Friday, April 6, 2012

stupid games

Tetris was invented exactly when and where you would expect — in a Soviet computer lab in 1984 — and its game play reflects this origin. The enemy in Tetris is not some identifiable villain (Donkey Kong, Mike Tyson, Carmen Sandiego) but a faceless, ceaseless, reasonless force that threatens constantly to overwhelm you, a churning production of blocks against which your only defense is a repetitive, meaningless sorting. It is bureaucracy in pure form, busywork with no aim or end, impossible to avoid or escape. And the game’s final insult is that it annihilates free will. Despite its obvious futility, somehow we can’t make ourselves stop rotating blocks. Tetris, like all the stupid games it spawned, forces us to choose to punish ourselves. 

Sam Anderson, NY Times magazine

[This is a terrific article.   The NYT has just dropped the number of free articles per month from 20 to 10; have hitherto gone off in a huff when my quota of free articles was used up, but if they are paying the likes of Mr Anderson they should maybe be getting my nickel.]

The piece is full of quotable quotes, here's one more--

“Having just built this, I’m seeing how much I hate the Internet,” Gage told me. “I mean, I really like the Internet and what it’s done for games — it’s been amazing. But in so many ways it’s just terrible. Arcade cabinets did a lot of things that were really smart that we never gave them credit for. There’s a lot of social psychology embedded in that structure.” The Xbox, he explained, offered only a few games designed to be played along with other people in the same room. “No one is designing games like that anymore,” he said. “It’s very terrible.” 


ChrisSchaef said...

Try changing your cookie settings on your web browser. You might be able to up your monthly dose of free articles ;)

Ryan O'Donnell said...

I find the easiest is to just go to the URL bar and delete all characters after and including the first ampersand.

leoboiko said...

> “No one is designing games like that anymore,” he said.

Cecilieaux Bois de Murier said...

The NY Times is worth every penny.