Soma Games was in Las Vegas this last week to attend CES whereIntel announced the beta launch of their new app store aimed at netbooks. (Check it out here) For Soma Games, this was a singular opportunity but I’m seeing a lot of ink out there this week by folks who don’t get it. The refrain…
No matter how much you may want video games to be plainly fun and devoid of any ethical or moral message (If I had a dollar for every person who said that to me…) it will never happen. The statement is nonsensical on the order of whether or not God can make a rock bigger…
When my son was born a little over three years ago my good friend Mark brought over a selection of books he thought to be essential “must read” tomes for any little boy. Where The Wild Things Are was in there and I’ve read those 200 or so words to Odin probably a thousand times. We love that book and we love the pictures and my toddler sees no psychological complexity to a boy in a wolf suit. Why then did Spike Jonze feel it necessary to turn it into something all Jungian and dark and disturbing.
Look, every once in a great while I can appreciate a movie like this…once in a great while. My real problem is the way a piece of joy and sweetness and innocence from my life has been hijacked to sell some kind of overburdened hyper-symbolic look into the pathos of a troubled tween.
There is no way that any video game or series of video games can possibly tell the stories we want to tell at Soma Games.
Neither could a graphic novel,
…or a book,
…or a movie.
If ‘the medium is the message’ then we will only have told our stories properly when they are told across multiple media, each used in its proper place to express the proper part of a manifold expression of creativity that ought to transcend any single medium.
If you’ve ever received the dismissive glare of your mother-in-law as you talk about the mad exploits of Master Chief or Marcus Fenix the you know that there is a major awareness gap in America that lies somewhere between 40 and 50 years of age. On one side of that line are folks for whom video games are a common and integrated part of their lives. On the other side are folks who saw a 2600 a while back and ‘were not impressed.’ For the most part, the people in charge of the mainstream media and the capital allocation structures are all on the ‘not impressed’ side of the equation.
Those people are wrong.
“Too Human” is an excellent game from the story perspective and we’re all about the story, but level design needs to be better to prevent the player from getting bored before the story gets told…
Dark Glass will lean toward the darker and morally ambiguous aspects of life as it examines grittier subjects than Soma’s previous games. Will our audience accept this state or will we be criticized for ‘loving the darkness’ too much?
I ran into an interesting post the other day that asks whether or not the Nazi’s are forgivable.
The post is up and over too quickly to really chew on the question but it raises some thoughts to mind about how a story portrays good and evil. It sure seems to me that growing up and going to school was a long walk with anti-heros and deeply flawed protagonists in more or less every medium I encountered. Whether it was Frank Miller’s deeply broken Dark Knight, Lestat or Angelus – it just seems in my memory like everybody has been actively deconstructing the lines between good and evil for a long time.
A book about Christians being active and influential in various social ‘mountains’ really whets Somas whistle. We’ve always seen ourselves as change agents in an industry that lacks any Christian voice…looks like we’re not alone in that mission.
There is a natural and obvious place where book publishing and video games should overlap. But for this connection to thrive, publishers will need to break out of some old patterns to see what gaming really brings to the table instead of seeing this bigger-than-hollywood business as just a marketing add-on to books and magazines.