society. But now, they are everywhere. They are such a powerful force that they are affecting society in such a way as to generate negative feedback. We now have a backlash developing against computer games, with ordinances against arcades popping up all over the country. Parents are beginning to restrict their children s access to the games. Editorialists warn against the dire effects of playing the games. Already several preliminary studies have been undertaken to determine the
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The Art of Computer Game Design
effects of computer games on children; so far, the as-yet speculative results have been mildly favorable, but the day will certainly come when the crap game we call research comes up snakeyes, and a blockbuster report is issued demonstrating that computer games cause cancer in laboratory rats. Bigger critters than Atari have bitten the dust; bigger industries than ours have shriveled and died. Size and past success are no guarantee of permanence. We need substantive reasons for confidence in the future rather than simple extrapolations of past history. I am convinced that substantive reasons for optimism exist; the full presentation of my reasoning will come later in this chapter. For now let me say that computer games satisfy a fundamental desire for active recreation, and as such are assured of a bright future.
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