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Default The Citizen Kane of Video Games @ Games Radar

July 26th, 2009, 00:27
I don't know how many people are going to agree with the premise, let alone the choices, but lists are always worth a good argument. Games Radar has assembled a list of 25 gaming equivalents to Citizen Kane from the movie world. Two single-player RPG get a spot - Ultima III and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. The latter gets nominated for (wait for it…): pioneering "semi-open-ended Western RPGs disguised as fully 3D quasi-action games". Here's the intro:
When talking about the idea of videogames as art, it’s become increasingly popular to lament that the medium doesn’t yet have its “Citizen Kane.” Seemingly everyone, from industry luminary Ian Bogost to film director Guillermo del Toro, has sounded off about how games either need, don’t need, or will soon receive the masterpiece that will force the medium to “grow up” and be accepted as an art form by the mainstream. But while these deep thinkers pontificate on the need for a medium-defining masterpiece, we’d argue that the game industry has already produced one. In fact, it’s produced a whole bunch.
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July 26th, 2009, 00:27
What this list does actually demontrate is how utterly awful the plot is in 99% of video games when compared against films. Sure these games might have been milestones in their own way, but they do suggest that video games are largely aimed at a market dominated by juveniles.
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July 26th, 2009, 00:44
I can't even form the words to describe how lame this is…

It's almost a carbon copy of the same article I've already seen at least 4-5 times. When are they going to stop doing these?
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July 26th, 2009, 02:05
I don't know, I think it's a concept worth investigating, although the list format isn't the way to go. Movies DID used to be aimed at juveniles or at least idiots, and of course many of them still are. But somewhere along the way it became generally recognized that this flashy form of entertainment could also represent a legitimate art-form.

So why not video games? The reason the list format was estupido is because the author immediately forgot his premise, and then went on to describe how these various games influenced the development of… video games. That's missing the point of one's own article. You could write a legitimate list of 25 influential pornos, showing how each left its mark on all the porn that came after it, but that certainly isn't going to convince anyone that pr0n r ARTZ!

Anyway, don't waste your time because I've figured it all out. This whole thing is the fault of the Japanese. In the West, video games are still considered kid stuff. I'm 35 years old, and when I go on a date and some hottie asks me what I do for fun, I promise you I never say Fallout 3! Ever. Because the perception here is that games are immature. As a result (or it's the other way around, this is all very chicken and egg), video games here that target adults don't sell as well as those that target a more juvenile sensibility. Nowadays more than ever, moving units is the goal, and designing a game that's ACTUALLY aimed at mature audiences (as opposed to one that includes tits and gore) is just a bad plan in a business where 90% of the devs are two missteps from insolvency already.

So the Japanese. THEY'RE the ones who are allowed to play video games as adults without being scrubbed off by their little hotties. THEY should be the ones pioneering evolved and mature video games and getting us closer to legitimizing the media as an artistic one. BUT! They're characters are all infantile and ridiculous. AND! None of their plots make any sense. I don't know why. And people here in the West have trouble relating to stuff that makes abso-fucking-lutely no sense.

In closing, I blame Japan.
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July 26th, 2009, 02:27
There's a catchier tune if you blame Canada, Yeesh.

The thing about Citizen Kane is that it's still fun to watch even today. The difference between a very good movie and a classic is that a classic is still great even 50+ years later. That's difficult to do with video games where, even after 30 years or so, big new innovations are still popping out every year.

I think the idea that video games are just for kids is finally dying, though. Too many of those kids have grown up now and still want to play games. The Wii's invasion of retirement homes actually helps, too. Just try calling grandma immature to her face - she'll show you her Wii-boxing moves!
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July 26th, 2009, 03:54
Originally Posted by JDR13 View Post
I can't even form the words to describe how lame this is…

It's almost a carbon copy of the same article I've already seen at least 4-5 times. When are they going to stop doing these?
I don't know … these things really hurt whatever 'games as serious art' stuff gets put out …

— Mike
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July 26th, 2009, 09:12
This is list is wrong, because Thief isn't in it.
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July 26th, 2009, 14:28
Despite the somewhat transient nature of videogames as mentioned earlier, one could still make a sound case for something like System Shock 2, even Just in terms of story and atmosphere. (KOTOR, while a fun game, not so much IMHO)
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July 26th, 2009, 15:32
I think the 'transient nature of videogames' is key … movies from the 30's are extremely watchable today … but something like the original Wizardry or Castle Wolfenstein are not playable at any real level other than for nostalgia.

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July 26th, 2009, 23:02
I still love to play some older games so I think it depends on the game wheather or not it is transient. If the game has very good gameplay and very well done story it can stand the test of time.

PS. This may not apply to everyone which include people that can't play anything without modern graphics.
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July 27th, 2009, 05:00
Originally Posted by guenthar View Post
If the game has very good gameplay and very well done story it can stand the test of time.
3D games in particular don't age very well. 2D games have an advantage in that regard. I still like to play those old SNES J-RPGs and adventures, even today. Pure gameplay with adorable graphics. But when I'm trying something else from that time … no thanks. Nostalgia can only get you so far.

"Mystery is important. To know everything, to know the whole truth, is dull. There is no magic in that. Magic is not knowing, magic is wondering about what and how and where." ~ Cortez, from The Longest Journey
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July 27th, 2009, 06:10
I don't think there's any particularly transient in the nature of video games relative to movies. While movies from the 30s and 40s might be 'watchable' to some, they're certainly not the sort of movies people want to watch now. Video games are the same. Ultima III is 'playable', whether for fun or nostalgia's sake, but it's certainly not the kind of game that's racking up sales nowadays. I go back to JA2 (10 years old) or even MoM (15 years!) because there's nothing quite like them today, and I can imagine film enthusiasts feeling the same way about certain pet movies from long ago, but that doesn't mean the general public (as opposed to aficionados) considers my favorite old games or any classic old movies to be "timeless" in any real sense, as in "re-release it today and you'd make any money." I don't see a difference between games and movies on that level.

I think the idea that video games are just for kids is finally dying, though. Too many of those kids have grown up now and still want to play games. The Wii's invasion of retirement homes actually helps, too. Just try calling grandma immature to her face - she'll show you her Wii-boxing moves!
You know, I was thinking a bit about that casual gaming explosion (or at least evolution) when I first wrote, but I don't think casual games really speak to video games as art. While there certainly has been some change in the attitude that video games are for kids (and weirdos), the fact that the change has come at the hands of casual games has actually done more to push games away from being taken seriously as a medium for art. I think the kind of games we appreciate best, the ones where you lock yourself in your room for 12 hours before passing out at 4am, are still considered (in the west!) to be nerdy and strictly for losers. The kind of games that are socially acceptable for non-gamers to play at parties are a far, far cry from the kinds of games we'd hold up as examples of games that have artistic merit in addition to their entertainment value.
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July 28th, 2009, 18:14
a couple of people have touched on it and I think the reason there is no "Citizen Kane" is the obvious fact that technologies with games changes at such a rapid pace.

With RPG's alone in the past we have held up as THE standard Wizardry, Ultima III, Wasteland, IV, VII, Pool of Radiance, Wizardry 7, Ultima Underworld, System Shock, Diablo I and II, Final Fantasy VII, Fallout, Baldur's Gate Planescape: Torment, and KotOR.

With Video Games in general its been Pong, Space Invaders, Pac Man, Donkey Kong, Defender, Ms Pac Man, Super Mario Bros, Wing Commander, Myst, Doom, Quake, Unreal, Starcraft, the Sims and Half Life: Counterstrike as the greatest games of all time.

There's a pattern there. These games fit in a narrow window of the life of a gamer, usually as a kid, at time when they are very impressionable and then the technology and ideas passes them by making them seem primitive.

Movies haven't had as many noticeable technological advances to audiences. We've gone from the stage to film, to sound, to color. Animation and movies dependent on special effects are far more noticeable to us today though a select few get the stamp of being "timeless" such as Snow White, 2001 and Star Wars; but even the last got an unwanted face life.

It simple terms, its far easier to be a timeless classic in the movies.

One of the few games that could transcend being called just a game and being art, Myst, is not even known among some newer gamers and is starting to look real dated itself.

Developer of The Wizard's Grave Android game. Discussion Thread:
http://www.rpgwatch.com/forums/showthread.php?t=22520
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