Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

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Re: Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby AnotherOne20150728 » Sun May 30, 2010 12:44 am UTC

You, sir, name? wrote:
SexyTalon wrote:
You, sir, name? wrote:Video Games are a waste of your time if you are playing video games instead of doing something more worthwhile.
Such as.. Heart surgery? Donating time at the homeless shelter? Solving World Hunger?

You'll need to be more specific.


Not really. What one finds worthwhile is, in the end, a personal decision. If your aim is to live a hedonistic life, and you enjoy playing video games, then it is time well spent. If your aim is to be a doctor and you have exams in 3 days that you need to study for, playing video games is a waste of time.


I think you may be onto something there.

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Re: Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby Magnanimous » Sun May 30, 2010 3:46 am UTC

I vote that we make this a can-video-games-have-the-same-intellectual-merit-as-traditional-art-forms thread.

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Re: Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby smw543 » Sun May 30, 2010 8:34 am UTC

You, sir, name? wrote:Video Games are a waste of your time if you are playing video games instead of doing something more worthwhile.

I nominate YSN for president of the tautology club.

Magnanimous wrote:I vote that we make this a can-video-games-have-the-same-intellectual-merit-as-traditional-art-forms thread.

I think it was already headed in that direction. Although I think that's only part of the answer to the OP's question; other factors like cognitive benefits are relevant in arguing for the merit of video games.
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Re: Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby Gelsamel » Sun May 30, 2010 10:06 am UTC

The 'theorycrafting', experiment, simulation and optimisation skills that WoW and EVE online and many RPGs have taught me... the strategy, tactics and prediction ability that Pokemon has taught me, the ability to follow orders and strategies precisely while under pressure that WoW has taught me... resource management and multitasking skills that RTSes have taught me... I guess those are all useless I guess...

As far as novels vs. games as concerned... You're playing the wrong video games if you've never played a video game with a great story. Take a look at Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni, or even something like Tales of Vesperia. Phoenix Wright is an exellect deconstruction of the Japanese legal system while having perhaps the best localisation of any Japanese jame ever. Mass Effect 1 had a great story too.

I agree that movies are a bit too short to tell a good story (although they can if really really well written), but that is why I prefer series over movies.
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Re: Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby You, sir, name? » Sun May 30, 2010 10:12 am UTC

smw543 wrote:
You, sir, name? wrote:Video Games are a waste of your time if you are playing video games instead of doing something more worthwhile.

I nominate YSN for president of the tautology club.


In this case, any further answer will depend on personal goals and ideals, and thus become needlessly complex if it's to be accurately.
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Re: Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby KrazyerKate » Mon May 31, 2010 3:00 am UTC

Magnanimous wrote:I vote that we make this a can-video-games-have-the-same-intellectual-merit-as-traditional-art-forms thread.


can they? absolutely. do they? no. Compared to the cinematic, literary, and musical genius out there, video games are pretty lame. TF2 is pretty impressive from a design standpoint, and Braid had a convincing way of intertwining 'story' with gameplay, but other than that most video games attempts at "art" never get further than "trying to copy movies".

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Re: Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby infernovia » Mon May 31, 2010 4:45 am UTC

In this case, any further answer will depend on personal goals and ideals, and thus become needlessly complex if it's to be accurately.

Yup, pretty much it.

Gelsamel, can you honestly tell me that any story in a video game can match up to something like Crime and Punishment? Btw, the last few stories that did interest me (GTA 4 is an example), I was turned off by its lack of any challenge. Same goes for most JRPGs. Even if it did have a great story, I would have to deal with tediousness of the battle or the mundane game design, which waters it down. Now, to be fair, I have not played the games you mentioned, so that might not be the case for those JRPG or puzzle genres.

And lol at TF2 and Braid being used as the high-point for video games.

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Re: Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby Gelsamel » Mon May 31, 2010 5:46 am UTC

infernovia wrote:Gelsamel, can you honestly tell me that any story in a video game can match up to something like Crime and Punishment?


Not 'any' story. But some. I'm not sure what fraction of games have shitty stories vs books which shitty stories but I know there are a lot of both. But some video games, not all, have great stories.


Same goes for most JRPGs. Even if it did have a great story, I would have to deal with tediousness of the battle or the mundane game design, which waters it down. Now, to be fair, I have not played the games you mentioned, so that might not be the case for those JRPG or puzzle genres.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gIlqy8a0txo - Tales of Vesperia

In terms of games as art (as opposed to games as stories) you should take a look at Touhou (Unfortunately the person replaces the original music, which is really awesome and plays it in the wrong resolution. The 2nd remix is great though and make sure to keep watching for the pacifist run at the end which really showcases the artistic qualities of the game.)
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Re: Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby Magnanimous » Mon May 31, 2010 5:59 am UTC

Hey, Braid is serious business.

First off, video games have only been taken seriously for, what, almost twenty years? Literature is older than dirt, and movies also have had a definite head-start; it's going to take a while for video games to fully catch up culture-wise. Give it time. The past decade started to show that now that games have modern technologies, wide audiences, and people working on them full-time, they can actually be really good.

Just so we can get off of Team Fortress, I'll list some of the plot-tastic games I've played: Bioshock 1 & 2, Metal Gear Solid, Baldur's Gate 2, Call of Cthulhu: DCotE, Fatal Frame 1 & 2, Ico & Shadow of the Colossus, Half-Life(though it could have been better, imo), Don't Look Back, Heavy Rain, Silent Hill 2/3, and Final Fantasy 6 (or 3 outside of Japan). Also, some I haven't played but have heard great things about: Beyond Good and Evil, KOTOR, Psychonauts, Deus Ex, Fallout, and System Shock. Not all of these can beat Dostoevsky, but they definitely have a lot of merit.

(Can Dwarf Fortress count too? We also have to factor in RP games where you essentially make your own plot...)

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Re: Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby SecondTalon » Mon May 31, 2010 6:33 am UTC

infernovia wrote:And lol at TF2 and Braid being used as the high-point for video games.
This.

This (among many, many other things) is why I find your participation here to be a complete pain in the ass.

You laugh at the notion of Team Fortress 2 or Braid being used as some sort of high point or measuring bar for video games. Fine. Why?

Now, here's the other reason -

Gelsamel, can you honestly tell me that any story in a video game can match up to something like Crime and Punishment? Btw, the last few stories that did interest me (GTA 4 is an example), I was turned off by its lack of any challenge. Same goes for most JRPGs. Even if it did have a great story, I would have to deal with tediousness of the battle or the mundane game design, which waters it down. Now, to be fair, I have not played the games you mentioned, so that might not be the case for those JRPG or puzzle genres.
"Hi, I've not seen the movies or read the books you're talking about, but I'm going to now argue about how all books and movies are pointless wastes of space with no artistic merit or redeeming features"

If you've only read shitty Fantasy and Sci-Fi and are using those as ammunition against the written word, I'm sure you understand where the problem lies - not only are there other genres that you've not experienced that you aren't even discussing, but there's alternatives that you're more familiar with in which the content actually doesn't suck. Now, sure, you don't have to watch every - single - movie dealing with 1800s London to determine that you cannot stand movies set in 1800s London, but one would expect that you'd at least give a couple a good try.

Now, let me even address something you mentioned earlier -
I think if you compared the story of a videogame to the story of a novel (obviously a good video game compared to a good novel), the video game would lose, or should lose. Because the story is not the primary part of the game, its the playing.
Early Television and Movies sucked because they were radio programs in which you finally got to see the people wandering around. Early talking movies sucked because - again - it was the same techniques of the silent film only with sound, leading things to be overly dramatic for no good reason. Early comics were books with pictures. Ignoring the fact that the Computer Game is, so far, a constantly evolving medium in which new styles are continually explored, you're still looking at the infancy of it.

Shitty games are ones with a deep, involving, complex story that you cannot deviate from at all - a goddamn book. If you wanted a book, you'd just read. Good games are ones in which the story framework is laid out, but the choices made, the methods used, the manner in which the main character(s) proceed is decided by the player - because you're playing a damned game. As I rambled about elsewhere as to why Half-Life would be a shitty game, My Gordon didn't give a fuck about Barney or Alex (at least until she stopped being worthless), wished Dog would hang out more, and didn't even bother to shoot at most things with the gun on the car because it was just easier to keep going at TOPSPEED! My Gordon stuck to the shadows, and the whole experience was of an individual who is just so goddamn tired of everyone relying on him when all he wants is to get something to eat and take a damn nap for twenty minutes. Someone else's story is of a sarcastic asshole (see: That youtube video in which someone runs a constant commentary of Gordon's thoughts as he plays through Half-Life 1). A good game has the framework of a story in place but lets the player set all of the details. A good video game is steadily approaching a good table top roleplaying game : the GM/Programmers have a story in mind and a framework in place, but are able to adapt and change on the fly as you, the player, make decisions. A good game is more than an interactive film.

So comparing a video game to a book or a movie is a shitty comparison. You might as well compare movies to albums, or books to paintings. They're too different in their goal - the book and movie invite you to sit down, shut up, and enjoy the world exactly as the author envisioned it. A good game invites you to poke at the corners and see what's behind that door no one's really paid much attention to. If you want to compare a game to something, compare it to a roleplaying game.

... which is going to be hard. Given the way those are run, we won't have a frame of reference. And they tend to make pretty shitty stories too. (This one time, at the Evil Dungeon, I stuck a dagger in an orc for 44 damage! | This one time, in Rapture, I used a lightning shotgun on a splicer!) Like giving a running commentary of your emotional state as you watched a movie.

Have you even seen the last 20 videogame movies?
Sure. And of those 20, I'd say 19 of them failed to capture the spirit of the game they're representing. Again, you're looking at the issue of the protagonist on the silver screen not doing the shit you, the gamer, did. Also, if you're talking about Uwe Boll movies in a serious attempt to refute .. anything beyond someone insisting that shitty movies are no longer being made.... then we're done here. There's no reason to continue speaking to you, as you're clearly insane.
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Re: Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby infernovia » Mon May 31, 2010 7:21 am UTC

That Tales of Vesperia video is... well lets say if thats your standard for video games beating stories, I don't wanna see the stuff you read/watch. I mean, lets compare it to the complexity of Arjun's decision to fight in Mahabharata, or the scene between Svidrigailov and Avdotya... its not really close. Plus there is a whole level of disconnect, between the action and the story, it doesn't hit you in a very neat way at all. You are getting a bad guy vs. friends speech while numbers are flying everywhere, you are switching menus, and remapping attacks and pausing the whole scene.

Magnanimous wrote:Hey, Braid is serious business.

Videogames have been serious business since Spacewar! was released in 1960s.

Bioshock is mediocre, could be considered good among video games, but its not really stellar plot-telling. We are talking about a format where Half-life's story blew people's minds, so we aren't talking about the same scope as literature.

Ico and Shadow of Colossus were both very simple stories (boy and girl). I liked the presentation as they were very well tied together, but they overwhelmingly were in the simple side for practically everything otherwise (especially the mechanics). The plot was simple in both of these too.

Metal Gear Solid is amusing. Clever and funny and technical, but it was obviously made to not make sense or analyzed.

Don't look back is a bad game. Lets not bring up these simple old wive's morals please. Its a bit better than ImmorTALL or w/e, but even pong could beat that.

I am glad you pulled up Baldur's Gate. Otherwise I would have needed to call bull for ignoring all the western developer's efforts which pretty much demolishes most other works in this format. Planescape: Torment? Regardless, even in this scenario it is not close. Deus Ex is interesting, its good, but in terms of plotlines, it might as well be as silly as the matrix, if not sillier. I actually really liked the story in both Torment and Deus Ex, but Deus Ex I liked because of the level of interaction it gave me along with the well made cyperpunk background. Torment just had really mapped out choices, which was enjoyable.

Call of Duty 4 can beat most of the indie games you listed. And that game isn't exactly the king of complex overarching plot.

Magnanimous wrote:None of these can beat Dostoevsky, but they definitely have a lot of merit.

Corrected.

SecondTalon wrote:You laugh at the notion of Team Fortress 2 or Braid being used as some sort of high point or measuring bar for video games. Fine. Why?

Because what is it exactly the high point of? Braid had an interesting little puzzle trick in a field already filled with great puzzle solving games. TF2 is pretty good fun, but not in the same sense that CS 1.6, Quake, Unreal Tournament were. Putting TF2 and Braid games instead of using Planescape: Torment, Guilty Gear:XX, Civilization, Half life, DoTA? It was just a way to feel quasi-intellectual.

If you've only read shitty Fantasy and Sci-Fi and are using those as ammunition against the written word, I'm sure you understand where the problem lies - not only are there other genres that you've not experienced that you aren't even discussing, but there's alternatives that you're more familiar with in which the content actually doesn't suck. Now, sure, you don't have to watch every - single - movie dealing with 1800s London to determine that you cannot stand movies set in 1800s London, but one would expect that you'd at least give a couple a good try.

Good thing Tales of Vesperia totally wasn't what I expected after playing Tales of Symphonia. Oh wait.

I already explained this before, you aren't going to expect Avatar: The Video Game to beat Avatar: The Movie in a head to head graphics fight. And you aren't going to expect a frame from Avatar: The Movie to beat the promotional art of Avatar. Its not IMPOSSIBLE, its just that we haven't even begun coming close to their respective fields yet.

Now the mystery one, I am really unsure about. I still think its story is going to be weaker, but I think the mystery game would take a huge step up. I am not even sure how to review these types of book, so I can't comment on it.

So comparing a video game to a book or a movie is a shitty comparison. You might as well compare movies to albums, or books to paintings. They're too different in their goal - the book and movie invite you to sit down, shut up, and enjoy the world exactly as the author envisioned it. A good game invites you to poke at the corners and see what's behind that door no one's really paid much attention to. If you want to compare a game to something, compare it to a roleplaying game.

Didn't you yell at me before about how comparing books to games isn't stupid? lol.

Anyway, you are telling me exactly what I am telling the English Major over there and what I have already said before. Yeah, they have different functions and focus, this is exactly why if you use story like how it was prescribed, games would lose. Regardless, when we ignore the bad comparisons, the story that ties Half life together is much less complex than the great works out there, but maybe we will finally get some adventure games that will be complex in this regard to be finally worth talking about. Right now? Its not there yet.

But it doesn't matter atm. Because we will give up complexity in that end to have more interesting way of interacting with our environment. And this doesn't make us lame or dumb, its the reason we play Videogames. So I agree with you, I am disagreeing with the position that videogame plots are even close to beating stories. Because its not. This is why we don't judge Half life like a story, because of how bad it would be as you pointed out. It is, however, a very nice video game.Btw, most video games are pretty bad role-playing games, considering how linear they are.

But why does this need to be the thing that is worthwhile and makes games respectable? We have already made so much progress in the field of Fighting games, Shooting, RTSes etc and we are coming closer to making great games that compare to the level of complexity of Chess and Go (with a handful of setbacks recently). And this isn't enough because we don't have English Majors filling our games with misdirected philosophy and prose?

Really?

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Re: Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby Gelsamel » Mon May 31, 2010 8:06 am UTC

infernovia wrote:That Tales of Vesperia video is... well lets say if thats your standard for video games beating stories, I don't wanna see the stuff you read/watch.


That is my standard for good game play. My link was in reponse to the idea that JRPGs with good stories had mundane or tedious gameplay so I linked a video to show the gameplay was not tedious or mundane at all.

If you want to see what Tales of Vesperia's story is like then you'd have to play the thing all the way through... the tiny little mid-battle quote is hardly enough to base an opinion of the story off.
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Re: Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby smw543 » Mon May 31, 2010 9:52 am UTC

infernovia wrote:But why does this need to be the thing that is worthwhile and makes games respectable? We have already made so much progress in the field of Fighting games, Shooting, RTSes etc and we are coming closer to making great games that compare to the level of complexity of Chess and Go (with a handful of setbacks recently). And this isn't enough because we don't have English Majors filling our games with misdirected philosophy and prose?

Nobody said that a game without a strong story or good visuals is necessarily bad, only that having those can be good. But you are actually resistant to art in video games. You're worse than a troll—you're a Philistine.

And you can stop with the passive-aggressive bullshit, because the prospect of discussing anything with you is so unappealing that I'm leaving this thread (I guess that means you win? :roll: ).
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Re: Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby KrazyerKate » Mon May 31, 2010 12:57 pm UTC

smw543 wrote:
infernovia wrote:But why does this need to be the thing that is worthwhile and makes games respectable? We have already made so much progress in the field of Fighting games, Shooting, RTSes etc and we are coming closer to making great games that compare to the level of complexity of Chess and Go (with a handful of setbacks recently). And this isn't enough because we don't have English Majors filling our games with misdirected philosophy and prose?

Nobody said that a game without a strong story or good visuals is necessarily bad, only that having those can be good. But you are actually resistant to art in video games. You're worse than a troll—you're a Philistine.


Actually, I think this brings up a good point though. I really think developers should be working on developing new and interesting gameplay instead of creating 'atmosphere' and 'plot'. The most recent example of this was Just Cause 2, where for some reason there are characters and dialogue. I bought the game for sandbox gameplay, not because I cared at all about the characters.

Magnanimous wrote:Just so we can get off of Team Fortress, I'll list some of the plot-tastic games I've played: Bioshock 1 & 2, Metal Gear Solid, Baldur's Gate 2, Call of Cthulhu: DCotE, Fatal Frame 1 & 2, Ico & Shadow of the Colossus, Half-Life(though it could have been better, imo), Don't Look Back, Heavy Rain, Silent Hill 2/3, and Final Fantasy 6 (or 3 outside of Japan). Also, some I haven't played but have heard great things about: Beyond Good and Evil, KOTOR, Psychonauts, Deus Ex, Fallout, and System Shock. Not all of these can beat Dostoevsky, but they definitely have a lot of merit.

(Can Dwarf Fortress count too? We also have to factor in RP games where you essentially make your own plot...)


I played Bioshock, Psychonauts, Half-Life, and KOTOR, and the only one I was able to finish was Half-Life. It wasn't for the storyline though, it was because it kept throwing new, interesting challenges at me. Bioshock, Psychonauts, and KOTOR all had mediocre gameplay with superb (by video game standards, which are pretty low) storytelling. I agree that creating a sense of attachment to a game is important, but it should never ever trump gameplay.

Am I allowed to reference Portal, or do we just kind of assume that that game was awesome and not discuss it further?

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Re: Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby WarDaft » Mon May 31, 2010 1:43 pm UTC

Oh dear, it's rolled around to video games and art.

All I'll say on that is do video games even need to be art? They can both force you to think differently and entertain you without the slightest hint of story or character(s). It's just more common for them to use story because it's easier.
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Re: Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby Gelsamel » Mon May 31, 2010 2:49 pm UTC

WarDaft wrote:Oh dear, it's rolled around to video games and art.

All I'll say on that is do video games even need to be art? They can both force you to think differently and entertain you without the slightest hint of story or character(s). It's just more common for them to use story because it's easier.


They absolutely don't need to be, but they can be if they put effort into it.
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Re: Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby infernovia » Mon May 31, 2010 4:06 pm UTC

smw123 wrote:Nobody said that a game without a strong story or good visuals is necessarily bad, only that having those can be good. But you are actually resistant to art in video games.

Proof that he hasn't understood what I have said. Who is disagreeing with the fact that good visuals and interesting plotlines would be good? I like my games to look pretty, thats for sure. But are the plotlines interesting enough to say that Pac-Man is coming close to beat Moby Dick? Maybe, if Moby Dick is horrible. But a classic? Ridiculous.

And he calls me passive aggressive when he is misinterpreting everything I said. Good games are already art. Civilization, Half-life, Quake, Street Fighter: Turbo. All I am doing is stopping people from hyping up some (worse than) mediocre story like Heavy Rain to ridiculous proportion. And he dares call me a Philistine. I, who love literature and games so much to be completely truthful to both.

To Gelsamel, sorry for misinterpreting your intentions. In anycase, thats the problem I have with the storylines, its way too hamfisted. And judging from previous iterations in the series, it doesn't get good (and if it does, its way after I got bored). I did enjoy the 2D Tales games though, but I am glad I finally started playing the Western ones. I love the great style of the Japanese, but ignoring the Western ones was a big mistake on my part and my tastes have really changed after playing the greats from that side.

Portal is a pretty nice too.
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Re: Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby Weeks » Mon May 31, 2010 5:52 pm UTC

infernovia wrote:Portal is a pretty nice too.
A pretty nice what?
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Re: Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby Jesse » Mon May 31, 2010 6:18 pm UTC

You can and you can't compare games to books. You can compare them in terms of storytelling, in which case games have the advantage (in terms of keeping attention) of being interactive, which creates a greater sense of immersion, but to compare them as stories is fairly pointless as a book's only entertainment facet is the story it contains, while a game also has to balance things like gameplay, and graphics.

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Re: Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby infernovia » Mon May 31, 2010 6:38 pm UTC

Thank you very much, hopefully thats clear to the "stories makes video games have art" guys over there.

Btw, interaction is the very opposite of stories (but not storytelling). Videogames, however, are better at escapism than stories. This distinction is important.

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Re: Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby Accountant13B » Mon May 31, 2010 7:36 pm UTC

infernovia wrote:Thank you very much, hopefully thats clear to the "stories makes video games have art" guys over there.

Btw, interaction is the very opposite of stories (but not storytelling). Videogames, however, are better at escapism than stories. This distinction is important.


Damn good point. You know, I think people would like you more if you weren't so caustic. :|
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Re: Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby General_Norris » Mon May 31, 2010 8:42 pm UTC

KrazyerKate wrote:can they? absolutely. do they? no. Compared to the cinematic, literary, and musical genius out there, video games are pretty lame. TF2 is pretty impressive from a design standpoint, and Braid had a convincing way of intertwining 'story' with gameplay, but other than that most video games attempts at "art" never get further than "trying to copy movies".

They are always art. However it tends to suck. Hanna Montana is art, as cliché and banal it is. A computer is still a computer, no matter how slow it is. A bad joke is still a joke.

infernopia wrote:TF2 is pretty good fun, but not in the same sense that CS 1.6, Quake, Unreal Tournament were.


TF2 gameplay is completely different from Quake, CS or Unreal Tournament. Is "Don Quixote" better or worse than "Hamlet"? Who knows! They are so different you cant' compare them.

Try not to turn this into a bunnyhopping yes or not debate :lol:

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Re: Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby infernovia » Mon May 31, 2010 8:57 pm UTC

The definition of art is being changed btw. The art that most people talk about when they say "art" is "masterpiece." The art you are talking about is a more generalized application of skill/categorical work, like paintings for example.

TF2 is a team based vs. FPS. It seems worthwhile to compare it to Counter Strike 1.6, Halo, the original Team Fortress (and TFC), and UT (depends on the format I guess). And although a little bit trickier, Quake works too, even if it is more geared towards 1v1. So is Richard III better than Hamlet?

Unless I am missing something, TF2 doesn't seem to be significantly different than the previously mentioned games. I will be the first to tell you that my experience with FPSes are severely limited and that I haven't kept up with TF2 much at all. I just hear the one or two stupid things that valve tends to pull with this game, but I don't see how you can't compare the two.

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Re: Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby General_Norris » Mon May 31, 2010 9:08 pm UTC

infernovia wrote:The definition of art is being changed btw. The art that most people talk about when they say "art" is "masterpiece." The art you are talking about is a more generalized application of skill/categorical work, like paintings for example.


The definition I take is the one that appears in the dictionary and it has not changed for very long. The "art" most people talk about makes no sense because, by their definition Kandinsky never made a single work of art.

TF2 is a team based vs. FPS. It seems worthwhile to compare it to Counter Strike 1.6, Halo, the original Team Fortress (and TFC), and UT (depends on the format I guess). And although a little bit trickier, Quake works too, even if it is more geared towards 1v1. So is Richard III better than Hamlet?

Unless I am missing something, TF2 doesn't seem to be significantly different than the previously mentioned games. I will be the first to tell you that my experience with FPSes are severely limited and that I haven't kept up with TF2 much at all. I just hear the one or two stupid things that valve tends to pull with this game, but I don't see how you can't compare the two.


The difference is huge. You don't seem to have almost any experience on those games so you will need to take my word because I don't want to clutter this thread with the differences =/

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Re: Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby infernovia » Mon May 31, 2010 9:12 pm UTC

Ok, its just that TF2 seems very good as a pub game, but not as a competitive game. Pretty much what I meant, whereas its a bit different with Quake, Halo, and CS:1.6. But maybe I totally don't go to the more relevant sites.

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Re: Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby General_Norris » Mon May 31, 2010 9:18 pm UTC

infernovia wrote:Ok, its just that TF2 seems very good as a pub game, but not as a competitive game. Pretty much what I meant, whereas its a bit different with Quake, Halo, and CS:1.6. But maybe I totally don't go to the more relevant sites.

More leagues run TF2 than Quake by far, you are just misinformed. In fact it's always one of the top games played. It's the other game other than CS that sees play in ESEA, Gotfrag runs it, you have ETF2L which is pretty big and other bug events.

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Re: Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby Magnanimous » Mon May 31, 2010 11:27 pm UTC

Jesse wrote:You can and you can't compare games to books. You can compare them in terms of storytelling, in which case games have the advantage (in terms of keeping attention) of being interactive, which creates a greater sense of immersion, but to compare them as stories is fairly pointless as a book's only entertainment facet is the story it contains, while a game also has to balance things like gameplay, and graphics.

Fundamentally, books have plot, characterization, and storytelling; video games have plot, characterization, storytelling, gameplay, and aesthetics1. If you ignore the last two and just look at what happens in the game, then you can easily compare them. And you're making it sound like video game developers only get a set number of points to distribute among story and gameplay. Yes, dedicating all of your time to perfecting something's gameplay doesn't leave as much time for developing the plot, but you really don't have to sacrifice one for the other.

Infernovia wrote:Bioshock is mediocre, could be considered good among video games, but its not really stellar plot-telling. We are talking about a format where Half-life's story blew people's minds, so we aren't talking about the same scope as literature.

Ico and Shadow of Colossus were both very simple stories (boy and girl). I liked the presentation as they were very well tied together, but they overwhelmingly were in the simple side for practically everything otherwise (especially the mechanics). The plot was simple in both of these too.

Metal Gear Solid is amusing. Clever and funny and technical, but it was obviously made to not make sense or analyzed.

Don't look back is a bad game. Lets not bring up these simple old wive's morals please. Its a bit better than ImmorTALL or w/e, but even pong could beat that.

I am glad you pulled up Baldur's Gate. Otherwise I would have needed to call bull for ignoring all the western developer's efforts which pretty much demolishes most other works in this format. Planescape: Torment? Regardless, even in this scenario it is not close. Deus Ex is interesting, its good, but in terms of plotlines, it might as well be as silly as the matrix, if not sillier. I actually really liked the story in both Torment and Deus Ex, but Deus Ex I liked because of the level of interaction it gave me along with the well made cyperpunk background. Torment just had really mapped out choices, which was enjoyable.

Call of Duty 4 can beat most of the indie games you listed. And that game isn't exactly the king of complex overarching plot.

Have you ever interacted with any of these games, or are you just assuming they're bad because it would support your argument?

Stories aren't always great just because of their literal plots: they're praised for their underlying themes and use of metaphor. If you're not going to accept that video games' stories can be analyzed in the same way that books' can, then I'm going to say that Crime and Punishment is only about a man killing someone then feeling bad about it, Lord of the Flies is just a bunch of kids trapped on an island, and Atlas Shrugged is about some industrialists not liking the government.

Bioshock discusses morality, universal flaws in logic and character, philosophy, the influence of religion, utilitarianism, free-market economics, etc. Ico is about human empathy and the impulse to nurture, while Shadow of the Colossus is taken as a metaphor for life. The Metal Gear series explores the nature of politics, warfare, environmentalism, censorship, genetic engineering, artificial intelligence, loyalty, reality, and subjective vs. universal truths. Don't Look Back is an extension of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth, and Beyond Good and Evil warns against government censorship, terrorism, deception, and propaganda. These aren't just plots thrown halfheartedly into games, which seems to be how you make out video game stories.

Games that are more literal, especially horror games, can make up for it with brilliant storytelling. Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth is just about supernatural beings from the Cthulhu Mythos taking over Innsmouth, but its levels make it just as frightening as any Lovecraft story. Silent Hill and Fatal Frame are the same way. If you're going to discredit the best of the horror games, then I'd be surprised if you're a fan of horror movies and novels.

1All games aren't going to have all five of these. Pac-man only has the last two, and TF2 doesn't have real storytelling or plot outside of the RED vs BLU background.

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Re: Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby Jesse » Tue Jun 01, 2010 12:01 am UTC

My point was actually AT infernovia, rather than agreeing with him, of why in some instances you can compare videogames to books, and why in other instances you can't. I feel that a comparison between, say, Half Life 2 and East of Eden in terms of "This story is better!" because they have different goals. East of Eden has only the story to entertain you with, whereas Half-Life 2 has other factors beyond that to consider. I'm really not explaining this very well at all, I'll try again when it's not 1am o'clock.

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Re: Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby kinigget » Tue Jun 01, 2010 12:51 am UTC

I feel I should mention one more thing: Exploration. Part of the reason I enjoyed Bioshock so much had nothing to do with either story or gameplay in any but the loosest sense, I absolutely loved wandering around rapture, seeing the debris of fierce battles that were fought during it's civil war, seeing the many small ways the inhabitants tried to force a semblance of normality on a near apocalyptic situation. I enjoyed the Thief series for much the same reason, there was always something to find not even including loot items.

Video games are the only form of entertainment that allow you to explore the setting beyond purely plot-relevant locations, and that's enough for me.
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Re: Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby dedalus » Tue Jun 01, 2010 1:30 am UTC

Throwing my 2 cents in the ring (and directed at infernovia), Magnanimous brings up an important book he mentioned previously. Lord of the Flies.

I hate that book. It's not because it's a bad book; probably if I took the time to read over it again I'd come to understand it and like it. But I hate that book, because I had to study it when i was a 15 year old kid in high school, and I read it for its face value. And a bunch of children on an island degenerating into killing each other over semi-cultlike behaviour that I ascribed as unrealistic and overly pointless just wasn't something I liked. I started off with bad assumptions, and as such I refused to read into that book any more merit then I absolutely had to. Does this make me a bad person? Probably. Should my criticism of the book be taken into account, given that I refused to give it any merit in the first place? Absolutely.

And thats what you're doing to video games. You insist that games are bad storytellers, taking links from people at face value, refusing to assume they have merit to begin with, and thus you're never going to find it. Silent Hill 2 is a brilliantly told horror story; easily as good as a good novel. The techniques it uses to convey emotion are completely different from Shelley's Frankenstein or a Stephen King film, however. It immerses the player by giving them choices and actions, and hence part of the invoked fear in the story comes from this immersion. However, it lacks advantages of the ability to use literary and film techniques that books and movies can. Now, if I wanted to sum the plot up in a few sentences, then I could;
Spoiler:
the protagonist gets letters from his dead wife, then goes to a village where supernatural forces prey upon his fears and doubts.
The plot points are brilliant, the characterisation is well done, and the suspense is held throughout the game. Just because it never uses assonance or alliteration to explain itself fully doesn't mean that it can't convey the story, but if you're never going to allow yourself to be immersed *in* the story, you're never going to understand it completely.

Other examples do exist, and people have pointed out a few. I'll admit quite happily that many modern games have sacrificed their storytelling capabilities to appeal to a mass-market that wants things kept simple. The same could be said for many modern books and movies. Also, there's some game producers that haven't yet gotten around the idea of understanding how to tell a story through a game; a big complaint about MGS is the overuse of cutscenes which turns a lot of it into a movie (disclaimer, I haven't actually played MGS, I've just heard this complaint). And also, there's a lack of market for people who *want* good storytelling and compelling plots within a game, so good games are often quite rare. And additionally, due to stories being around for many thousands of years, some novels can't be beaten by games that have only had 20-30 years of being explored as a medium. But saying that 'the best few stories ever written by man are better then the best few video game plots that have ever been programmed by man' isn't saying much. Comparing video games as a whole to stories as a whole is a much more worthwhile thing to do, and overall there are some video games with plots that hold their weight. If you're only going to rant that the industry hasn't created something to compare with Crime and Punishment, then you're wasting my time, and everyone elses time, and you're hardly making a worthwhile point, and I don't see the point arguing with you any further.
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Re: Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby Gelsamel » Tue Jun 01, 2010 7:45 am UTC

infernovia wrote:To Gelsamel, sorry for misinterpreting your intentions. In anycase, thats the problem I have with the storylines, its way too hamfisted. And judging from previous iterations in the series, it doesn't get good (and if it does, its way after I got bored). I did enjoy the 2D Tales games though, but I am glad I finally started playing the Western ones. I love the great style of the Japanese, but ignoring the Western ones was a big mistake on my part and my tastes have really changed after playing the greats from that side.


I've played most of the Tales of series and Symphonia probably had the worst storyline (although I love Cam Clarke's voice acting and I liked Kratos and Sheena as characters). Vesperia easily comes out on top for best story out of the Tales games imho.
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Re: Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby infernovia » Sat Jun 12, 2010 5:49 am UTC

I gotta apologize to that one guy who posted here (the novel -> videogame guy, I believe with the Catch-22 avatar?) that I argued with before. Though mediocre novel writers might as well stay there, I don't want people who can't make it in the writing industry in the videogames, no need for leftovers.

As for others, thank you for taking away my desire to argue stupid stuff. I really appreciate it, opened up a lot of time for other things. There comes a certain point where arguing against someone who considers a guy sacrificing his life to the devil for a girl and being reborn at the end compares to the best writing in history is just a waste of time.

So again, apologies and thanks.

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Re: Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby psion » Sat Jun 12, 2010 7:29 pm UTC


I agree with all your examples except that. Metal Gear doesn't explore those subjects so much as it just makes shit up on the backs of those subjects.

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Re: Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby headprogrammingczar » Sun Jun 13, 2010 1:05 pm UTC

It might be relevant to mention that you might be conflating game story and book/movie story, when the differences in the mediums make the two only tenuously comparable. In any book/movie/game, you aren't so much taking in a story as engaging in a dialog with the author/designer. The only way a book has to communicate with you is through a deep, thoughtful story, as there isn't much else you can do with pages and text. This might be why so many "action books" suck. In movies, you can see what is happening on screen, so the director can communicate with the audience with actions just as effectively as with words, and can also employ visual tricks. A good example of this is The Illusionist, which has a few ingenious magic tricks play out onscreen for the audience's enjoyment. The impact of the tricks would have been significantly reduced if the director had to describe the trick with dialog and long paragraphs, and the audience would not fully appreciate the skill involved in creating them. As much of the movie hinges on the crown prince being unable to discern how the tricks were done, the narrative would have been catastrophically damaged without the movie format.
Video games are a completely different dialog altogether. The designer creates a world and drops the player into it to experience. The player communicates through action, and the designer communicates by rubbing the world against the player. In Shadow of the Colossus, the designer speaks through the massive empty world, equally massive colossi, the capable but clumsy physics of the player, and a loyal horse that almost has a mind of its own. All of these elements push against the player in some way, and the player pushes back, until he has destroyed a huge, magnificent creature, something the player isn't even sure he had the right to kill. Then he must do it 15 more times. Without the dialog between designer and player, you end up with an empty game, which plays nearly the same, but feels like nothing.
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Re: Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby General_Norris » Sun Jun 13, 2010 2:41 pm UTC

^An example. Imagine a classic cartoon with words. Uugh.

One of the reasons people don't like Don Quixote very much nowadays is that you need to read really fast for it to be funny.

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Re: Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby t-note » Thu Jun 17, 2010 6:49 pm UTC

SecondTalon wrote:
Have you even seen the last 20 videogame movies?
Sure. And of those 20, I'd say 19 of them failed to capture the spirit of the game they're representing. Again, you're looking at the issue of the protagonist on the silver screen not doing the shit you, the gamer, did. Also, if you're talking about Uwe Boll movies in a serious attempt to refute .. anything beyond someone insisting that shitty movies are no longer being made.... then we're done here. There's no reason to continue speaking to you, as you're clearly insane.


Are we not all insane to a degree?

I can definitely get behind the comparison to books being the same as comparing written to painting. It just doesn't work. The only comparison (and this is a stretch) that books could possibly make would be through the choose your own adventure books. Of which I'm sure the book snobs on here have either never read, or if they have, most likely scoffed at them as being far inferior to their favourite pieces of literature.

as for gaming constantly evolving, the only video game evolving I've seen done recently relate to keeping up with graphic technology and the ability new tvs have for definition and clarity. beyond that it's just using proprietary movement programs which is claimed to be revolutionary. they start with a base movement program, then they make it their own and call it revolutionary.

My recent example: "forces unleashed" - lucas arts. I expected this to have at least some semblance of an ok story, after playing knights of the old republic and so on. I purchased it new with expectations***, because of the reviews it had received and because of my previous experience with other star wars games.
*** To give you an idea of my expectations, the last new game I bought previous to forces unleashed was 5 years prior to that.

Then I played it. Sure the graphics were pretty, and I could move my character fairly well. This meant nothing to me when I discovered to my shock and horror (it was genuine shock and horror, too) the game play lasted all of 8 hours even after wandering around quite a bit to get all the extras (I am by no means an expert player, either- my husband finished the game in 6 hours) and consisted of an EXTREMELY crappy story (in fact almost NO story at all). To further the horror I had, the powers did not increase to the level the reviews had set my expectations for. (This led me to believe lucas arts knew the game would disappoint and had paid for the reviews.) needless to say, this was a waste of time and money to me. So, I guess I can say some video games are a waste of time. I will concede one point for the book readers.

If I want game story, I turn to older games, which is what I play anyway. Examples: Vandal Hearts I and II, legend of dragoon, castlevania, jade empire, FF#1-#9 (no tactics), star ocean, zelda, chrono cross, chrono trigger, and Tales of Symphonia ...

In a broader span of things, I could technically say video games are a waste of time. They are a waste of time just like any other puzzle game, or chess, or even (gasp) a book. I like to think it's not so much an argument for or against the wasting of time, as it is a discussion on whether it's an agreeable waste of time.

The question you really should be asking is "Do video games entertain you? Why or why not? "

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Re: Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby Gelsamel » Fri Jun 18, 2010 3:40 am UTC

I don't really agree with you with your game list but you should try Tales of Vesperia (which I think has the best story of any of the tales of- games).
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Re: Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby Tomo » Fri Jun 18, 2010 11:36 am UTC

Gelsamel wrote:I don't really agree with you with your game list but you should try Tales of Vesperia (which I think has the best story of any of the tales of- games).


I'd really advise against this, it's pretty much the most cliche-ridden pile of drivel I've played in a JRPG. It's a bit like reading poetry on a 14 year olds myspace - my reaction to buying it new was similar to what you've described re. the force unleashed. But then, YMMV I suppose.

That's not to say there aren't recent games you might enjoy, I've played and loved almost every game you mentioned in your post and I've really enjoyed a large span of recent videogames because of their stories.

As for the question at hand, it's really quite difficult to dispute that videogames are exactly as much of a waste of time as movies/books/any other form of art - personally, I don't think anything enjoyable is a waste of time but at that point you're really arguing about the definition of "waste of time", and wether something has to create a tangible reward to be worthwhile.
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Re: Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby Gelsamel » Fri Jun 18, 2010 1:54 pm UTC

Tomo wrote:
Gelsamel wrote:I don't really agree with you with your game list but you should try Tales of Vesperia (which I think has the best story of any of the tales of- games).


I'd really advise against this, it's pretty much the most cliche-ridden pile of drivel I've played in a JRPG. It's a bit like reading poetry on a 14 year olds myspace - my reaction to buying it new was similar to what you've described re. the force unleashed. But then, YMMV I suppose.


Cliche how? It subverts the vast majority of them... You can't YMMV whether it has cliches or not.

Edit: Especially considering that subversion and deconstruction of cliches is the Tales of series shtick...
"Give up here?"
- > No
"Do you accept defeat?"
- > No
"Do you think games are silly little things?"
- > No
"Is it all pointless?"
- > No
"Do you admit there is no meaning to this world?"
- > No

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Re: Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby Tomo » Fri Jun 18, 2010 2:55 pm UTC

Gelsamel wrote:Cliche how? It subverts the vast majority of them... You can't YMMV whether it has cliches or not.

Edit: Especially considering that subversion and deconstruction of cliches is the Tales of series shtick...


What? It's a game about a teenage boy who has trouble expressing his emotions, who teams up with a gentle girl with healing powers, who is the last in a line of ancients, a pet dog, an annoying as hell kid, an older guy who everyone calls "old-man" (seriously Japan, fuck this trope), a female ninja type who is in it for the money but warms to them, and an arrogant mage, who have to save the world from an unknown evil that last attacked x-years ago in a "great war". And of course they're fighting against the teenage main characters childhood friend in places. And a white haired Bishie with a sword.

It's basically a mishmash of all the FF main male characters + Aeris, Red, Cait Sith, Barrat and Quistis on a road trip, except at every single town they decide to split up and say good bye before some random plot "twist" forces them to travel in the same direction again.

That's just the characters, what else? The game play isn't new, every step of the story is predictable, every turn can be seen an hour before it happens, everything from the timing you get the boat, then the airship is ripped straight from the genre as a whole. Seven secret weapons? Optional boss monsters? The "witty" joke about whether or not the same NPC in every town is actually the same person? - What IS original?

And don't hit back with that "oh, it was doing it ironically" hipster nonsense, the game was terrible, derivative and boring. And, to nicely tie this back into the topic at hand, a complete fucking waste of time.
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